12 Nov Should you be jealous of your employee’s mentor?
Mentoring relationships can be powerful and, when paired well, can last years and span employers, roles, and bosses. What should you do when faced with an employee who has a mentor relationship that is powerful, full of influence and shaping their development?
Embrace It! Here are a few reasons why:
They are taking responsibility for their own growth and development. As a manager, you can’t be everywhere all the time when an employee seeks out a mentor. They are expressing their interest in growth and development and shifting responsibility away from you to themselves. They are shaping it. They know better than anyone else what they want to learn and how they want to grow, and they are best suited to define it for themselves. This enables you to focus your conversations on performance, providing feedback, offering learning and insight to their current role, and supporting their growth and development specific to this role and career path.
Mentors are a free space. With a mentor that is not their boss, the mentee has a free space to work through things they may not be ready to share on the job, to make mistakes, ask ‘stupid’ questions, challenge themselves in different ways than they might with someone monitoring their performance and making compensation decisions. Additionally, it provides a safe space to complain and vent when things are challenging on the job. Mentors offer a sounding board to manage those situations, because sometimes those situations are with you, the boss.
It’s not personal. Have you heard the saying, you don’t have to like everyone you work with, but you do have to work effectively with them? I suspect you’ve been in that situation also. Sometimes reporting relations do not have the right kind of chemistry to support a mentoring relationship. That’s ok! Just support what they need to thrive.
All in all, mentor relationships develop through programs as well as organically. Both work! If your employee has a relationship that they trust, worry less about that mentor and more about what gaps in their development where you can assist their growth and performance.