Ben from Manhattan: Would my mentor actually ax me!?

Our group VP hired me originally and has taken me under his wing and become a very helpful role model and champion for me at our ad agency. He confides in me and is very frank in sharing with me what he sees as others’ terrible weaknesses. His comments can be quite caustic. Lately there has been extra stress at our office because clients have cut back on spending. Several people have told me my job may be in jeopardy. KittyShrink, could this really be possible?

Would your mentor ax you? Probably not. But he may have someone else do it for him. When all is said and done, most executives make the effort to a) protect themselves and b) protect their brood. If you are in a position to aid the mentor, increase revenue, increase opportunities and cut expenses…then you may be an asset even in a difficult economy. If you are simply trading on buddy-ism, performing a job many others could do for less and blindly assuming that your mentor will take care of you – particularly in these tough economic times…then you are just being an ass, not an asset. Whether you are starting out in business or are a seasoned professional you should be alert to the trends, understand what abilities are prized and rewarded, work toward honing skills that will be rewarding for you and for the company. And don’t expect that your boss’ pattern of behavior (like dissing all others) will leave you exempt or unscathed. Behavior patterns are very hard to break. And even though you may have what you idealized as a class “A” job, you should still have a Plan B. You should be grateful that you have business associates who alerted you to your vulnerability for whatever their motive. Try to put some effort into a back-up plan while simultaneously offering extra effort, ideas, enthusiasm to expand the impact of the role you currently have. Make your extra efforts seen by others in addition to your “mentor.” You should also suck up the gumption to ask your mentor for the truth about your future as he sees it. At the very least you may have learned an important lesson: It’s wise not to put all your eggs in one basket or one “mentor.” Your mentor may decide he wants a 4-egg omelet for lunch.

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