Last week, I wrote about something that I thought was obvious and known. Come to find out, it was a surprise to some of you and caused some confusion. My assumption was that everyone understood that there are always mixed motives in any decision and action. There is always a self-centric motive and usually another one that may be more altruistic. Sometimes there may be more than two.
With this realization, I pointed out last week that supervisor/mentors and their proteges have to be aware of the balancing act that is occurring. It’s challenging, given the varied interests of each party. It’s especially difficult in small firms and offices where there are no other options than for supervisors to mentor those they supervise. So here are some thoughts for you to consider.
1. Always be aware that there are competing interests. That alone will help you understand, negotiate and communicate with each other.
2. Identify how assignments and projects are career-building, not just tasks to be completed.
3. Work together to find ways of extending one’s role and function in engagements. Help each other accomplish both goals of getting work done AND career progress.
4. Make debriefing an integral part of engagements. Otherwise, it’s too easy to just move from one project to the next, falling into the loop of task performance rather than career learning.
You both have the responsibility for watching out for your own interests AND are obligated to look out for the interests of the other. Call it win-win, cooperative effort or whatever; just find ways of making it work—for both of you.
In the end, it’s a give and take. Sometimes you have to yield your objectives for the benefit of the other. That’s not a bad thing and not to be stymied by.
So that’s the reality; that’s the message.