Every relationship experiences highs and lows. Obstacles are important to recognize and develop strategies in order to overcome. In this video, you will learn how to overcome some common obstacles in mentoring.
- Research demonstrates that 20% of formal mentoring relationships experience something negative at one point or another. This is a quote by scholars Murphy and Kram in Strategic Relationships at Work. If you are struggling now or have in the past with challenging mentoring situations, then please know you are not alone. In this video we are going to talk about two common obstacles that emerge in mentoring relationships and suggestions for how to overcome them.
The first common obstacle is incompatible schedules slash poor communication. Everyone is way too busy these days, and there are so many forms of communication. I know it is tempting to simply hide beneath our mountain of email and just give up scheduling our mentoring sessions. Here are some ideas to help you. Have a real conversation with your protege about each other's communication preferences. Make an agreement about how and when you will connect.
Make it the protege's job to schedule meeting times. For example, I have a mentor who refuses to text. I also have a protege who hates talking on the phone, so I can work with both of these because we communicated directly about it. Use a combination of communication processes that vary in information richness, so texting and email are low in information richness. In contrast, face to face communication is the most rich form of communication.
For example, I recently received this text message from a protege. Help, I just received a job offer in Hawaii, which I love, but it's working for a new manger that I don't love. Also it pays more but I'm afraid I might get island fever if I move. What do you think I should do? I felt like this situation was way too complicated to discuss over text, so I replied and suggested we bump up our communication to a richer format.
I said, aloha and congratulations. This is complicated. Can you call me today at 5:30 and we can talk? The second common obstacle is disengagement. For whatever reason, maybe one or both of you is just not feeling it. This might happen at the beginning of the relationship or can grow over time. Disengagement can be one sided or mutual. Disengagement might be due to a personal problem, a skill deficit, or the relationship is simply no longer beneficial.
For example, I had a protege who wanted to apply to doctoral programs. We decided to write an article together, which was going to be a win win. Unfortunately she did not meet deadlines and her work was poor. I was under a tight deadline, so I just did the work myself and I disengaged. In response, she stopped responding to my emails. Finally I realized that as the mentoring expert, I had better practice what I preach, so I set a meeting with her and applied the following steps.
One, don't jump to assumptions or take anything personally. Assume that you both have good intent and try to be curious about why things are off track instead of angry. Two, use I statements and directly tell your protege about what obstacles you are encountering in your relationship and how they are impacting you. Three, listen to your protege's responses and follow their lead in the conversation.
If your protege says something like oh, everything's fine, I'm just busy, then you need to probe deeper, then clarify your expectations. Four, give your protege a chance to improve their behavior. If it does not improve, consider taking a break from the relationship, temporarily or even permanently. It was a hard conversation, but we came out of it with the mutual understanding that we wished each other well but didn't want to work together anymore, and my protege admitted that this process helped her realize that a career in academia was not for her.
Remember, it is normal that obstacles will arise in mentoring relationships. The good news is that learning how to navigate through obstacles can make you a better mentor.
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