Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

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Pomegranate
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Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Pomegranate » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm

I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports. Few weeks back I met a manager from a sister department who is 3 levels higher then me in a team building event and we had a good talk. The very next day he offered to have a monthly 1 on 1 'mentoring /coaching / career development' meeting. Of course I accepted that but I'm very confused - what topics to discuss and what to avoid, unspoken rules etc :confused

livesoft
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by livesoft » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:09 pm

Simply ask your new mentor.
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HomeStretch
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by HomeStretch » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:27 pm

1. Make sure whoever mentors you is well regarded in the organization.

2. Stick to business. Don’t discuss personal matters, be needy, gripe or bad mouth anyone. Not saying you would but sometimes people mistake business mentors for personal friends or therapists.

Edited for typo
Last edited by HomeStretch on Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
Pomegranate
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Pomegranate » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:51 pm

HomeStretch wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:27 pm
1. Make sure whomever mentors you is well regarded in the organization.

2. Stick to business. Don’t discuss personal matters, be needy, gripe or bad mouth anyone. Not saying you would but sometimes people mistake business mentors for personal friends or therapists.
How to politely say 'I'm open to the new opportunities across the org' and avoid the questions 'what's wrong with your current manager' :) ?

Leemiller
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Leemiller » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:12 pm

For the initial meeting I think you show enthusiasm for the company, appreciation for the mentoring, and keep your focus on how your mentor can help you add more value. If your mentor wants to pitch another division, they will. If you pitch it, it could be a turn off.

ZapRowsdower
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by ZapRowsdower » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:51 am

As others have said, be careful not to badmouth coworkers, managers, reports etc.

As far as what TO do, I'd recommend talking with them about your career goals and see if they can give you advice to help you get there. You could also ask them what their career path was and if there's anything they'd do different if given the opportunity. I've been on both sides of this at my MegaCorp and found that it can be a very valuable experience for both parties if done right and a big waste of time if done wrong.

mak1277
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by mak1277 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:54 am

Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:51 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:27 pm
1. Make sure whomever mentors you is well regarded in the organization.

2. Stick to business. Don’t discuss personal matters, be needy, gripe or bad mouth anyone. Not saying you would but sometimes people mistake business mentors for personal friends or therapists.
How to politely say 'I'm open to the new opportunities across the org' and avoid the questions 'what's wrong with your current manager' :) ?
Talk about your desire to continue to grow you role and add value to the company...ask about the best way to do that, including the possibility of moving to other groups in the company.

carolinaman
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by carolinaman » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:59 am

I agree with what others have said. I think a good start in the first meeting is summarize your background and experience and what your career goals are. I also suggest that you inform your manager that this person will be mentoring you, just in case there are any issues with this person mentoring you.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:02 am

General rule: Listen. Don't talk. It will be obvious when you have to talk and if it's not, just don't.
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naclt
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by naclt » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:25 am

I have the same situation at my megacorp currently. I go into each conversation with a list of things to discuss just in case my mentor looks to me to drive the conversation (I.e. what do you want to talk about today). If the conversation naturally occurs I save those same items for the next meeting. They’re mostly general topics (what’s served you well in your career, how is your team organized, how to ensure you’re adding value, how long should someone remain in role, potential next steps in my career, issues i may be working through, etc).

Our first meeting was mostly around my work history, what I enjoy doing, how often we should meet, and so on.

It’s really just turned into a great opportunity for me to pick their brain.

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WoodSpinner
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by WoodSpinner » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:07 am

OP,

Mentoring or being mentored is a great opportunity to learn and network, make the most of it.

The Megacorp I worked at (retired Jan2018), had a formal mentoring program which I participated in for 15+ years. Here were some of the best parts of this structured approach.

Start off with a mutual discussion and set up ground rules, consider:
- Privacy
- Goals (e.g. the Mentee should have a few clear goals in mind)
- Meeting frequency and location
- Expectations for handling of Action items (homework:
- communications (Email, Phone, Face-to-Face)
-Start and End Dates

Take notes, share and review to make sure they are well defined. With some practice this won’t take long but it really provides a good framework. Strongly suggest you have a few key goals in mind for the first meeting. You need to drive that part and let your Mentor help drive how to accomplish them.

