The Art of Becoming a Better Mentor and Mentee - Pragmatic Techniques
Part of workshop on mentoring lead by Donna Dean, executive consultant for Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and retired senior federal executive for the National Institutes of Health, and Cynthia Simpson, the chief business development officer for AWIS. The workshop was tailored to a community of both women and men and faculty, staff and students.
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[00:00:01.055]All right, thank you very much, Donna.
[00:00:02.867]We're gonna talk now in this last section here
[00:00:04.942]about pragmatic techniques, and we'll be discussing also
[00:00:08.031]the differences between
[00:00:10.256]mentoring, coaching, sponsorship,
[00:00:12.006]and we'll touch upon the importance of networking.
[00:00:14.480]But to start,
[00:00:16.603]another interactive discussion.
[00:00:18.678]This relates back to your prior discussion
[00:00:21.592]where you were talking earlier
[00:00:23.582]when you came back from the break,
[00:00:25.507]thinking about what you talked about then,
[00:00:28.556]combining it with the question where do you think
[00:00:31.734]your past mentoring went off track,
[00:00:35.548]we'll then have a sharing of information,
[00:00:37.727]we'll capture your comments over there,
[00:00:40.131]and then continue to move on.
[00:00:41.281]So we'll give you a couple of minutes to discuss
[00:00:43.386]where do you think your past mentoring went off track?
[00:00:49.196]In the interest of time, I'm going to call,
[00:00:52.512]thinking back on your initial discussions
[00:00:54.544]when you first came back
[00:00:55.857]positive and negative aspects of mentoring,
[00:00:58.909]I'm sure that many of those discussion points
[00:01:03.201]came back in this conversation
[00:01:06.233]that you had relating to mentoring
[00:01:08.140]and where your mentoring relationship
[00:01:10.497]may have gone off track.
[00:01:12.687]So I'd like to just ask
[00:01:14.814]for you to share some of the comments that you talked about
[00:01:18.947]within your individual groups,
[00:01:21.025]and again, we'll capture this information,
[00:01:23.362]record it, and send it back.
[00:01:26.734]Where do you think your past mentoring went off track?
[00:01:33.406]And it could be a positive or a negative.
[00:01:36.351]Sometimes it can go off track for a good reason
[00:01:39.114]or there were some good outcomes.
[00:01:41.564]Oftentimes they're not, but,
[00:01:43.751]looking at it from both sides.
[00:01:46.348]In past relationships where they've gone off track.
[00:02:01.359]All right, so, unclear expectations,
[00:02:04.391]and that was because the mentee
[00:02:06.349]didn't communicate those back, or?
[00:02:12.581]All right, so it was that sending and receiving
[00:02:14.822]that we talked about in communications.
[00:02:16.930]They thought you hear one thing, you heard something else.
[00:02:30.255]Ah, all right, so different expectations.
[00:02:33.576]And what was the outcome of that?
[00:02:35.172]Did you resolve that, or, what?
[00:02:50.106]Choosing a mentor, okay.
[00:02:51.976]Choosing a mentor is very, very important.
[00:03:18.684]yeah, we'll cover that.
[00:03:19.951]That's actually a point, choosing the right mentor.
[00:03:22.596]Correct, exactly, that's very, very critical.
[00:03:24.394]Which can be very independent from your dissertation
[00:03:28.065]or master supervisor, yes.
[00:03:32.341]Any other comments?
[00:03:46.678]A big left event can,
[00:03:49.322]whatever it might be, yes.
[00:03:51.633]On either side, yes.
[00:03:54.696]And we had a slide but we took it out.
[00:03:56.519]There are going to be times where
[00:03:58.877]you're gonna have to have more emphasis and focus
[00:04:00.821]put on the work side of your life,
[00:04:03.991]and other times, the personal side is going to take
[00:04:07.794]precedent for a number of reasons.
[00:04:10.584]So when we do our work life workshop,
[00:04:14.059]we don't call it work life balance
[00:04:15.616]because that implies everything is always equal.
[00:04:18.236]It's really work life integration
[00:04:20.958]and it's scales that go back and forth,
[00:04:23.214]they're never really in alignment.
[00:04:29.057]Think we can,
[00:04:31.736]I think you did a great job--
[00:04:33.009]They're not telling us the really good stuff
[00:04:34.647]about their mentoring efforts going off track,
[00:04:36.935]but you're thinking about it and that's okay.
[00:04:38.510]Because they have excellent mentoring.
[00:04:40.742]That's it, that's right, that's right.
[00:04:43.965]The dos and don'ts of mentoring.
