Article or Fable

Articles & Workplace Fables

The Mentoring Boss
‘I’m not sure I want or need a mentor,’ said the Graduate Trainee to the HR director.

‘I’m very clear on what I want to achieve,’ she explained confidently.

But the HR director was most insistent explaining there would be many twists and turns along her chosen path, that not everything would run to course and that some sound advice for someone who had been there before and could act as a sounding board would be helpful.

The Graduate Trainee reluctantly agreed and was paired with the CEO of a prestigious food business. She thought this was odd, as she didn’t work in the food industry and didn’t intend to. The plan was to meet three times a year.

At the first meeting having both talked for a while about their backgrounds and got to know each other a little better the CEO asked the Graduate Trainee what she wanted to achieve.

The Graduate set out her ambition to run the company she had joined.

‘That’s clear. How about your other objectives in life?’ he asked.

The Graduate paused and thought, ‘What do you mean?’ she queried.

‘What are your objectives for your personal life, relationships, family, hobbies, places to visit, things to learn, where you live, how you live?’ he enquired.

‘I don’t know I haven’t thought about it,’ said the puzzled graduate.

‘Then for the next time we meet I’d like you to write out fifty objectives for all the things you want to achieve.’ said the CEO.

The graduate agreed and they parted.

At their next meeting 4 months later the Graduate produced the objectives for her life list.

‘I could only think of 23,’ she said working her way down the list.

‘Most people only have that many,’ explained the CEO. ‘What you have done is to set out what your ultimate aspiration is. What you have not done yet is to set out what your objectives need to be to achieve your end goal.’

‘So if my aspiration is to be the boss of the company you want me to set out what my objectives need to be to get there?’ said the Graduate catching on.

The CEO nodded and explained how one objective built on the next and the next until you reached your end goal. These could be future qualifications you needed, or people you should meet, or skills worth acquiring. But these objectives at work were also tied to your wider objectives in life.

‘And I would formally review your objectives every three years. You see as you develop you might decide that one set of objectives take precedence over another. You might discover that more mid-term objectives are needed or some may change to get to your new end point.’

The Graduate had been listening carefully. ‘I see, so I build a path to an end point which has fixed points along the way, but is flexible and can be changed based on my circumstances.’ That’s helpful.

Having a grand plan is great but understanding the steps to get there vital for success.