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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mentoring VS Managing: Does It Have To Be One Or The Other?

I heard on a MSNBC news report recently that 85% of GenY interns expect to be mentored through their internship experience. And more than that, they expect that mentorship to be meaningful, engaging and beneficial to their future careers. The same report also indicated that what GenY's don't expect is to be managed.

Mentored, not managed.

To those of us who work with GenY's daily, this distinction is no surprise. The surprise is that there is now a real conversation taking place about these two very different approaches. So what is the difference between 'mentoring and managing?

According to Webster's Dictionary, to manage is 'to handle or direct with a degree of skill; to make and keep compliant; to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction.'  Adversely, to mentor is defined as 'to serve as a trusted counselor or guide; to provide expertise to less experienced individuals; to build a relationship based upon communication.' From the definitions it seems apparent that these two supervisory methodologies are polar opposites, mutually exclusive. But do they have to be? Is today's 'manager' in place to keep the staff compliant, on task, focused on the bottom line? Is it possible for a manager to also be a mentor?

Yes, it is not only possible, but for the success of most businesses today, especially those hiring in GenY's, it is imperative that leadership blend both supervisory strategies into their methodology.

How does one blend managing and mentoring? By implementing these ABC's:
  •  A = Assess proactively. Mentors plan strategically based upon an intern's (feel free to substitute employee's for intern) capabilities, strengths, and areas of growth. Being proactive reduces the standard reactive management technique of many managers. 
  • B = Build a 'developmental' relationship.  Dr. David Thomas of Harvard Business School coined this phrase bases it upon the experiences the intern has as he/she is engages in work. A developmental relationship relies on communication and engagement, and it thrives in a culture where experiential questioning is encouraged.
  • C = Collaborate and Listen. Vanilla Ice had the beat and this concept down. Mentoring must be a mixture of collaborative conversation and active listening, for the mentor and mentee alike.      Working together the manager and intern should work together to create a clear plan of action for the internship experience.
Incorporating these ABC's into a management strategy, will create a more meaningful experience for the intern and bring a greater sense of satisfaction and success to the mentor.


 

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