[00:04:46.045]I think, certainly, as mentors,
[00:04:50.603]people that I've mentored over the years,
[00:04:52.841]there are times I wanna be like the little bird on the left
[00:04:56.638]and say you did what?
[00:05:01.623]That's what I wanna do inside with 'em.
[00:05:03.470]Or I can't believe you did that.
[00:05:05.856]But instead what I do is,
[00:05:09.102]and try to think of a better to way
[00:05:10.598]to work them through that.
[00:05:12.172]But I think the point is,
[00:05:14.647]A, as mentors, we should be listening
[00:05:17.172]half the time at least
[00:05:20.021]and hearing from our mentees,
[00:05:22.701]so we should probably in general speak less
[00:05:26.829]and listen more.
[00:05:32.320]and again, this is part of developing
[00:05:35.087]the mentoring relationship with someone is that,
[00:05:39.460]and I've discovered it in my relationships with people,
[00:05:43.219]my mentoring relationships, I like to talk,
[00:05:46.452]and I've learned if I just
[00:05:52.567]even if there is a little bit of uncomfortable pause,
[00:05:57.090]the mentee will go on to tell me something
[00:06:01.368]or to say something that is very critical
[00:06:04.110]to our mentoring relationship.
[00:06:05.760]Whereas if I just say, when I jump right in
[00:06:08.713]to try to draw out from them what I think
[00:06:10.938]they're trying to say.
[00:06:12.631]So I actually do keep, when I found this cat picture
[00:06:15.670]some years ago, that's actually the mental image in my mind.
[00:06:20.301]One of the things,
[00:06:22.003]we obviously wanna be ourselves thoughtfully.
[00:06:26.487]We don't wanna be,
[00:06:28.614]we wanna be genuine people.
[00:06:30.689]But I'm also smart enough not to let you see
[00:06:33.451]the hundred percent of me because it's very scary,
[00:06:36.888]of the person that I really am.
[00:06:38.897]But we wanna be ourselves thoughtfully.
[00:06:41.055]Because, you know, it's not appropriate
[00:06:42.917]for me to be the wild, wacky person that I can be
[00:06:45.746]in my home with my husband while I'm talking
[00:06:48.696]and he's not listening.
[00:06:51.372]One of the things we wanna, again, encourage our mentees
[00:06:55.841]is to be themselves, but be thoughtful about it.
[00:06:59.849]It can be as simple as how to appropriate attire
[00:07:03.655]when they're making a professional presentation,
[00:07:07.316]you know, all kinds of things.
[00:07:08.467]And yet, sort of have their own flair
[00:07:10.967]or their own style.
[00:07:13.426]It very much is relevant to social media.
[00:07:17.573]As it was said earlier in the session,
[00:07:21.881]times clearly are changing
[00:07:24.592]for those of us who actually did not grow up with computers,
[00:07:28.825]before the internet, before all of this.
[00:07:31.506]It is clear that there are more social morays,
[00:07:35.013]things are changing.
[00:07:37.747]But one of the things that I think, even now,
[00:07:39.919]that we owe to our mentees is that
[00:07:44.024]to make sure that, at least if they're on social media,
[00:07:50.140]that they're at least being thoughtful about
[00:07:52.444]what they're putting up there because some of that stuff
[00:07:54.929]can stay up there forever,
[00:07:57.977]and that there are ways, that if they're on LinkedIn
[00:08:00.981]and using the more professional websites,
[00:08:04.960]not to put social stuff on that.
[00:08:08.391]Again, I think we are in a transition.
[00:08:11.561]We clearly are in a transition
[00:08:14.485]while this is about media.
[00:08:16.503]We are in a transition about what business attire is,
[00:08:20.938]even appropriate business attire.
[00:08:24.555]I could probably get away with wearing this
[00:08:26.811]even in my old job because this would be
[00:08:28.757]appropriate business attire.
[00:08:31.214]Whereas in the old days, it had to be
[00:08:33.858]the skirt suit with the blouse with the little bow
[00:08:37.215]and the basic pumps.
[00:08:38.866]So there are things that are appropriate.
[00:08:40.794]So things are changing.
[00:08:43.147]I don't know how you get to the point
[00:08:45.205]of when they're too much,
[00:08:46.249]but just recognizing that we are,
[00:08:48.783]particularly as it relates to media and how people
[00:08:50.818]communicate and how people find jobs and interact.
[00:08:54.753]It is changing.
