Sidestepping the Mentor

Posted November 11, 2006 by

QUESTION:
I’ve been assigned a mentor and coach for my internship as well as my real job search. While this person is very talented and knowledgeable because of their vast amount of experience, I simply do not like them. As a consequence, I do spiteful things like pretending to have been working on a work assignment in order to have an excuse for not following the coach’s advice. In the alternative, I simply ignore what they’ve told me. The other thing I do is talk to them about coaching I’ve received from other people and how well the other advice proved to be.

Should I just tell them that I have no respect for them and that it’s best that we part ways?


ANSWER:
Your message goes into a lot more detail and explanation. I’ve summarized the essentials of what you shared for the sake of space and to make the content as cogent as possible.

It sounds as though you’ve not allowed yourself to become part of the process that’s been implemented to help you get to your goal. In fact from the things you outlined, you’re fighting and destroying.

Mentors and coaches have a dual purpose in working with their students. To be sure, there is personal gratification in helping someone see things in a new light and do well because of the coaching. It’s proof that the coach has done their job. But a good coach has a certain amount of investment in their student. They care about the trials, turmoils, victories, and setbacks. Many of the things you admit to doing to your coach are, quite candidly, very vicious and unnecessary. The one who is being harmed most from these tactics is you because you are not gaining the full benefit of the coaching that is being offered. An astute coach/mentor probably became aware of what was happening long ago but continued to provide support and advice in the hope that some of it would be received and lead to some successes.

From the perspective that you’ve not really allowed yourself and your coach a fair opportunity to develop a meaningful and fulfilling relationship, I would say you need to change your attitude and stick with this relationship for a while longer.

Given that you’ve not done any of the things that your coach has counseled and that you admit to having been extremely and openly rude, it would be good to cut your losses. This person’s time has value and you’re wasting both their time as well as yours. If you believe you can stop seeing the anecdotes as self laudatory and more as examples from which you can grow, and if you believe you can become the professional you say you aspire to become, perhaps a fresh start with another coach would be a good idea. But you should not repeat history by treating the new coach with the same distain should they tell you something that doesn’t set well with you.

No matter which way you go in this situation, I would also say you definitely owe this person an apology.

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