Tag Archives: mentoring

The Final Round

So I am beginning the final month with EQmentor. My mentor and I have both been so busy the past few weeks it’s been hard to stay on top of things.

I will say that I appreciate the fact that my mentor treats me as an adult and not a student and realizes that I have a job and responsibilities. My mentor never overloads me with busy work. Every assignment I’ve received is more of a suggestion and has been completely relevant to what is going on in my work or personal life.

There is a plethora of resources on the EQmentor Web site once you are logged in. There are worksheets for each EQ area that you can work through on your own or with your mentor. The worksheets are indexed by title and by EQ area so you can easily find ones that relate to the area you want to improve.

As I’ve said before though, the most useful thing for me has been having a mentor who works in the position I was promoted to at the beginning of my EQmentor journey. Most of our discussions have gone beyond what is contained on the worksheets and are more directly related to my job.

This last month with consist of a lot of wrap up and planning for the future beyond my time with my mentor when I am on my own.

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What is a mentor?

One of the interesting things about going through the EQmentor program is that I am seeing mentors everywhere now and often in unexpected ways and places.

I have quite a few informal mentors. Each of these people has different skills, knowledge, and abilities. The key is knowing who to go to and when.

For instance I have one friend/colleague who I can go to any time I have a problem where I’m just not sure what to do and where to start from. Another friend/colleague is always there when I need someone to vent to or just to listen. Yet another friend/colleague is well versed in how to get people to say yes.

Notice I refer to each of these people as friends as well as colleagues. This wasn’t always the case. I have been burned in the past by friends on the job, but I have found through our professional/work/mentoring relationship a friendship has developed. I’ve come to realize that this is not a bad thing. We spend nearly 1/3 of our lives at work so doesn’t it make sense to carefully establish some friendships.

Ironically I bet none of these people realizes that they are acting in a mentoring capacity. In fact if you look at the traditional mentoring definition these relationships may not even qualify.

Dictionary.com defines a mentor as:

  1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
  2. an influential senior sponsor or supporter

EQmentor is redefining mentoring as a process and not an outcome–“to get knowledge to those who need it so that they can make better decisions. With this definition, we should be open to multiple sources of knowledge.”

So who is your mentor? Where do you go to find out the things you need to know? Who or what is your source of information?

EQ Chat

One of the cool things offered by EQmentor is scheduled chat sessions. Again it is all anonymous, but the sessions are open to all mentors and mentees. The chats last an hour, take place in the evening, and are facilitated by a mentor (though other mentors join in). The topics vary but relate to EQ or business issues such as: communication skills, women as leaders, managing a multi-generational workforce, succession planning, innovation in organizations.

The sessions are always lively and it helps to be a fast typer and reader. It’s great to connect with a group of people all at the same time going through the same experience and discuss relevant topics. Each person brings his or her own ideas and experiences to the session so there is always a lot to learn.

The facilitating mentors do a good job of keeping everyone on topic and really questioning you so that you think deeper. For instance during a session about innovation I went in thinking that I am already an expert at that. But the facilitator saw that and pushed me to think and analyze a little further.

What others are seeing in me

There is a person I work with I’ll call Anne. We started at our organization at close to the same time. I’ve always admired her presence–the way she carries herself, her appearance, her professionalism. Seriously she could be the next CEO. Since we’ve both been at the same organization for a few years, I’ve had a chance to watch her transform into this executive power woman that she’s slowly become. Her efforts have paid off for her too as she has already risen to an upper management level position.

It was really fascinating to watch. She’s one of the few people I try to emulate. We’ve also become friends so we talk regularly. She is one of the few people at work who know about my anonymous mentoring.

With that said imagine my surprise when she told me earlier this week that she’s noticed a difference in me over the last few months. Knowing that the readers of this blog would love to hear more I pressed her for specifics.

I’m sure she will correct me if I get this wrong. 😉 But she told me that I seem more confident, more capable, and appear ready to advance to the next level. The funny thing is I’m still the same person I was a few months ago, I’m just behaving differently.

