Interpersonal Edge: Learn to discern whom to mentor
Sunday, February 22, 2015

 By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency

Q. I've managed employees at organization for 20 years and consider myself an exceptional mentor. What I find frustrating is how often my employees both don't appreciate my help and don't use what I have to offer. Can you explain why people are often so stubbornly self-destructive at work and resent genuinely good advice?

  A. Get over the idea that, just because your advice is true and useful, all your employees will enthusiastically embrace it. Sages for centuries have been attempting to slow down the self-destructive tendencies of our species, with very limited success.

  Wise (or exhausted and irritated) managers get to a point where they evaluate the receptivity of an individual before attempting to mentor them. You just can't plant a good crop of progress in the rock-filled mind of an employee. You are better off letting stubborn employees run into these same rocks, get bruises and then offering some ideas.

  We all are enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks but few of us earn degrees. The reason many don't seem to graduate is that they keep making the same mistakes without any apparent educational value.


  Your willingness and generosity in mentoring employees is admirable. But when you throw your valuable time and energy at employees who cannot absorb what you are saying, nothing good happens.

  Part of the opportunity you have as a mentor in your organization is to be an excellent model to younger employees. One of the best ways you can accomplish that goal is to demonstrate how to be effective and take care of yourself on the job. Neither goal gets accomplished when you foist your mentoring on unreceptive employees.


  The longer I've worked in my field as an executive coach and mental health counselor, the more I've learned that my best work comes when I open doors for myself and walk through those same doors that benefit me. Smart and motivated people will stick their foot in that same door and walk through with me.


  When I become a professional doorman, holding the doors open and waiting, and waiting, and waiting while others dither around outside the door, nobody benefits. As a mentor, you will do your best work if you learn to discern who is eager to learn and who needs more time staring at closed doors.

  The last word(s) 

  Q. I'm starting to notice that the more badly behaved and wrong someone is at work, the louder and meaner they tend to be. I would think people who know they are in the wrong would be meeker. Is there some correlation between people who screw up and their general volume at work? 

  A. Yes, the emptier a person is of integrity, empathy and consciousness, the fuller he or she will generally be of him or herself. 

    Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.Sorry, no personal replies.

This column was printed in the February 22, 2015 - March 7, 2015 edition.


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