It’s safe to say Lyn Immerman is steadily focused on achieving excellence. As a leader at True Value’s Center of Excellence, Immerman is responsible for partnering with local True Value businesses to strategically improve their operations and processes. Immerman credits EverwiseWomen with helping her continue her pursuit of excellence in her own career. By tactically working through real-world challenges with her mentor and peer group, Immerman found new ways to continue improving and developing her career each day. Read on to learn more about Immerman’s experience with EverwiseWomen, her mentor, and her peer group.
Editor’s Note: Some of the below answers have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Why did you join EverwiseWomen?
I was recognized by the leadership team at True Value as an up-and-coming leader. True Value partakes in the EverwiseWomen program, and four women were selected to participate.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know what to expect before I started. I felt like I have a seat at the table and I didn’t understand the necessity of a women-focused program. But I was recognized and so I took part in the honor.
How has the EverwiseWomen experience been now that you’ve begun the program?
The value I’ve seen from the EverwiseWomen program has surpassed all my expectations, especially because of its multi-faceted approach to career development. I wish I’d had programs like this at the beginning of my career. I would have benefited greatly from them — my teams would have too.
I’ve enjoyed the program so much that I lobbied heavily for a [high-potential] woman on my team to be a part of the next program. She has her whole career ahead of her; I wanted to make sure she has development opportunities like this one to help her along the way.
What part of the EverwiseWomen experience resonated most with you?
I’m able to get guidance in a real way for real situations that need to be resolved, addressed, moved forward.
When I need to discuss something concrete in real time, I have two avenues to get feedback: mentorship or my peer group. They both offer sounding boards for me to develop skills and find resources when they matter most to me.
The peer group is a group of four other women who meet monthly. Our meetings are held in an open space where ideas, concerns, questions are discussed. We provide feedback, support, and guidance on challenging real-life situations. These aren’t folks from my organization. And I feel I can speak freely. We all feel very lucky we were put into a group together. Whether I’m sharing my situation or listening to others share theirs, I’m learning from each discussion.
My mentor is a perfect match for me! He comes to the table each month totally present and 100% focused on helping me develop professionally. Our meetings primarily involve him listening and asking questions that challenge my thinking or put something into perspective. They feel like a work therapy session — whatever issues I’m dealing with, I’m given great thoughts to ponder and asked questions that bring my true issues or goals to light. I always leave feeling like I can take action based on the feedback I’ve gathered and what I feel is best.
How have you applied the program learnings to your work and your own career?
A couple ways:
From a management standpoint, the peer group has taught me to think about all perspectives when facing new issues. Through my peer group’s feedback, I’ve learned to try and resolve those issues in the most mutually beneficial manner possible.
From a career standpoint, the mentorship I’ve had has helped me firmly ground myself in a position I’m comfortable with. We all think ‘Where am I now in my career? What’s the best next step?’
My mentor’s reply to those questions were really good ones: ‘Well, what would make you happiest? The money? The title? Your work? Your team?’ Questions like these were very impactful for me. I had to think about my career and what motivates me. I learned that I’m motivated by being respected, working on interesting projects and with a great team. These guiding questions helped me put what I want out of a career into perspective.
Have you had mentors before? What was the experience like?
I had a boss that I considered to be a mentor earlier in my career but, as I reflect back, it was more of a boss/employee relationship. She wasn’t as focused on my career development. I was a great employee who worked hard and got great results. My boss wanted me to continue that great work [without ever having] sat me down to talk about my growth beyond my role. As a consequence, I ultimately grew by finding another place within the organization.
With EverwiseWomen, my mentor was someone I didn’t know directly. He didn’t have any line of sight into my workplace. He was a good listener and provided good input, without a personal stake involved in the outcome. He genuinely had my best interests and my goals for growth at heart. As a result, that mentorship changed my career path.
What advice do you have for someone looking to develop their own career?
My first piece of advice to everyone is the advice my mom gave me: Do the best you can do with everything you touch. When you take something on, do it because you want to — not because someone is telling you to. If you do that, you will be successful.
I also recommend that you find a place to hone your skills, get advice, spark discussions as they’re needed in real time. Look for a place, like EverwiseWomen’s peer groups, to hold tactical conversations that you can parallel to your own life.