Not every relationship with a protégé is perfect. In this video, three types of toxic protégés and discussed with techniques on how to cope with them.
- Let's learn about the three types of toxic proteges and discuss how to cope with them. The first toxic protege type is the flake protege. The flake protege can be simply unaware and thus relatively benign, or be engaging in passive aggressive warfare. For example, I had a protege ask me to connect him with an LMU alumna who worked at Google, so I reached out to this alumna and she graciously agreed to talk with my protege.
I hate to tell you this, but my protege dropped the ball and failed to follow up with her. This made us both look like flakes. If you have a flake protege, here is what I recommend. First, I suggest that you clearly set your expectations with your protege. So after that experience, I always tell proteges that I expect them to follow up within one week of an introduction. Second, you need to make your protege responsible for a task.
For example, if a protege wants me to connect them, I have them do research and prepare questions to ask ahead of time. Third, if the protege does flake, you need to confront and give consequences. The second type of toxic protege is the bully protege. In my book, Power Mentoring, Dr. Judith Gwathmey, recipient of the Presidential Award from the National Science Foundation, shared this story. A defining moment in my mentoring relationship occurred with a student of mine at a national meeting.
I was walking around during the meeting and looking at his poster presentation. He's a very smart guy. Later, a colleague came to me and said, "Judy, what is wrong with your student? He's so rude, he's a maniac and is not going to be invited back to this conference." So I took him aside and said, "I will tell you something "about people who come from our lab. "You represent me, and you represent everybody in the lab, "so you either reflect what I have tried to teach you "about behaving professionally, or go home." He apologized and said he was so sorry, but he had seen other mentors behave aggressively at other institutions, and he thought that was the way to do it.
Sadly, bully mentors can beget bully proteges. Like Dr. Gwathmey, you may have to undo the damage caused by past bad mentors. Dr. Gwathmey handled this situation perfectly, as she immediately gave her protege clear feedback, consequences and communicated her expectations. The third toxic type of protege is the betrayer protege. The betrayer protege might gossip, lie or even sabotage you.
For example, in Power Mentoring, one of our interviewees was former US Representative David Dreier. Congressman Dreier shared this example of betrayal. Jay Kim was elected to Congress as a Republican, and I was his mentor. Unfortunately, he got into real trouble and was convicted of campaign finance misdemeanors. I supported him to the end because he looked me in the eye and said he was not guilty. Well, he was guilty, and I was politically attacked and called a crook by association.
When I mentor someone, I am intensely loyal and I supported him until the very end, but I paid a price. The best way to recover from breach of trust is to confront the protege. Publicly acknowledge the betrayal and take responsibility for your own actions. Then apologize to any hurt parties and reflect on what you learned for the future. Relationships are never perfect and everyone makes mistakes. However, when a protege turns toxic, I encourage you to confront them and apply lessons learned to future mentoring relationships.
She also offers guidance on building trust and chemistry, providing feedback, and helping your protégé make critical career and work decisions and become resilient in the face of challenges. She also helps you address common obstacles, including a protégé that fails to meet expectations or violates trust, and explains how to gracefully exit the relationship.
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- Building a relationship with your protégé
- Talking and listening with impact
- Giving feedback
- Developing trust
- Setting goals
- Developing your protégé's skills
- Managing mentoring relationships
- Overcoming common obstacles
- How to make time for mentoring