[00:08:57.488]We wanna help our mentees not put,
[00:09:00.839]help them deal when they put people
[00:09:02.366]in embarrassing situations or awkward situations,
[00:09:05.298]or forget to tell someone something
[00:09:08.258]and something really bad goes wrong,
[00:09:11.916]we wanna help them deal with those,
[00:09:14.044]hopefully by giving some anecdotes
[00:09:16.227]from our own experience of where maybe
[00:09:18.149]we didn't handle it very well.
[00:09:22.461]just teaching our mentees
[00:09:24.263]that sometimes if you put people in embarrassing positions,
[00:09:27.729]sometimes just a simple I'm sorry,
[00:09:29.917]I didn't mean for that to happen.
[00:09:32.589]I'm sorry, Cindy, I didn't mean to put you on the spot
[00:09:35.261]in yesterday's workshop by calling you out about that.
[00:09:38.861]Which I didn't parenthetically.
[00:09:40.882]But just a simple, I'm sorry, it won't happen again,
[00:09:44.878]and sometimes, again, it can become a learning experience.
[00:09:47.867]But that's how we want
[00:09:49.575]to share our people.
[00:09:54.271](exhales) Having an appropriate sense humor.
[00:09:56.304]I alluded earlier that it used to be a number of years ago
[00:09:59.370]much, much more appropriate,
[00:10:02.413]it seemed to be much more appropriate
[00:10:04.036]to have all kinds of jokes which were terrible.
[00:10:06.368]I don't wanna tell you about all the jokes
[00:10:08.860]that I actually saw in the context of honorific lectures
[00:10:12.912]at professional meetings that poked fun at women.
[00:10:19.100]Now, if a person dared to get up and do that,
[00:10:21.617]they would probably be fired from their university job
[00:10:24.981]for doing that.
[00:10:26.510]And certainly their industry job,
[00:10:27.892]they would be fired immediately.
[00:10:33.211]Senses of humor that are not appropriate,
[00:10:36.500]helping our people understand, our mentees,
[00:10:39.306]where appropriate senses of humor, how to deploy the humor.
[00:10:43.491]I'm one of those people that cannot be deliberately funny.
[00:10:47.043]I cannot plan to be funny, I've tried it,
[00:10:49.996]it doesn't work.
[00:10:51.757]I cannot be funny
[00:10:54.580]with a joke I already, first of all, I can't remember jokes.
[00:10:57.622]I remember either the punchline or the joke.
[00:11:00.612]That's not good.
[00:11:03.156]But I cannot do it in the context of a speech.
[00:11:06.786]I don't even try it.
[00:11:08.497]I am unintentionally funny, I don't intend to be funny,
[00:11:12.722]and I just tend to be.
[00:11:16.287]I'm not planning to, but again,
[00:11:17.983]it's helping people understand.
[00:11:19.658]But then there is another facet of the humor
[00:11:23.289]of having a sense a humor
[00:11:24.747]is sometimes when really bad things happen,
[00:11:27.280]I mean, not life-threatening, horrible,
[00:11:30.234]loss of family members, and things like that,
[00:11:32.756]but, you know, experiments blow up or stuff.
[00:11:35.283]I learned early on as a woman, the last thing
[00:11:37.980]I shoulda been doing was standing in the lab and crying
[00:11:41.605]because that was so gender specific.
[00:11:46.053]So I just kinda learned, like if the experiment
[00:11:48.169]totally blew up or the centrifuge head exploded,
[00:11:51.131]or things that happened that were beyond my control,
[00:11:55.208]that I just kinda laughed about it
[00:11:56.688]and tried to make a joke about it.
[00:11:58.493]And then made amends if I had to,
[00:12:00.176]if there was something I needed to do.
[00:12:02.877]And I'm still that way about a lot of stuff.
[00:12:05.797]If I can find the humor in it, then I can
[00:12:08.941]get through the moment.
[00:12:11.873]But again, helping people understand humor
[00:12:15.439]and when it's appropriate and not appropriate.
[00:12:19.423]Really important message, obviously,
[00:12:22.391]we all, we know this,
[00:12:23.726]that any of your actions, they always have consequences.
[00:12:26.659]Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad,
[00:12:28.724]sometimes they're unexpected.
[00:12:31.945]The message here is to teach our mentees,
[00:12:35.170]and ourselves, that when we screw up with something,
[00:12:38.661]when we do something that is not a good thing,
[00:12:41.385]to attempt to rectify it as quick as we can
[00:12:44.038]rather than trying to ignore something
[00:12:47.298]that's going off track.
[00:12:49.254]Because here, if we ignored this too long,
[00:12:51.921]this concrete's gonna set and then it's gonna be
[00:12:54.171]a real problem getting that little vehicle out.
