Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Workplace Mentors From Hell

I've never had a discussion about mentoring without someone offering a story about the mentor from hell. Stories of micromanagement, hostility, uninvolvment or just plain weirdness are some of the tales of woe from the mentees.

The most difficult situation is when the mentee can't find a way to put an end to the relationship. Finding a way to be diplomatic and not totally sabatoging a career while ditching a mentor at the first opportunity can be tough. Most mentees don't want to be disrespectful or unprofessional, but sometimes horrible mentors can push them to extreme measures.

I've written before about finding a mentor and making sure you both get something out of the deal, but is there a way to spot potential "bad" mentors before you enter into the relationship? Is there a way to check out the credentials of a potential mentor before you make the commitment? And, if you do find yourself disliking your mentor, should you just give it more time or get out as soon as possible?


3 comments: said...

Hi Anita,

Thanks for the post. You've hit on an often overlooked but ubiquitous problem.

I always encourage people to step back (beyond their hope of finding a fast track) and look at the potential mentor's personality and character. Look past the words to see the actions. Check out character as well as personality. For example, observe and ask: How do they treat people they work with? How do they treat people they supervise? Do you click or resonate? Are they open and coaching or dogmatic bullies? Are their work teams loaded with tension, hostility and abuse? Do they take over people's lives?

If you get the mentor from hell, bring up the first situation. That's a test. If you get attacked, get out as gracefully as possible. Make up excuses. Don't gossip or complain, even to your best friends. The word will get out and the mentor will retaliate.

Good luck.

Anita said...

Great advice. And, I think you're very smart to suggest not gossiping about the mentor if you do end the relationship.
Thanks for adding your comments. said...

Hi Anita,

You're welcome.

I look forward to talking more about bullies at work.

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Best wishes,