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Thread: Have you ever had a mentor?

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    Senior Member Pinnacle-Project's Avatar
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    Have you ever had a mentor?

    In my career, I meet with my supervisor once per week. I also have been in a mentoring program since earlier this year in which I meet with a person once a month who works in this organization but in a completely different area. In addition to this, I was recently selected for another program which involves companies throughout Michigan. I have a mentor in that program also. I have met with her once so far and will continue to meet with her monthly for about six months.

    I consider myself to be a pretty independent person so meeting with this many people seems a bit much to me. Meeting only with my supervisor would probably be sufficient although there are advantages to meeting with people outside my immediate work area. The other person I meet with from my organization is probably too busy to be a mentor but neither of us mind going out to lunch once a month. Our conversations are not particularly deep but that is okay.

    I think my most recent mentor wants badly to be involved and do a good job. Ideally, I should come to her with problems and she would help guide me through them. Unfortunately, I do not really know what I am going to ask her about yet. I will try to come up with something before our next meeting.

    I have had two people I considered mentors in my adult life. One started in college, the other about five years ago. I think one aspect that helped each relationship was that I knew each of them for about a year before I even started to think of them as being a mentor. I have spent less than two hours so far with my most recent mentor. I suppose I could start e-mailing and calling her in preparation for our next meeting but that would feel forced rather than letting the relationship build in a natural fashion.


    Have you ever had a mentor? If so, what do you think led to either the success or failure of that relationship? I would welcome any other thoughts you may have.

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    Senior Member Tekboy's Avatar
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    I had a mentor who became my best friend. I have known him for 35 years now, and the most important thing he ever taught me was that I can't learn anything with my mouth open.

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    Senior Member slgrieb's Avatar
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    I would say, in my last corporate job, I worked with two guys I would consider mentors. Many years ago, I was being looked at for a promotion, though I didn't know it at the time. We were in the middle of some major acquisitions and reorganizations. One of our corporate VP's spent about 6 months raking my ass over the coals on a regular basis as he reviewed my work. Two of the most frequent remarks he made during his visits were, "Do it this way! Do I have to explain it?" and "Clean your desk! Do you need that pencil out now?" or the equivalent. He had been Special Forces in Vietnam, which somewhat explains his style. When the dust settled I got the new job, and my new boss said, "I'd say I'm sorry about the training, but if you want to see what someone can do, you put their ass on the stove and turn up the heat."

    The man I consider my second mentor; I worked with in several different branches and departments over a period of roughly four years, and he taught me that often, you can get better performance from your subordinates by quietly telling them your expectations than kicking their balls up around their ears when they fail. So, I came around to the realization that often subordinates fail because their manager hadn't clearly defined his expectations and provided enough feedback and direction. Though I always had employees who benefited from a swift kick to the nuts on occasion.
    Yes, Mr. Death... I'll play you a game! But not CHESS !!! BAH... FOOEY! My game is...
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    Senior Member Pinnacle-Project's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slgrieb View Post
    I came around to the realization that often subordinates fail because their manager hadn't clearly defined his expectations and provided enough feedback and direction.
    I agree. This is often a problem. Maybe because the manager is not good at his/her job. Maybe because staffing is so thin the manager does not have time.

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    Senior Member slgrieb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinnacle-Project View Post
    I agree. This is often a problem. Maybe because the manager is not good at his/her job. Maybe because staffing is so thin the manager does not have time.
    I think this is more of a personal issue for managers and in particular some guys who are old school are just predisposed to kicking ass and taking names. I mean, I used to be one of those guys. I just don't see it as a staffing issue, because you are always better off to invest the time in getting things done right the first time than having to go back and fix shit that went pear shaped.
    Yes, Mr. Death... I'll play you a game! But not CHESS !!! BAH... FOOEY! My game is...
    WIFFLEBALL!

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    Senior Member Gazzak's Avatar
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    Why would an adult need a mentor?

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    Senior Member Pinnacle-Project's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazzak View Post
    Why would an adult need a mentor?
    Nobody knows everything so it can be useful to have someone to talk to who has more experience in a specific area.

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    Senior Member slgrieb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazzak View Post
    Why would an adult need a mentor?
    Sometimes, it's a real boost to your skills to work with people who are clearly the best of the best. It can also be a reminder that even if you are really good at your job, you can always become better.
    Yes, Mr. Death... I'll play you a game! But not CHESS !!! BAH... FOOEY! My game is...
    WIFFLEBALL!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Gazzak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinnacle-Project View Post
    Nobody knows everything so it can be useful to have someone to talk to who has more experience in a specific area.
    Quote Originally Posted by slgrieb View Post
    Sometimes, it's a real boost to your skills to work with people who are clearly the best of the best. It can also be a reminder that even if you are really good at your job, you can always become better.
    OK thanks, it's just that it's not something I've ever heard of over here. I know some managers that could seriously do with one!

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    I had a mentor back in college when I was an intern. She was a very nice woman who brought me into the office life. It was easier for me to undergo an interview at work after that; she taught me not to be afraid of new teams.

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