The mentoring process was one of my favorite parts of my career! It helped me learn, grow, and build important networking relationships. Never mattered if I was the Mentee or Mentor —- always got something from the relationship.

WoodSpinner

RollTide31457
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by RollTide31457 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:13 am

Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports. Few weeks back I met a manager from a sister department who is 3 levels higher then me in a team building event and we had a good talk. The very next day he offered to have a monthly 1 on 1 'mentoring /coaching / career development' meeting. Of course I accepted that but I'm very confused - what topics to discuss and what to avoid, unspoken rules etc :confused

The higher level manager must have a performance objective that requires mentor/mentee interactions. Nothing more to it. You should not disclose any personal information and definitely don’t share career goals.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:47 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:02 am
General rule: Listen. Don't talk. It will be obvious when you have to talk and if it's not, just don't.
Generally, this creates a very poor experience for both the mentor and mentee.

I can tell you as a mentor, I find the richest conversations we have are those that are thought about ahead of time, and socialized to both parties. Go into your first meeting loose. I would expect it to be a "get to know you" session. Talk about your story, your background, what brought you to the company. Ask those questions of your mentor, learn more about her/him. This is also a great time to determine what your next meeting looks like. Learn what your mentor expects from this relationship. I ask my mentees to occasionally come up with things they would like to discuss. It could be their goals, a particular problem they are trying to solve at the moment, questions about culture, etc.

Your mentor should get something out of this relationship as well. If you simply show up and listen as stated above, I would expect this to become an epic fail.

Best of luck.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:52 am

RollTide31457 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:13 am
Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports. Few weeks back I met a manager from a sister department who is 3 levels higher then me in a team building event and we had a good talk. The very next day he offered to have a monthly 1 on 1 'mentoring /coaching / career development' meeting. Of course I accepted that but I'm very confused - what topics to discuss and what to avoid, unspoken rules etc :confused

The higher level manager must have a performance objective that requires mentor/mentee interactions. Nothing more to it. You should not disclose any personal information and definitely don’t share career goals.
Not sharing career goals sounds like a terrible idea. We all have goals (or should). We expect folks to have goals. If you are not discussing your career goals with others (your boss, your director, your mentor), how could you ever expect to advance toward them? If you cannot have those conversations, you may want to think of leaving your employer.

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Pomegranate
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Pomegranate » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:12 am

TallBoy29er wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:52 am
RollTide31457 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:13 am
Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports. Few weeks back I met a manager from a sister department who is 3 levels higher then me in a team building event and we had a good talk. The very next day he offered to have a monthly 1 on 1 'mentoring /coaching / career development' meeting. Of course I accepted that but I'm very confused - what topics to discuss and what to avoid, unspoken rules etc :confused

The higher level manager must have a performance objective that requires mentor/mentee interactions. Nothing more to it. You should not disclose any personal information and definitely don’t share career goals.
Not sharing career goals sounds like a terrible idea. We all have goals (or should). We expect folks to have goals. If you are not discussing your career goals with others (your boss, your director, your mentor), how could you ever expect to advance toward them? If you cannot have those conversations, you may want to think of leaving your employer.
Yeah, completely agreed with that

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jjunk
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by jjunk » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:43 am

My best mentee's have been those who come into the conversations with an initial idea as to what they'd like to get out of the interaction. Do you want to know more about what being a good M1 is? Are you having issues dealing with tough employee conversations? Are you looking for advice on how promotion velocity is handled? Etc, etc. Whatever it is, come into the conversation with something in mind from your perspective so they dont need to do all of the talking.

Depending on your field, the topics you can/cant discuss will vary. I know in my industry (software), it's a pretty much anything goes type environment. I've had mentee's which just wanted to complain about the org/group and I helped them with understanding why they were frustrated. In some cases, I even helped them find new teams because ours wasnt a good fit. In other sessions, a lot of our discussions revolved around simply how to do their day to day jobs at their level. This involved level setting what their expectations were from an org perspective and helping them find ways to prioritize their work and work day. It all comes down to what you want out of the interaction. Since you didnt broach the subject, I'd consider letting the mentor kick things off. Just have something in your back pocket in case they dont.

sambb
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by sambb » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:22 pm

"how can i learn innovative ways to contribute more effectively to the company's mission at the executive level"

Also, be careful if these mentorships are personal, esp if it is between individuals who may be attracted to each other, or one attracted to another.

