Throughout their careers, most people will have received some level of career advice, be it from a manager, a friend, a parent or a colleague.

Sue Clayton

Formalising this in the approach of mentoring or sponsorship can be hugely beneficial. Mentoring is an effective way of helping people develop specific competencies that will enable them to grow, gain confidence and meet their career aspirations outside habitual reporting lines. It is a partnership between two people – the mentor and mentee – with the view of helping the mentee become more self-aware and take responsibility for achieving their own goals, while the mentor develops their leadership skills and learns from their mentee.

It’s important to seek out a mentor whom you trust and respect – ideally one who has been through the process themselves. When looking for a mentor, find someone who is influential, working at least one level above you and can help you get noticed by the right audiences.

If you want to get promoted, don’t wait to be nominated. Set the wheels in motion at least 12 months before and proactively seek ways you can advance your career. If it’s confidence you are lacking, your mentor can help identify your strengths and find ways to tackle your weaknesses through constructive feedback.


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Sponsorship takes this process one step further – and in my experience is even more beneficial. A sponsor is someone who is senior in your organisation who will advocate on your behalf for development and promotion opportunities. While a mentor can give perspective and opinions, a sponsor helps you identify and take advantage of career opportunities. They can use their influence to involve you in high-level projects, expand your connections and introduce you to clients.

With either approach, it is pivotal that you make your ambitions known. When you have your performance appraisal, use it as an opportunity to reiterate your desired career goals. At the same time, be willing to identify areas of improvement before seeking promotion – how can you make sure you are as prepared as possible and what kind of additional experience could you benefit from?

At CBRE, we have a variety of mentorship schemes that contribute to talent development and employee satisfaction and retention – including a specialist promotion mentoring scheme through our Women’s Network. Women are typically more hesitant to put themselves forward for promotion or proactively advance their careers and to date, this scheme has been hugely successful. Promotion rates for women have improved, and we now have 25% at director level.

Approximately 75% of employees are projected to be millennials by 2030, making them the fastest-ever growing generation in the workplace. CBRE’s reverse mentoring scheme recognises the enormous influence this age group will have on the workplace in the coming years.

We hope these schemes will encourage people to be forthcoming in the workplace and to realise their potential. The toolkit prepared by Real Estate Balance includes several case studies and practical suggestions on mentoring schemes.

Sue Clayton is executive director at CBRE and co-founder of Real Estate Balance