Female Mentors: Stephanie Coffey Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite
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Female Mentors: Stephanie Coffey Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Female Mentors: Stephanie Coffey Leading the Next Gen to the C-Suite

Name: Stephanie Coffey

Title: Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Company: Frenchies Modern Nail Care

Years in Franchising: 17

Number of units: 24

Can you describe the role mentoring has played in your career? Early in my career, I was fortunate to have a strong mentor who saw my potential and realized that I was very eager to learn and develop in my new position and for years to come as I advanced in my career. My mentor believed in me, encouraged me to take risks, and guided me back on track when I wavered. He shared his valuable experience and insights, which allowed me to make informed decisions, avoid pitfalls, and make adjustments when needed. The strategic guidance throughout the years has been invaluable to my advancing my career objectives.

Why is mentoring important for female franchise leaders? Surprisingly, in the U.S., only 21% of senior leaders are women, which is below the global average of 24%. The need for guidance and community is critical for up-and-coming female leaders. We need the community, support, and guidance from one another to reach our potential and to protect and elevate the franchise industry.

What are the key elements of a good mentoring relationship? You treat it like a long-term relationship. You build trust and have a long-term commitment to the relationship. First, the mentor needs to have a desire to develop and help others. Not everyone is up for the task because it takes time and energy to build a mentoring relationship. Good mentors genuinely want to see someone else succeed. Also, the mentor needs to be open about sharing both their successes and their failures for learning purposes. You also must be discerning about the mentee you choose because of the time and energy commitment that you will be making for years. Mentees need to be committed to learning and growing in their professions. They also must be willing to seek and accept feedback from the mentor—both praise and constructive criticism.

What should the mentoring process include? Ideally, a good mentoring process should first include an agreement, whether it is informal or more formal. Both parties are committing their time and energy toward a mentoring relationship. Communication, alignment, and trust (C.A.T.) are pillars of a great mentoring process. Communication, as it relates to establishing regular check-ins, ensures that you are supporting the mentee in their desire to learn and grow. You are there to guide them in career advancement discussions and to listen and assist when they encounter workplace obstacles. Understand the mentee’s professional goals so that you can appropriately support them, but keep in mind that their goals most likely will change over the years. Open and ongoing communication and revisiting goals are critical to maintaining alignment. Last but not least, trust is a key element as it provides both parties confidence and clarity to make better and more informed decisions.

What were the three most important things you learned from mentoring? 1) The person you have identified to mentor may not want to grow in the area or to the extent that was initially identified for them, and their path may change over time. That is perfectly fine, and you have to remember that it is their journey you are helping them with and not your journey. 2) You may not be their mentor for their entire career, and they may have other mentors contributing as they grow in their careers. 3) Mentorship is a two-way street. It is rewarding to help navigate someone through the ups and downs of the business. As a mentor, you also continue to develop and sharpen your leadership skills, and you need to be open to gaining new perspectives on issues.

What advice do you have for female executives considering mentoring? Being a good and effective mentor takes time, but it is extremely rewarding when you see your mentee grow in their career. It is especially rewarding when they appreciate the journey and your commitment to them.

Published: March 25th, 2024

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