Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Mentor-mentee relationships are important in the FM industry and can be a two-way street.
by Kathleen Hagan
In business — including within the facilities management (FM) industry — it’s often not just about what you know, but also who you know. It’s not enough to simply put your head down and do the work. You need to collaborate and surround yourself with people you can learn from.
That’s why mentorship can play a pivotal role in advancing your career. A mentor is someone who influences, guides, motivates or directs a less-experienced person, while a mentee is someone who is advised, trained or counseled by a mentor. The relationship is mutually beneficial, as both the mentor and mentee learn from each other.
“Like it or not, to be successful, we need to ask for help from others who can help us grow,” said Colleen Biggs, CEO at Lead Up for Women, an organization that promotes networking and mentoring of women in the business world.
Studies have shown there are many benefits to both mentors and mentees, including increased career opportunities and raises. According to Forbes, mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors, and mentors themselves are six times more likely to be promoted.
So, if you don’t currently have a mentor or mentee, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get one and start reaping the rewards of this mutually beneficial relationship.
Watch Colleen Biggs on The Daily Grind
How to Find a Mentor or Mentee
When looking for a mentor, Biggs recommended seeking out someone you admire who has been in the industry longer than you have. Admirable characteristics in a mentor could be their personality, working traits, success in business or overall drive to help others grow and develop.
“Don’t be afraid to ask someone to mentor you,” Biggs advised. “It’s very flattering for the mentor when someone asks, because it validates their own success.”
On the flip side, if you want to be a mentor and help someone else grow, develop or progress in their career, reach out and offer your support. “Mentors can believe and see the potential in others, even when they can’t see it themselves,” Biggs said.
Both mentors and mentees need to be willing to commit time and effort to the relationship, and mentees should be receptive to honest and constructive feedback. “You need to be open to not just hearing what want you want to hear,” said Jessica Fumo, Manager of Facilities at Removery, LLC.
The next step: actually taking the mentor’s advice and applying it.
What Makes a Good Mentor
Being a mentor gives you the chance to be the teacher and learn from a different perspective. “When we teach, we learn,” Biggs said. “If learning is beneath you, leadership is beyond you. No matter where we are in our lives, we should be constantly learning, and we can do that through mentorship.”
The role of a mentor is to give advice to help the mentee advance in their career. “A mentor should have a certain level of experience and be enthusiastic about [their mentee’s] career growth,” said Corrine Dwyer, Senior Manager of Global Events at ConnexFM. “They should be cheering them on and also serve as a trusted counselor when problems arise.”
Biggs said she cautions mentors not to try and groom their mentees to become mirror images of themselves. “That’s not what a mentor is,” she said. “Instead, you should be helping the individual achieve their goals and make connections. You should be helping your mentee find their greatness based on their strengths.”
Additionally, mentors need to make sure they carve out time to talk regularly and consistently with their mentees to hold them accountable for taking steps to achieve their goals. Mentors also should work to cultivate an honest relationship that is transparent and free of judgment
Valuable Lessons Learned
When Biggs aspired to climb the corporate ladder faster, she was fortunate to land the CEO of her former company as her mentor. “He helped me shift my mindset to think like a CEO,” she shared. “He taught me how to say ‘no’ to tasks that others could do and delegate instead.”
It’s important to note that you are not limited to having only one mentor or mentee. Cindy Collette, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at iCheck, has had multiple mentors throughout her career. The advice from one of her mentors — to get involved with associations — proved to be invaluable. “Within a few short years, I was the go-to person for a lot of the industry to find information … because I was able to learn so much from liaising with different individuals and exploring [different] opportunities,” she shared.
Fumo said that it was thanks to her mentor that she developed networking and communication skills, which opened her eyes to the broader FM industry. “I realized, ‘Wow, there’s this whole world out there in facilities management, which I’ve been working in for nine years, but I had no idea,’” she said. “Joining ConnexFM has opened up so many doors for me.”
Mentor vs. Sponsor: What’s the Difference?
When it comes to expanding career opportunities, mentorship is not the only type of relationship worth pursuing. FMs can and should take advantage of sponsorship, as well.
According to Colleen Biggs, CEO at Lead Up for Women, a sponsor is someone who is in
an authority position and can help open doors and provide opportunities to advance within your company.
“They can physically advance your career and help you move up because they have pull with the executive team,” she said. “They are people who see your potential, can talk about you in
a positive light and throw your hat in the ring for advancement opportunities when you aren’t even in the room.”
In contrast, a mentor is a partner who can teach you, work with you to improve your skills, hold you accountable and provide overall guidance. “A mentor tries to develop their mentee to be the best version of themselves,” Biggs said.
Mentorship in Facilities Management
In the FM industry, where men outnumber women 9 to 1, it’s especially important for men to mentor women and share their knowledge. “Men and women bring something different to the table because they have different traits and strengths,” Biggs said. “Both men and women have something to learn from each other.”
As more men in the FM industry mentor women, teaching them the knowledge and skills they need to be successful, the entire industry will benefit from more diversity in leadership roles as women rise through the ranks.
Companies and industries with formal mentorship programs have seen that it helps with employee engagement, retention, productivity and commitment. It also encourages those in leadership roles to connect with others with whom they may not typically interact. ConnexFM’s new mentorship program, along with its Women in Action and Young Professionals committees, will bring these benefits to the FM industry. Visit go.connex.fm/MentorshipSurvey.
ConnexFM’s Women in Action Committee
The Women in Action Committee supports the advancement and introduction of women into the facilities management industry through giving back, professional development and networking. Participation in the Women in Action Committee will give individuals the opportunity to work toward increasing the benefits of ConnexFM membership for women across the facilities management industry.
Jessica Fumo, Manager of Facilities, Removery, LLC
Jamie Delli Santi, Strategic Account Executive, Rubicon
Alexandra Pegnato, MBA, Networking Task Force Lead, Executive Vice President, Pegnato Roof Intelligence Network
Stefanie Driscoll, ProFM, Professional Development Task Force Lead, Vice President, Client Relations, Ferrandino & Son, Inc.
Thomas Kay, Give Back Task Force Lead, Chief Revenue Officer, SMG Holdings, LLC
Jason Miller, Construction Manager, The Buckle
Connie Jon, Northeast Facilities Manager, Industrious
ConnexFM’s Young Professionals Committee
The needs of young professionals differ from those of experienced veterans. Young professionals wish to receive guidance and career advice as they navigate through the facilities management industry. The objective of the ConnexFM Young Professionals Committee is to focus on the needs of those who are in the early stages of their careers. Also, the committee will focus on developing programs and benefits that are valuable to those advancing in their career and to provide a social and professional support network for this important segment of ConnexFM members.
Jenna Dominguez, Client Development Manager, Branded Group
Daniel Guajardo, Marketing Director, North American Signs
Alexandra DiPietro, Strategic Sales Representative, Herc Rentals
Elisha Gordan, National Search Consultant, MetroSeek
Rhiannon Martinez, Facilities Specialist, MyEyeDr.
Ana Perdomo, Lead Generation Specialist, North American Signs
Ethan Rosen, Senior Account Representative, Total Fire Protection
Matt Velker, CEO/Founder, OpenWrench