I had a discussion with some other EQmentor folks during a chat session about my issues with self-regulation. The question that came up is what have I done to improve that area. To be honest I have not specifically done anything yet. But just by being aware that self-regulation is my weak area I am more aware of that in my day-to-day life. My mother used to always tell me to think before I speak. We seem to never listen to our mothers, but I have listened to my mentor who has given me the same advice.

I have another friend who told me that he has also noticed a change in me. It’s such a great affirmation to get this kind of feedback from friends. I hope if they read this post that they will add their own comments!

Month 1 Wrap Up

So I started my EQmentoring journey a little over a month ago. Seems like now is a good time for a wrap up and check in.

Wow I cannot believe the difference a month has made. A month ago I was whining about my situation at work, complaining about things I can’t change, and feeling very helpless about work in general.

In this past month I have discovered my EQ strengths and weaknesses, learned some basics about EQ, and discovered that I am a procrastinator.

I think the hardest part of this is discovering things about yourself that you did not know. But once you tell yourself, “hey it’s ok I’m going to work on this,” then you discover this inner peace that you never knew you had. So even if you are not perfect (heck who is) you start to accept yourself which then gives you the confidence and spirit to work on areas that you need to work on.

One month ago I identified self-regulation and emotionalism as areas of my EQ to work on. Interestingly enough, my mentor and I talked very little about these areas but I still noticed improvement. Just by being aware that these are my weak areas I was able to constantly keep check of my emotions and reactions to situations.

So what did my mentor and I work on? We had several exchanges initially just to get to know each other. Then we spent some time working on my personal mission statement, career goals, and goals for our 6 month journey. I also had several “issues” at work where I was not sure what to do. Each time I posted a message to my mentor and received a reply with advice. There is an option to mark a post as urgent which lets your mentor know that you need a quick response. This in itself has been a lifesaver and a great learning experience. Hopefully I will learn from these exchanges so that the next time I encounter “issues” like these I will know how to react on my own.

It’s funny, when you go to school you learn how to do calculus, geometry, dissect pigs, but no one ever teaches you how to respond properly to a situation or policy that you don’t agree with or tells you how to get along with a difficult person. I have yet to use calculus, geometry, or pig anatomy outside of school, but EQ is something I use every hour!

Why anonymity?

I have a few very, close friends who I’ve shared this blog with. The one question they’ve all asked is, “Why am I blogging anonymously.” As my one friend T said, “Web 2.0 is all about transparency and open collaboration. Why would anyone want to hide?”

I’m here to answer that question.

The EQmentor program has anonymity as one of its foundations. The picture below shows you the honor code that must be agreed to each time you log in to the site. (Hint: You can click on the picture to see a larger version of it.)

When I created my account I completed a detailed profile and questionnaire so that I could be matched with an appropriate mentor. Once matched we began communicating with literally a clean slate. We are each assigned a unique ID number and address each other as Dear Mentee and Dear Mentor.

The benefit of a clean slate? There is no bias. My mentor does not know my name, age, sex, race, or place of employment. Nor do I know that information about my mentor. (Though I will confess that it’s fun to guess.)

There is no fear that my mentor will someday interview me for a job or be my boss. (If it happens we would never know.) There is no fear that my mentor may share a company secret with someone else who leaks the secret and gets me fired. There is not fear that my mentor will call my boss and say something that will get me fired. There is no fear that what I say could keep me from being promoted.

Safety.

The key benefit of an anonymous mentor/mentee relationship is a safe environment. I truly have the freedom to ask and say anything. And that is a wonderful, freeing feeling.

So now that I’ve explained why the mentoring process is anonymous, I’ll cover why I’m blogging anonymously.

Blogging anonymously allows me to share my experience with you while upholding the confidentiality of the mentor-mentee relationship I have with my mentor. If my mentor happens upon this site it will not take him or her long to recognize my writing. If I were to disclose my name or personal information it would violate the confidentiality agreement that EQmentor has and put my mentor and me in an awkward position.

I hope this post sheds some light on the anonymity. Feel free to ask questions via comments or just say hello.