When Mentoring Doesn’t Work

“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,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“When mentoring goes well, it can be of great benefit to young managers. But when it goes wrong, it can have lasting negative effects for both mentors and their protégés.”

“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.”