News Features Push n' Pull Company Blog When Mentoring Goes BAD
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Most young managers view having a mentor as their ticket to the big leagues—to greater visibility, exciting assignments and big promotions. Benefits flow to mentors as well, as they enjoy broader influence when their young protégés rise to stardom.
And it's all true. Except when it isn't. Except when mentoring goes bad.
And it does go bad—in all sorts of ways and sometimes spectacularly. At one end of the spectrum are relationships that fizzle out for benign reasons, such as the pressures of daily work and personal lives, conflicting goals or a lack of shared values. But relationships also fail for not-so-benign reasons: manipulation, deceit and harassment, to name a few. Either party can be the cause—and the career trajectories of both may never be the same afterwards.
To be clear, mentoring can be invaluable, not only to protégés and mentors, but also to organizations. It is important, however, to manage the relationships appropriately and be aware of early signs of potential problems.
Here is a look at some of the ways mentoring relationships go awry, followed by advice on how mentors, protégés and companies can spot warning signs sooner and create more positive experiences.
How Mentoring Relationships Go Wrong:
Oil and Water: Most valuable experiences in mentoring feature trust, rapport and a general affinity between the two parties. Research has shown that the more the two have in common, especially in values and personalities, the more they will put into the relationship. Sometimes one sharp contrast can be the difference between harmony and friction. A mentor may have a habit of working long hours and weekends, for example, while the protégé prefers a 9-to-5 workday with weekends free. If neither side is willing to bend, the parties may find themselves unable to work together effectively.

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