Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

“Be a marvelous mentor”/ “My attempt to climb the ladder backfired horribly”

Apr. 15: “Be a marvelous mentor”: I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Apr. 13, 2015.  This was an inspirational article to reach your goals:
 
Mentors are advisers, coaches, guides and teachers. They assume a delicate, complicated role. And it’s easy, with the ego boost the role can provide, to get carried away. But it’s not about you, when mentoring. It’s about them. Specifically, it’s about encouraging self-learning by your talented protégé.

 
“It’s tricky but exciting and satisfying when you help them and they come back the next week and say, ‘That’s exactly what I needed,’” Vincent O’Connell, a trainer based McLean, Va., said in an interview. He co-wrote the book 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Mentors with executive coach Stephen Kohn, of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

 
The process will have three elements: Self-actualization, self-awareness building, and becoming naturally more empathetic. That may not be top of mind when the mentoring relationship is formed. Protégés will have heady thoughts of career progression, of better jobs in the future. But those will come if the protégé – or mentee, as Mr. O’Connell calls them – can be guided in those three foundational areas.

 
Self-actualization is not meant to open up a discussion of the meaning of life. It should be more closely tied to fulfillment in work. The protégé needs to think about the meaning of what he does professionally, the impact of work on him and those close to him, and the things that would make work more fulfilling.

 
“It will change from mentee to mentee. The mentor is not there to teach him how to do it, but to get the mentee motivated to think it through,” Mr. O’Connell said.
 
Self-awareness involves exploring the protégé’s own strengths and weaknesses. Notably, emotional self-awareness must be considered – knowing what you are feeling, and why.
 
Becoming naturally more empathetic follows Steven Covey’s prescription in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Empathy is of considerable advantage in career advancement, as the protégé connects with a wide-ranging group of colleagues and eventually leads others.

 
These three foundations of mentoring – and growth – are built through conversation, notably probing questions, as well as the mentor modelling the behaviour himself. When the protégé is aflutter about some workplace calamity, the mentor should be cool and collected. When the protégé is eager for advice, the mentor might reply that he doesn’t yet understand the situation fully.

 
The nine practices they outline in the book build on that foundation. Here are some key principles:

 
Model emotional intelligence

 
The two authors believe emotional control is a cornerstone of relationships, which in turn is central to work success. “It’s the platform – the foundation for talking about the other skills,” Mr. O’Connell said in the interview. The four elements of emotional intelligence are emotional self-awareness and self-management, and relationship awareness and management.
 
The idea is not so much to talk about these factors but to model them, so the style will emulated by the protégé.

 
Explore motivation

 
It’s vital to understand what motivates the protégé – and how much of that comes from internal drivers and how much external, like status and money. Mentoring works best when the protégé is intrinsically motivated, saying, for example, “What I would like is for my team to get the most out of each person’s potential. That excites me.” The mentor can now tie things together, around that ambition, as they move ahead.

 
When the protégé is extrinsically motivated, Mr. O’Connell says the mentor will offer more specific advice because it’s about direct career success, and the pathways are clearer, although sometimes along the way intrinsic motivation will be revealed.

 
Identify and pursue stretch goals

 
Mentoring is about making a significant career advancement – the individual is hoping for that and so is the company if it encouraged the relationship. So don’t get lost in incrementalism.
 
“The key to any kind of mentoring is to raise the bar as high as possible,” Mr. O’Connell said. “You need to set goals as high as the mentee can handle.” There’s no specific rule for that – it’s an art to determine the ultimate potential of the individual.

 
Safeguard credibility

 
To be successful, you must be credible. That comes in two forms: Truthfulness, notably the view that what you are saying is what you mean; and the ability to be seen by others as skilled enough for the roles you assume.

 
The mentor will want to discuss times when the protégé’s honesty and credibility were tested, and how that was handled. As well, the protégé must be prodded to think about how they will be evaluated by others in the jobs they aspire to, what skills they currently lack, and how to develop them.

 
“If you get the opportunity to be a mentor, you should do more than wing it and spew out how you did it or regurgitate best practices. Instead, start with what the protégé wants for their career and focus on their needs, and make the time and emotional investment to help them,” he concludes.

 
 
“My attempt to climb the ladder backfired horribly”: This was in the Globe and Mail on Apr.13, 2015.
 
THE QUESTION

 
I was trying to move up at work and asked my boss whether I could supervise clerical staff. He approved, but the staff did not want to be supervised and went to human resources. HR then said I couldn’t supervise other clerical staff because I am also classified as clerical, on the same level.

 
My boss was apparently unaware of this situation, but hasn’t stuck up for me, implying that I kept information from him when I pushed for a position I am not classified to do.
I try hard to do my job but have lost credibility. I see no prospect for moving up as management now views me as toxic when it comes to supervising others. Everyone in the office hates me, even though I have tried to explain to colleagues that I just wanted to get a promotion.

 
I love my job but hate the turn of events. I just want things to go back to the way they were before. How can I get rid of this cloud over my head and get my co-workers to see that I’m not try to backstab them?

 
THE FIRST ANSWER
Colleen Clarke
Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

 
We are, unfortunately, judged by our actions, not our intentions. Without an official promotion, one doesn’t usually just start supervising a peer group.
 
Clear up matters with your manager as soon as possible. Explain exactly what your intentions were in supervising others and how you approached your colleagues. Ask for his advice and support on mending your relationship with your peers. (Asking people for advice makes them feel important and part of the solution.) Also check with HR to see what they suggest.
 
You have probably built bridges and trust with your colleagues over the years. Now is the time to ask for that “benefit of the doubt” to be shown.

 
Write a succinct letter to the team apologizing for whatever you did that has upset them. Then, speak to them one to one so you can read their body language and discuss their individual concerns. Work on winning the team over one by one.

 
In the meantime, look for leadership opportunities in and out of the office.

 
Take a course and read books on supervision. Practice self-leadership, become an example. Volunteer in your community or on an internal committee that requires a supervisory component. Prepare your résumé with these new leadership skills and start looking for advanced opportunities where you will be appreciated.

 
THE SECOND ANSWER
Zuleika Sgro
Senior Manager, Talent Management Services, Questrade Inc., Toronto

 
It sounds as if your manager may have been trying to provide you with what you asked for without going through the appropriate communication channels. Communication to the team of any change in reporting structure is imperative to ensure success.

 
Being a people manager – a good one – also requires training on how to be a good leader versus being a star performer in your current job. A promotion does not always mean being a people manager and not everyone is suited to managing others.

 
To move forward, prove your value and trustworthiness by being an exceptional colleague to your peers. Support them by doing your job well, with genuine intentions, and promote a team atmosphere.

 
I would also encourage you to speak to your manager about your concerns and ask for support in re-establishing your trust with the team.

 
 

 

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