Do you know how to find a mentor for your team member outside of your organization? And how can you be objective when asking for a higher salary?
Welcome to the 6th edition of “Ask Lighthouse”, our weekly format that answers your questions about leadership. Each week, Jason Evanish, the CEO and founder of Lighthouse, and other leaders will share their advice for overcoming your biggest challenges based on their experience and lessons learned helping others.
The goal is to provide you with the nuance and detail that you can’t find in our long-form posts that try to be more generally applicable.
We’ll also be using your questions to bring you more relevant content in the future and keep improving our Lighthouse software.
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This Week’s Ask Lighthouse: How to Find a Mentor for Your Team Member, How Big Should Your Raise Be
Today’s questions are focused on the following topics:
- Finding a mentor for your team member when there’s no one at your company who can support them
- How to ask for a bigger salary without being unrealistic
Let’s dive right into the answers to these questions:
How to support the growth of your team with an awesome mentor
Question #1: I want to find a mentor for one of my team members but there’s no one who can give them the support they need at our company. What can I do?
Having a mentor can drastically accelerate your team member’s career. As Forbes shared on a study by Sun Microsystems tracking the career progress of approximately 1,000 employees over 5-years they found:
- Employees who received mentoring were promoted FIVE times more often
- Mentors were SIX times more likely to have been promoted to a bigger job.
This makes it a great win-win for both mentors and mentees.
Unfortunately, great mentors are hard to find. Not only do they have to be a good match for the mentee in terms of their skillset and personality, but they also need to have enough bandwidth to support them properly.
This is the case because the role of a mentor encompasses several very important areas, including:
- Helping you understand the skills you need to succeed and learn how to build them.
- Providing an outlet and external perspective to what’s happening inside your company.
- Being a trusted confidant you don’t have to worry about politics with.
- Helping you solve specific problems you’re dealing with.
- Sharing examples from their own career and those of their friends that are relevant to your situation.
Of course, having all of this in one person is rare. Even if you work at a big company, there’s a chance you won’t find a good enough fit.
Knowing where to look
For those who aren’t lucky enough to have the perfect mentor within their own company, we can recommend a few other places to look:
- Industry Groups: No matter your programming language, marketing role, or background, there’s typically an association related to your work you can join to find a good mentor. Check out some of their events or conferences, or reach out to them directly to ask for recommendations.
- Slack Communities, Facebook groups or Reddit: There are many online communities worth checking out for potential mentors. Slack Communities, Facebook (closed groups), and Reddit all offer a place to connect with like-minded people from your industry, discuss topics of interests, and get feedback about your ideas. To find someone suitable to be a mentor, start a post or a thread or find active members and message them directly.
- Linkedin: Another good idea is to go through some of the people in your network on Linkedin. You may have someone you’ve lost touch with who can help. Alternatively, one of Linkedin’s strengths is showing you people a friend may know and can introduce you to. Just try searching your network based on a job title or skill you’re looking for.
- Twitter: This is the most underrated place for finding professional advice and connections. You can get a ton of help and support simply by engaging people directly (replying to their tweets, or DM’ing people with a question). From our experience, interactions on Twitter often can often lead to a call, productive discussions, and more.
- Clarity: Clarity is a community of experts you can connect to on a call and ask about anything. Unlike the other options on this list, it’s a paid source, so you’ll need a learning budget or you’ll be paying out of pocket. Each expert displays their per-minute rate, and their skills so you can pick the right person for you.
- Luke-warm Emails: A lot of people that blog will have their email address visible on their about page. You’d be surprised by how few people actually take the time to email them! If you think they could be a good mentor, try referencing a post you liked, ask a good question and start your relationship with them. If that fails and they’re too busy, your plan B could be to ask them to introduce them to someone they know who can help.
If you keep browsing these sources and interacting with colleagues, connections, and active community members, it’s only a matter of time before you or your team member find the right mentor for them.
Once you do, you can follow this pattern to get things started:
- Set up a first call or coffee meeting.
- See how the first meeting goes, what your team member has learned, and action items that come from it.
- Watch how both sides follow up on their promises.
- Follow up for another call/meeting if there’s a reason to keep talking.
- If the 2nd meeting goes well, discuss formalizing the relationship.
From there, your team member can be on their way to a great mentoring relationship, and your team gets better for it.
How much is enough? How to ask for a salary increase that’s realistic
Question #2: I want to ask for a raise, but don’t know how much more money I should ask for. Can you give me some pointers?
It’s always a good idea to prepare for asking for a raise by doing thorough research and listening to the experiences of others. We have three recommendations to help you ensure you’re doing more than just improvising when you decide to ask for a raise.
1. Ask friends in similar roles.
The first and most obvious place to find out salary bands is to ask your friends in similar roles. Be sure to ask about bonus structure, equity, and any other perks as well so you can compare apples to apples.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to get a salary increase, but you can get compensated in other ways, including:
- Additional vacation days
- Tweaks to your health or other benefits
- Education opportunities or reimbursements
Think about what option B might be for you so you know what to ask for when discussing a raise.
2. Google salary bands and salary info for your role and location.
There are plenty of sources on the internet that can give you the salary bands for your role at other companies.
Many of these sites will list perks other companies offer as well, so make sure to check them thoroughly before having the conversation with your manager.
While you may not be able to reveal your sources about a friend’s compensation, this publicly available data is the perfect kind of information to provide your manager as you negotiate for your raise.
3. Take some interviews to learn what compensation is for you right now
If you’re pretty happy where you are, and you simply want a bit more compensation, this move can be particularly powerful.
You see, when you interview, and you’re happy where you are, you have a lot of leverage. It can make it easier to be bold and ask what the compensation is up front, possibly even in the very first screening call.
Sometimes, companies won’t want to talk to you about salaries that early, but you can still get the info you’re looking for if you ask in the right way.
Let them know you’re interested in finding out their salary band to see if it’s worth continuing the interview. Remember – you don’t have to reveal your own salary while doing so, but if they’re really interested in you, and they value their interview time, they’ll reveal some information.
Importantly, they can’t often ask you the same question. In some states in the US, it’s literally illegal for companies to ask about your current/previous salary, so make sure you remind them of that and protect yourself. (Note: this isn’t legal advice; do your own research for your country or state).
Be persistent, especially since you have nothing to lose if they refuse to answer. If it turns out they are unwilling to share that information with you, you can always try somewhere else.
By combining these three recommendations, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you can expect and how much leeway you have for negotiating.
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