Kathy Kram Publishes New Book on Mentorship

in Faculty, News, Organizational Behavior
June 18th, 2014

For success in business and life, a network of developers is key

Time was when the right training, a promising job opportunity, and the support of a senior colleague were enough to advance in your career. Those days are gone.


Richard C. Shipley Professor in Management Kathy Kram

In a world where, at every moment, the economy is globalizing, technology is developing, and the workplace is changing, it takes much more to achieve success, regardless of the industry. To keep pace with these current realities, making relationships through which we can learn new skills, develop new opportunities, and build effective collaborations is essential, according to Kathy Kram, Richard C. Shipley Professor in Management at Boston University School of Management.

Kram and Wendy Murphy, associate professor of management at Babson College, have published a new book titled Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life (McGraw-Hill), which provides guidelines for building relationships that are crucial to personal success. The book draws upon 30 years of research to offer practical advice on mentoring, coaching, mentoring circles, and developmental networks—advice that is key to staying ahead in an environment with ever-shifting trends.

“These trends make us all novices over and over again as we necessarily move to a new job, new organization, or new country,” Kram says. “It’s almost impossible to be an expert for very long.”

This is where supportive work relationships play a critical role.

“Finding a mentor is no longer sufficient,” Kram says. “Instead, each of us has to build a network of developers that can help us to continuously learn, innovate, and work with others.”

In three parts, Strategic Relationships at Work gives readers a guide to identifying high-quality relationships, how to build them, and what to do when they go awry.

The first part of the book provides an overview of what makes for high-quality relationships and gives the reader a number of assessment tools to create a personal strategy for building an effective circle of mentors, sponsors, and peers. Kram and Murphy argue that you must first know yourself—your values, goals, interests, talents and limitations—before you can begin to build supportive relationships. Once this self-knowledge is developed, it’s up to you to assess whether you have relationships in place that can help you achieve your aspirations.

From there, the authors offer strategies for building different types of relationships and invites those in leadership positions to foster developmental relationships in their organizations through formal programs, their own efforts to build effective alliances, and rewarding others for doing so.

What if things sour? When is it time to “break up” with your mentor? The third part of the book outlines how to end a relationship that has gone awry to minimize negative impact on your career. Via case examples of “tor-mentors,” Kram and Murphy illustrate the “red flags” that suggest when a relationship is no longer mutually beneficial, and offer specific communication tactics for ending it and moving on.

With this book in hand,” Kram says, “you will be able to form mutually rewarding relationships at work, create strong connections with meaning and purpose, and experience greater satisfaction and success—in business and life.”

Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life is available for purchase here.