Hillview
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Hillview » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:03 pm

My best interactions with mentees is when they come with some general topics of interest and then some specific questions (which of these 2 projects sound like a better opportunity? how do I ask my boss for a promotion/am I ready for a promotion?)

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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Fallible » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:12 pm

Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports. Few weeks back I met a manager from a sister department who is 3 levels higher then me in a team building event and we had a good talk. The very next day he offered to have a monthly 1 on 1 'mentoring /coaching / career development' meeting. Of course I accepted that but I'm very confused - what topics to discuss and what to avoid, unspoken rules etc :confused
Not knowing you or your mentor, I'll just offer a link to a NYT article that may be helpful:

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/busi ... 2sbiz.html

My experience with mentors (two) in my career is that they can offer guidance and perhaps open doors when you're starting out and when you are seeking new challenges. After that, and as you're ready, you're back on your own, as I think it should be.
"John Bogle has changed a basic industry in the optimal direction. Of very few can this be said." ~Paul A. Samuelson

stlutz
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by stlutz » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:38 pm

Just don't get suckered into reading any books on risk management...

mottooscillator
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by mottooscillator » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:30 pm

Congratulations on securing a new mentor.

I have both mentored and been mentored for the past 4-5 years. What I can say is that the agenda for the meetings ought to be created and communicated by the mentee (you).

First, learn as much as you can about your mentor. That will give you some ideas of questions to ask. Find out how they arrived at Megacorp, how they have advanced, what their goals are, and who they trust. Do this without asking them to the extent possible. Then ask follow up questions showing you've thought about the topic and respected their time.

You will learn more about them and that learning will help frame new questions.

Example question: what's a relevant topic of discussion at your staff meeting that I otherwise wouldn't have any insight into?

msk
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by msk » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:12 am

Pomegranate wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:06 pm
I work in a Megacorp as lowest level manager with few direct reports.
So you do have direct reports, even if few? YOU are their mentor! Do unto others as you wish done unto you.

gtd98765
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by gtd98765 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:59 am

If you have any challenges, even minor ones, with your direct reports, that is a good thing to discuss with your mentor. E.g., one of my team members does not prioritize tasks the way I want. Have you had this problem? How did you solve it and help the employee grow?

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galving
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by galving » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:56 am

Agree with several other posters . . . Listen.
Your new mentor literally has years of experience that they can share.

Ask your mentor open ended questions
Why did you join the company?
How did you get into X field? How can I be a better leader? How did you overcome adversity?
What makes you successful?

As you build trust, you can even ask your mentor for feedback. Its an additional perspective, and a new area where you can learn.

You get what you put in to the mentoring partnership.
I've had several mentees that were low energy and looked at meetings as an additional chore. Not surprisingly things just didn't 'click'.
I've had others where the mentee laid out their 5 step plan to be CEO. . . (Here I only slightly exaggerate.)
Finding a balance and cadence is important.

As a mentor, I seek to develop talent across the organization, perhaps only even if I shorten someone's learning curve. . . then I've made a difference.
Good luck!

dekecarver
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by dekecarver » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:59 am

Mentoring is not for badmouthing etc.. Keep the discussion on business with a focus on how you can improve, bounce ideas for validation (going down the right track, how to think through or take into consideration variables that may effect a plan of action, strategic issues..) and listen for words of wisdom, especially on navigating the political arena. And always be mindful of the nature of the relationship.

In my experience there is nothing more rewarding than mentoring someone and seeing them achieve their goals.

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Pomegranate
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Re: Mentoring in the office - what to expect?

Post by Pomegranate » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:44 pm

TallBoy29er wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:47 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:02 am
General rule: Listen. Don't talk. It will be obvious when you have to talk and if it's not, just don't.
I would expect it to be a "get to know you" session.
Well, the first session was really weird - he simply referred me to few of his peers who are hiring for their teams at the moment. Not smth I was expecting but will try to drive the next meeting :D

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