Mentoring is an important part of the professional experience. Both learning important lessons and gaining insights from those above me and doing my best to pass along the things I’ve learned to the folks I have come to manage in my career have been full of great moments as well as failures. While reviewing some of the resources for this course I realized that I have never really thought critically about what the important aspects to look for while being both a mentor and a mentee are. I have had several of both in my life and I have done a better job with some than others – I certainly wish that I had been given some of these tips a long time ago…
In her article Feedback is a Gift Carole Robin talks about the importance of providing valuable feedback to employees. While I am immediately drawn to think of my superiors who have struggled to provide me meaningful feedback over the years, I have much to learn about providing feedback to others – I would not be surprised if this helps me as well when I am asking for feedback from others. The biggest takeaway for me was the idea that providing good feedback takes practice and patience – In that same vain I need to practice my patience when others are providing me feedback as well because there is a good chance that they are feeling the same thing.
Tanmay Vora, in his piece about effective collaborative leadership, suggests that an awareness of others and a desire for feedback is central to becoming better leaders. The quote he uses, while cliché, is pertinent:
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” — Ryunosuke Satoro
It certainly seems that we are currently more collaborative than ever in our schooling and employment. This semester alone almost every single class culminates with a group project. What I have learned is that managing these groups and helping to foster a collaborative energy is vital to providing an excellent product. Whether I am leading a group or not it would certainly be helpful know how effective I am being as both a group member and a group leader.
Both articles get at the importance of feedback in multiple settings – While the default idea of feedback seems to be positive feedback – negative feedback can be paramount to maximizing potential. In her article about the cultural barriers of criticism Erin Meyer talks about how some cultures are upgraders and some are downgraders – Some cultures will be very direct with statements (Upgraders) and some will tone down the language (downgraders). I have heard stories like these before where differences in understanding between cultures have even proved deadly in the case of some south Korean pilots communicating with some American air traffic controllers, Malcom Gladwell talks about this in one of his books. While it may not always be so obvious there is a certain about of awareness required when engaging those that are not like us. I experience this every day and I hope to continually improve in this area.
In this blog post so far, I have jumped around between topics a bit – But I think there is one idea that can tie it all back together. That being that it would always be nice to have someone who is a little bit more experienced to help guide us through the ropes. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph I have had several mentors who have helped me to improve and be a better human at so many phases of my life. As I was looking through the Mentoring Guide for Students put together by the University of Washington there were some areas that I feel I have really been graced by a great mentor – but in other relationships I could have capitalized more on the learning opportunity. The guide helped me to identify some of the areas where I could better manage my expectations for mentoring opportunities I have. I am looking forward to incorporating some of the lessons I learned reading these articles into my future career professionally and otherwise.