My organization started an epidemic program mid-epidemic and I was given the responsibility of mentoring a young and extremely talented colleague. I’m thrilled with this! But I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’m not doing enough for him. We check in regularly and talk about the big-picture issues he’s working on and the mix of specific projects, but I don’t control the effectiveness of his work, and we can’t meet in person and I don’t know if he’s up when he signs up. He was looking for the effect. How can I be a better mentor?
– New York
In New York, the good news is that with just one mentor your young coworker is already ahead of the game, although 75 percent of professional staff are interested in a mentor, according to Harvard Business ReviewOnly 3 percent of them said They have A mentor so remember that you are making some difference by appearing.
Although I will admit some mixed feelings about the company’s sponsored mentorship programs. This is definitely better than anything: Of course: in most (mostly?) Workplaces, if you’re lucky enough to be exceptional, some help from a helpful master will leave you drowning or swimming on your own. In my experience, however, official mentoring programs often seem to think that they are more about ticking a box of HR than reflecting real corporate values. Companies often start this effort in response to employee complaints that they see no way forward. And twice as much for women and people of color.
This view, however, is a somewhat square peg of a round hole. The biggest problem is not helping a true mentor promote someone (or at least not the only one). CEOs need mentors just like their assistants and agencies Is Creating a clear path to improvement is often daunting, especially for people who have been neglected for years or decades. But fixing That It takes hard, slow work to change a company without spending hours trying to get people together.
In fact some studies have shown that women suffer Too much Counselors, when they are actually needed SponsorshipSomeone is not advising someone, but someone is advising them to promote or increase. Personally, I have met or asked many more men who are interested in life lessons, than people who are interested in getting a seat at the table for my life achievement or results meeting. The next team, though, has had a bigger impact on my career. Meanwhile, my best mentors have always been colleagues, not superiors – the kind of guy I can go with is “Hey, how are you doing this?” Or who would suggest my name for opportunities.
None of this is to say that mentorship is not an issue even though there is no reason for your young colleague to aspire to be a better mentor. But to do that, you need to be very clear about his goals. Your question specifies that this is a volunteer program, so understanding what he had in mind when he signed up would be the key to a productive relationship. If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late. The second chapter may be more mission-centric.
An unbalanced burden that makes a relationship seem fruitful must not fall on the mentor, not the mentor. Only he knows how you can be most helpful to him and you should ask him directly. (People are often afraid to be awkward when asked, “What do you want from me?” But he also comes down to being a direct observer.) Is he interested in a career like yours? Does he need an older person to whom he can make the question too delicate to approach his boss? Or is he mostly looking for someone to stop the idea?