[00:12:57.729]Whereas if we get it out and back it out,
[00:13:00.034]we can pretty much smooth over the concrete
[00:13:02.025]and it should be,
[00:13:03.282]civil engineers love this slide,
[00:13:05.933]because then they wanna tell you all the stories
[00:13:07.911]that relate to their engineering experiences
[00:13:11.178]where they have mentored people
[00:13:12.608]and they've had to teach them.
[00:13:14.153]But it also is relevant, not just in concrete things,
[00:13:18.106]oh, I wasn't,
[00:13:20.968](laughing) I wasn't,
[00:13:23.027]see, I'm unintentionally funny.
[00:13:24.820]I wasn't planning that.
[00:13:29.643]Not just tangible things that happen.
[00:13:33.024]But sometimes it can be intangible
[00:13:35.422]when we are mentoring someone
[00:13:38.345]and we see that maybe something is beginning
[00:13:41.978]to happen with that mentee or that mentee
[00:13:44.379]is beginning to show some bad practices
[00:13:47.823]or bad behaviors or bad attitudes.
[00:13:50.996]Sometimes it doesn't work.
[00:13:52.264]Well maybe this'll take care of itself in time.
[00:13:55.581]You know, it means do the intervention
[00:13:58.326]sooner rather than later.
[00:14:00.330]Cindy alluded to unwritten inside rules.
[00:14:02.668]Every place has unwritten inside rules.
[00:14:06.122]Most of them are pretty reasonly benign,
[00:14:09.503]some of them are rather humorous if you know about them.
[00:14:12.649]But, it's something that's very important
[00:14:15.604]that you know about, and sort of clue people in on.
[00:14:19.162]She stole my thunder in talking about my coffee analogy.
[00:14:23.000]But again, it just helps make the workplace go smoother
[00:14:27.609]and it's sort of like tips, et cetera.
[00:14:31.322]Tips, there I go again with trucks tipping.
[00:14:35.821]So, if we're mentors, we can't be miracle workers,
[00:14:38.954]our mentees shouldn't expect us to be miracle workers.
[00:14:42.502]One of the things that we think have to be very clear
[00:14:45.396]with our mentees, particularly if we expect them
[00:14:48.131]to follow through and close the loop.
[00:14:50.269]So if I tell one of my mentees,
[00:14:53.535]well get back to me,
[00:14:55.327]I still mentor some people on some stuff,
[00:14:57.917]not necessarily really frequently,
[00:15:00.759]but I will tell them, well,
[00:15:03.358]some of my former mentees, I tell them,
[00:15:06.024]well send me an email once or twice a year
[00:15:08.349]to let me know how you're doing.
[00:15:10.672]And that, to me, is closing the loop.
[00:15:12.515]I still wanna kinda have a hand,
[00:15:14.407]of course, if you need me, I'm available,
[00:15:16.571]but close the loop, get back to me,
[00:15:19.302]I've mentored you to have that conversation
[00:15:21.561]with your TA that's causing you trouble.
[00:15:25.022]Get back to me and let me know how it's working
[00:15:28.047]after a few more lab sessions
[00:15:29.803]when you've tried the new strategy.
[00:15:31.392]So mentees have the responsibility to get back
[00:15:34.220]and tell us if we ask them to.
[00:15:37.407]Sometimes as a mentor, we just kinda have to
[00:15:40.999]sometimes calm things down.
[00:15:42.640]Sometimes our mentees may be really, really upset
[00:15:45.510]about stuff, and sometimes we just have to let them vent,
[00:15:52.385]and hold it in confidence.
[00:15:54.877]You know, in most cases, it's things
[00:15:56.789]that we want to hold in confidence.
[00:16:01.504]Okay, you've heard these before,
[00:16:04.304]some of the same words, strengths, weaknesses,
[00:16:09.481]Important point, one mentor cannot meet
[00:16:12.220]all of any one person's need.
[00:16:15.095]You sort of need a board of directors of mentors,
[00:16:17.547]and if you're a mentor, you're not the end all
[00:16:19.628]and be all for your mentee.
[00:16:21.940]Your mentee may want you to assist him or her
[00:16:24.926]in finding other mentors,
[00:16:27.176]or they may just wanna do it on their own.
[00:16:30.589]They may wanna be finding other mentors
[00:16:32.720]to remedy the deficiencies that you have
[00:16:35.834]that they can't get from you.
[00:16:38.731]But no one person can do that for everybody.
[00:16:43.166]Cindy will have a few words about networking.
[00:16:46.835]Well, more than a few words.
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