Sunday, October 05, 2014

Mentorship... and hurdles

I saw a post today by an EMC exec on mentorship:

There are some good points in it specifically around the fact that very few people are "good/capable" mentors and even fewer are "good/capable" mentees.   It takes an inordinate amount of time/energy for a mentor to "connect" (mentally, emotionally, career-wise, lifestyle, background etc.) with a mentee.  And without a sustained connection, it is difficult to discuss deep issues/thoughts and wants/needs, let alone chart a course for the future.   Which, in turn, can lead to an unfruitful mentor-mentee relationship resulting in no progress.

Lately, I've been bombarded with well-meaning people (both men and women) wanting to "mentor" me because they think I need "guidance" and "advice".  None of them have a clue about me, made any attempt to truly understand me, my life, my background, what I'm about and what makes me tick.  I believe that they really do want to try to "help" me (in so much as trying to mold me into something that resonates with their own "acceptance criteria" so-to-speak), but, it has resulted in me being unresponsive to their offers.

I did run into one person several months ago whom, I think, I would like to have as a mentor, but, she is inordinately busy and has no time/inclination to mentor or even talk to me.    I imagine she gets bombarded with requests by too many people and is probably completely overwhelmed given that she is a VP at a rather large corporation.

And, I wonder, what's in it for the mentor?  The mentee gets someone who is instrumental in their development and progress resulting in, perhaps, something tangible.  The mentor gets a "feel good" ticket which may or may not last very long, resulting in burn out or disinterest.  Putting "Be a mentor" on your annual performance goals at work, sure doesn't seem right (to me).

I have mentored so many women over the last few years and some have done well and some are still struggling.  But, it has also burned me out a bit - the emotional/psychological bolstering, career scoping/focus, and creation of balance for each person requires a lot of deep thought, analysis, framing and gentle (or not) nudging.  And regular feedback.

So, what is the balance?  Have you found it?  If so, do let me know.