One of my mentors and I decided to end our previously successful 12-year relationship. This was a very sad event for me, personally and professionally. We had some good years, but things sometimes go south, so today I am sharing how you can identify when things start to go bad and why you should leave.
Both parties can benefit and grow from a good mentor relationship. If you’re seeking a mentor in your career, vet the people you have an eye on to fill that need – in most cases, you have a rapport with them, but I would not pick a friend.
You want to find someone who has successfully worked within our industry and helped others achieve their best selves. I think the best mentors will impart wisdom and then hold back while their mentees discover their methods of performing on their ideas. They are advisors who offer a listening ear but never meddle.
Don’t limit yourself to one mentor. Seek out several people with different backgrounds. Remember, you’re not looking for a blueprint on what to do in your professional journey. This is your journey, and you are gathering information from those who have experiences that you can then take control of your career with confidence. Generally, mentors have more to lose since they’re in positions of power, and any “misbehavior” on the mentee can be a strike against the leadership or even a complete disregard for advice.
As mentees, we look to our mentors for guidance, best practices, achieving goals, and advice on how to handle situations and scenarios. Will they have all the answers? Maybe not, but it’s incredible what magic you can develop together.
The role of a mentor is to guide and teach, but sometimes ego gets in the way, and the position can abuse power. The mentorship can become toxic and counterproductive for both parties. Toxic mentors look at mentoring as an opportunity to exert control rather than an opportunity to teach and influence. At no time should a mentee feel wrong about their experiences, nor wanting to explore possibilities. It is essential to know what signs to look for to avoid getting entangled in a toxic and manipulation mentorship;
Me, Me Me all about me. A mentor who focuses solely on their accomplishments to a mentee is not in the right mindset to guide anyone. Mentoring is about helping individuals in their careers, life, etc., using their experiences to help those seeking guidance. It isn’t easy to offer advice when they only think about themselves.
Lack of inspiration. A mentor should celebrate your accomplishments. This lack of support is disappointing and can also leave you feeling discouraged, possibly shutting down and not seeking further help.
Failure to connect. I understand we all get busy, but if you have issues connecting on a regular basis, this could indicate a problem. You don’t want to keep counting on someone who is not available to help. If that happens, end it, it’s best for both individuals. If they ask, then be honest, but let it go.
Listening is a critical skill in being a great mentor. Mentors don’t have to dominate your conversation. Work on setting up a plan within your meetings, including time and space for both mentee and mentor. Be wary of mentors who dominate the conversation
No boundaries. Trust me, relationships need boundaries, and mentorship is no different. Have a set of goals you want to achieve and stick to working toward those goals.
Beware of gossips. Some people like to demonstrate how important they are by name-dropping, talk negatively about others in the industry to make them look better. When a mentor shares too much about others, they know they will also gossip about you, With the recent experience I have had, you don’t need that. Consider them gone and move on.
I have had some past mentors provide lousy advice, and I have asked for clarity and get attitude. Check out Business Insider’s, “3 Signs Your Mentor Could Be Giving You Bad Advice.” Anyone can have an off day, but if your mentor regularly offers you lousy advice, consider cutting the cord.
I know it is complex and intimidating to find a mentor, interview a mentor, and even approach a possible mentor; I know it took a while to understand the importance of being mentored. I am proud to be a mentor, and I strive to be the best possible resource for those who seek it. I am sad that I lost one of my mentors after 12 years, but it was time to cut the cord.