The Desk

May 20, 2007

A Time of Change

Filed under: Career Advancement,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 6:07 PM

Kevin Wheeler is one of my favorite authors on ERE. It’s is quite uncanny how he and John Sullivan and I seem to write on the same subjects at approximately the same times. But those observations are beside the point of this piece.

Kevin’s most recent article purports to speak to recruiters. But there are a lot of people being left out of the equation and therefore being passed over for opportunities, who are being perceived as not qualified. Some who are bypassed are those in whom we thought we had developed a healthy, trusting relationship — a mentor relationship. One of the things that is tacitly understood is that a mentor will recommend their student to others as progress in a particular area is being made, the validity of the work is solid, and (of course) there is excellence in the outcome.

In these presumed mentoring relationships, the usual elements were present. There was give, which was taken. There were connections that seemed worthwhile. There was various manners of information, advice, and leads supplied and used. Yet, as is discussed in “Being Left Out,” these manner of inroads are cast aside and the treatment is as though one is a clerk.

Kevin’s words make me wonder how you and I should interpret his words of advice and how we should fortify ourselves if the person we thought was a mentor is not making referrals to us for work nor recommending our talents in any way to others; in other words, they’re not really being a mentor. Instead, the mentor seems to develop amnesia when it comes to our name.

One of the things that may be causing the failure is part of the formula for networking and developing healthy relationships. Although the “student” receives the advice and there is follow through, the disciple forgets to report back to the mentor about the results of their endeavors. As the prodigy is learning new things, they either become shy or gain new-found popularity and overlook talking about the new inroads with their guide. Thus, there’s an impression that there’s no new learning. Actually, we learn something new each day. It’s merely a matter of determining what has been learned and communicating those concepts through conversation, emailed coup sharing, or just talking about the newest rage in innovations.

It could be that the coach already has the information and is looking for something even better. It’s wise to check ourselves when we share innovations. Our social networks and public profiles provide a means of interpreting what our counselor finds interesting and useful, a push of the envelope.

Fortunately, Kevin points out the areas where a person can fail in the area of credibility, the areas that the mentor will consider and then look to another for input. He also provides a recommended means of resolution for the deficiency in lack of business credibility, confidentiality, competence, speed in follow-through.

While this may seem like a wonderful formula for solving a disappointing turn of events, it is entirely possible that the oversight by the leader is intentional and none of the proffered remedies will act as a cure. This will happen when the mentor realizes, as happens in many student-instructor partnerships, that the relationship has gone as far as is possible. And reluctantly (because the leader actually does enjoy the thoughts, input, and company of the student) the mentor must push the enthusiast away. The student has learned all that the mentor can provide. They now stand shoulder to shoulder. The student is on their way to being more productive and farsighted than the instructor.

To be certain, Life is a long-term lesson book. We only reach the end of the lessons when we close our eyes for the last time. So there are still small things that can be learned from our model. But it is at this point that we have become colleagues and perhaps even competitors. It is now time to consider what the previous mentor is doing in terms of doing business or work that causes them to be sought after. These new lessons need to be taken in and molded to our style and brand so that we develop our own book of clients, on our own merit.

This is also the time to reconsider the issue of confidentiality. Because it is entirely possible that we are now competitors and the sharing of a recent lesson or new find is actually giving away potential business. Thus, if the person who used to be a patient conversationalist and allowed us to talk freely begins to interrupt our flow of speech, it would be wise to not consider this as a new twist in the personality that has turned our friend into an impolite boor. They are still being our trusted advisor by giving an extremely subtle hint that the fledgling needs to close its beak. It’s also time to leave the comfort of the nest.

It seems to me that what Kevin was talking about was not being left out, per se, but a change of life.

Electronics available at The Sharper Image

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