help! How can I become a better mentor?

Dear OOO,

My company launched a mentoring program during the pandemic, and I was assigned to be the mentor of a young and very talented colleague. I am very excited about this! But I can’t completely shake the feeling that I haven’t done enough for her. We check in regularly and talk about the mix of big issues and the specific projects she is working on, but I can’t control her work tasks, we can’t meet in person, and I don’t know if I’m always looking for the influence she wants when signing a contract. . How can I become a better mentor?

-new York

The good news for New York is that as long as you have a mentor, your young colleagues are already ahead.According to 75% of professional workers eager for guidance Harvard Business Review, Only 37% said they have tutor. Therefore, please rest assured that as long as you are present, you can make a difference to some extent.

However, I will admit that there is some mixed inconsistency in the guidance plan sponsored by the company. Of course, it’s better than nothing: In many (most?) workplaces, if you are very lucky, you can only sink or swim by yourself with the help of a supportive boss. But in my experience, the official guidance plan usually feels like it is more about human resources tick rather than reflecting the actual company value. Companies usually start these efforts to respond to employees’ complaints that they don’t see a path to advancement, and double it for women and people of color.

But this method is a bit like a square nail in a round hole. The biggest problem is that real coaching is not about helping someone get promoted (or at least not the only one). The CEO needs guidance as much as his assistants.And company Yes It is especially scary when it comes to creating a clear path forward, especially for people who have been neglected for years or decades.But fix that Require arduous and slow company changes, not just spend a few hours pairing employees.

In fact, some studies have found that women suffer from Too much Guidance, when all they really need is sponsor-It is not that someone advises them, but someone advocates a promotion or salary increase. Personally, I meet more people who are eager, eager or unwilling to accept the lessons of life than those who are interested in ensuring that I get honor for my work or get a seat in subsequent conference seats. However, the latter group is the one that has a greater impact on my career. At the same time, my best mentor has always been a colleague, not a superior. I can deal with people like this: “Hey, how do you deal with this problem?” Or who would suggest my name as an opportunity.

But this is not to say that coaching is not important, or the desire to be a better coach for your young colleagues is pointless. But to do this, you need to be very clear about her goals. Your question specifies that this is a voluntary program, so understanding her thoughts at the time of registration will be at the core of building an effective relationship. If you don’t do this early, it’s not too late-the first part of the relationship may be to get to know each other. Chapter 2 can be more focused on the task.

The overburden of making a relationship fruitful must fall on the counselee, not the counselor. Only she knows how you are most helpful to her, you should ask her directly. (People usually feel embarrassed when they ask “What do you want from me?”, but OOO is firmly defeated in direct terms.) Does she desire the same career as you? Does she need a senior person who can ask her too difficult questions to be able to ask her boss? Or is she mainly looking for someone to bounce back ideas?

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