Mentoring II

I promised someone I would post the second part of  Dumbing Down. However, some comments to the DD post had me completing a previous post on mentoring.

@bk : “A new joinee in the team is not given the time/training to get along with the pace of the remainder of the team. More importantly than that… initial assessment/match of skills/capabilities and interest of the individual to perform the duties which the team is set to perform, is not done… leaving a huge skills/interest gap.
In some cases, a team member is treated to be just another number, a resource, a head count… that creates a very distant relationship within the management and the team members… leaving a very bad taste!
It also does not help if the individual is not given the opportunity/encouragement to speak up and be heard! “

@ghetu“…..coming to indian companies: the culture is pathetic and you don’t get rewarded even if you break the mountain. there is no place for an inexperienced guy unless he or she surrenders him/herself to a mentor. most of the indian bosses by culture are abusive. but they can be extremely good teacher and reay to sacrifice if you turn a disciple. it’s no godfather type but indians like and respct the idea of guru shishya.”

@rocksta : ” One should never look to making a family out of your bosses and colleagues. One at home is more than enough.”

From these remarks and my experience I have recognized that Mentoring isn’t favoritism and subjective encouragement of the chosen few above the rest;  Just like being mentored isn’t hero-worship, apple polishing and sucking up.

Mentoring is the guru-shishya tradition in its purest form and not something that results in a Ekalavya.

Mentoring is a responsibility much like parenting but unlike parenting this needs to be objective, equip the mentee with professional skills along with a healthy dose of constructive criticism when required.

Learning to let go and pushing when required goes along with the territory.

Unfortunately, from my conversations with people across various organizations and industrial verticals it seems mentoring is a lost art.

It has become more a case of  “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” in its vilest version.

  • An inept boss/mentor using a willing and at times a vulnerably gullible stooge
  • A scheming boss/mentor sharing information on a need-to basis and refusing to accept responsibility when the dices are down and quick to take plaudits without sharing it or giving credit to the larger team
  • Withholding information from the team or Selective dissemination of information to a chosen few
  • Lobbyism based on certain specs – a bong, a gujju, a malayali, Konkani, marathi, etc, etc…WHERE IS THE INDIAN in us I wonder most times I set foot in an Indian organization?!!
  • Lack of communication OR no communication
  • Harboring an atmosphere of distrust, politicking and consciously instilling mistrust of the senior management among the rank and file. And most often than not this is used to grow power and come across as the patron saint
  • Abuse of power
  • Using a carrot and stick policy, etc.

A good mentor not only acts as a bridge between the new joinee and the seasoned team but guides the greenhorn through the team make up, organizational structure and processes. A mentor needs to be open to feedback and proactively seek feedback and suggestions while equipping the recruit with professional and soft skills. Setting time aside on a regular and consistent basis is also important to keep the channels of communication open. Clear goals and expectations need to be defined. Encouraging the team to accept the new recruit on an equal footing is one way of establishing the right equation and easing the new recruit into the flow.

I am sure you must have had your fair share of great mentors and some pathetic ones. Please do share your experiences so we are better-prepared for the responsibility when we step into the bigger shoe.

On an aside, I was fortunate to encounter a key influencer early on in my career. He not only sparked my interest in the field of financial journalism, but nurtured in me a life-long fondness for what eventually became my career from a mere fluke of choice.

He  drilled the basics of journalism and finance in that order with immense patience into someone I’m sure was a very trying novice. Constantly throwing challenges my way he believed in my capabilities far more than I did and pushed me to achieve more than I thought I could. Good reportage and conducting insightful interviews were just a few of the life lessons I learned under his tutelage, not to mention being a consummate professional and taking challenges in my stride.  I learned the importance of sharing knowledge and having a healthy curiosity to learn more. Above all, I learned to believe in myself and reach out for a higher vision and push beyond my limits. Thank you s.


5 thoughts on “Mentoring II

  1. There was quite a bit I wanted to say on dumbing down but I see we’ve moved on. Here’s my 2 cents on mentoring. My first job was the only one I was mentored. I have some very fond memories of the mentoring period even though that has been the most difficult job so far. I survived. And on the way observed some “smart” workers, who were recognized for their “initiatives”, “eagerness” and “communities.” And realized that’s the way things work. Sorry about the babbling, hope this is making sense.

    • @anju. feel free to write on any of the posts you feel strongly about. it’s always open to reflection, and that is the whole purpose of this blog. do elaborate on what you mean by the ‘smart’ workers coz it has a different meaning to different people at different places 😉

      • I know…and I also know that you know. 😀 Though these days I am increasingly feeling what’s the point in all of this at all. Guess I’ve reached the age where the day starts after 6. And I am not complaining. 🙂

      • @which brings me to the question? Are women more prone to ennui at work than men because we have the leisure of an emotional/financial support system?

  2. If you ask me the answer will be no. No because i tried everything to make this work. But if you go on meeting un-necessary roadblock after roadblock does it not kill the enthusiasm to do anything? Roadblocks like playing favourites, not getting the minimum appreciation that you rightfully deserve. And i am not asking for the big bonus or sparkling appreciation mail, just a word of acknowledgement. And when the organization can’t even return that I distance myself, not from the work mind you, only the surroundings. I still do my job the best I can but it becomes impersonal, coz I no longer have the enthusiasm, coz it was killed. Does that answer all your questions?

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