Megan Gann, SHRM-CP
HR manager and solo HR
Camp Gladiator, a fitness startup
Susan Smith, SHRM-SCP
Director of HR at the
People’s Community Clinic, a
nonprofit health facility
Why did you seek a mentor?
Gann: I was new to the HR manager role. Susan is in health care
and I’m in fitness, so it was a good
What career benefits have you
seen as a mentor?
Smith: Talking to an HR professional outside of your company
gives you a wider perspective.
Megan’s energy and enthusiasm
are contagious. I gave her some
advice on documenting a performance issue, and she showed me
a cool presentation tool she found
for an employee handbook.
Who guides the conversation?
Gann: We meet in person at a
Starbucks once a month, and I
bring the agenda. It’s nothing formal, just things I’m dealing with or
working on. She shares best practices and the lessons she’s learned.
She helps me navigate all the gray
areas within HR.
What advice do you have for
Smith: Be a reflective listener. And
you must be trustworthy because
your mentee may be sharing sensitive information. You need to take
the role seriously and honor your
commitment to meet regularly. As
HR professionals, we have the
responsibility to give back.
How do you make time to meet?
Gann: As with any relationship, if
you want it to work, you make the
time. Most of us can find an hour
or so once a month to devote to
this. I try to respect her time, too,
by saving my questions until we
meet. It’s important for every HR
professional to have someone like
this in their lives. Susan Smith, SHRM-SCP, and
Megan Gann, SHRM-CP
Austin, Texas-based organizational
consultancy. Experts say a few actions
facilitate a productive pairing:
Dedicate the time. Both parties
need to commit. “One common mistake [among mentors and mentees] is
not connecting as quickly or as often as
they should. We recommend pairs meet
at least once a month,” Templeton says.
Be available in between as well.
“Respond in a timely manner to all
communications from your mentee or
mentor. If one person doesn’t make the
relationship a priority, it won’t work,”
Establish your objectives. “Mentees
should come into the relationship with
clear goals and understand the areas
where they’d like a mentor’s feedback,”
recommends Natalie Morgan, HR and
communications manager for Career-
Plug, an applicant tracking software
company in Austin, Texas.
Moreover, those goals should be
realistic and achievable. “As a mentee,
don’t expect your mentor to be a search
frm for your next job,” Kochanski says.
“Mentors can help you be more suc-
cessful in your current job and plan for
the future, but you have to make your
Give sound advice, and give it selec-
tively. “Don’t use this as a chance to
tell old war stories,” Kochanski advises
mentors. “Ask lots of questions and
help the mentee to develop options,
but [let the mentees] make their own
And don’t toss out glib advice. “You
can’t give of-the-cuf opinions. You need
to give substantiated proof—examples
and experiences—as to why the advice
you’re giving works,” Oliverio says.
Regardless of which side of the desk
you sit on, mentoring can advance
your career. In a comprehensive study
that followed 1,000 employees of Sun
Microsystems Inc. over fve years, 25
percent of mentees in the company’s
mentoring program, and 28 percent
of mentors, received raises, compared
with 5 percent of those who did not