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[PART 5] Developing a People Engagement Lens: Managing Expectations

In a previous post, I wrote about how there is work that needs to be done to help individuals make the most of their membership in an organization they are actively (or not so actively) involved in. I also touched on how it is not uncommon for many to assume that someone else will do this work (especially when membership fees are involved). This, in addition to complex professional and relational dynamics, can lead to some alarming and disillusioning outcomes.

As it relates to mentorship relationships, almost everyone is seeking to be mentored (or lean on the strength of others) in SOME way. As a result, it is very important to manage expectations and competing interests with transparency and integrity. Not everyone gets this right though... So, I've outlined the process I go through for thinking through mentorship (and similar) relationships.

Expectation Management in Mentorship Relationships

  • Healthy mentorship (for professionals at any stage) encompasses being willing (i.e., having the capacity) to teach/share and/or learn specific skills or life experiences from a specific individual or group of people. The willingness to teach and learn is key.
  • Feedback loops are included (and accessed) in mentorship relationships to prevent them from becoming predatory or exploitative. Feedback loops also help ensure that the agreed-upon skill or experience is actually being taught/shared.
  • Being open to mentoring others does not automatically mean that those learning from you want to be exactly like you (i.e., view you as a role model/exemplar). Simultaneously, those who are open to learning from others are generally free to take or leave advice that may not apply to them or their journey.
  • It is important for mentoring programs to clarify whether the two parties (i.e., those who are open to teaching/sharing and those who are open to learning from others) have a general mentorship relationship or a role model/exemplar relationship. These relationships come with a different set of expectations that both parties need to be aware of for there to be mutually beneficial and transparent outcomes.

-Dr. S Anyatonwu