Re: Managers as mentors

Subject: Re: Managers as mentors
From: George Allaman <gallama -at- LOOKOUT -dot- ECTE -dot- USWC -dot- USWEST -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 1996 11:47:44 -0700

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, John P. Brinegar wrote:

> George Allaman wrote:

> >Oof. I disagree with one thing. I don't think managers should ever fancy
> >themselves mentors. Since the manager's job is to judge the employee and
> >their work, a healthy mentoring relationship is impossible. For instance:
> >I'm much less likely to display my ignorance if it might affect my chances
> >for a raise or promotion. But it needs to be displayed so that I can learn.

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, John P. Brinegar responded

> Gee

> I just don't see a manager's job a judge of employees and their work. When
> I was a manager (a long time ago), I saw my role as that of developing a
> team that consisted of myself and those who reported to me. We tried to
> work together to accomplish common goals and in the process to grow and
> learn. In my judgment, we succeeded quite well. I believe that most of the
> former members of this team would agree (if any of you see this, please
> comment, personally or on the list).

> I never saw myself as a judge of others on the team. I didn't even see
> myself as being superior to others on the team. To the extent that they
> succeeded, I succeeded. Individual performance evaluations were a joint
> effort-this was a significant part of the mentoring process.

John -

You display an exemplary management attitude, and I have the feeling that
you did sincerely and successfully place yourself at a level with your
managees. I call this an unusual success story. However, I still feel that
mentoring is best done by a peer who is not ostensibly involved in the
performance evaluation.

Did you have any performance problems with your employees? If you had, I
think you would have found it difficult to combine the roles of benevolent
mentor and impartial manager. I, too, have managed people, but not in
technical writing. A certain amount of distance between the manager and
the managee - not much - I find more effective in maintaining mutual
respect and and good communication. The two roles must always be
encouraged to turn their best face to each other, rather than "let it all
hang out" as peers might do.

|George Allaman | |
|Tech Writer | <clever, meaningful |
|Denver, Colorado | quip which somehow |
|Office (303) 624-1619 | summarizes my life |
|Home (303) 771-8060 | philosophy> |
|Alternate: georgea -at- csn -dot- net | |

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