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Seb Anthony

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I think I need a Mentor


There is a lot of fire fighting going on in the company I work for and I often find myself getting frustrated with the quality of the decision making here. As a result I find that all the decisions and solutions I offer are getting 'questioned to death' as I can't offer an all singing and dancing solution immediately.
I am extremely confident in the decisions I make but all this questioning wears you down.
I'm looking for a mentor to help me 'sense check' and hopefully use their experience

Does anyone have any suggestions about how I should go about getting one?
Howard Pearson

6 Responses

  1. more questions
    Hi Howard
    Sorry but here are some more questions!
    ~do you want a Mentor, a coach or a kindred spirit who empathises with you?
    ~why not use TZ Any Answers as an “electric mentor”; several hundred heads may be better than one?
    ~if it wears you down, why aren’t you looking for a new job rather than a mentor?
    ~is it your job to have all the decisions and solutions?
    ~why don’t you give me a call?


  2. easy peasy – not
    I won’t answer a ? with a ?. Go and talk to someone you respect, and tell them what you want a mentor for, why you think it will help you, and ask them if they can help.They will.

  3. Look for a Devil’s Advocate!
    Hello Howard,

    A mentor can be useful in the long run. However, over the short term here’s a technique that I used successfully when I was a senior manager in a major bank. My role was to recommend and introduce new policy, particularly issues that affected the people. Every time I put up some new recommendations, they were shot down in flames.

    So, next time I had a major policy recommendation to present to the Exec Committee, I sourced out the member who in the past had been most critical of my proposals.

    I made an appointment to see him, took in my proposal and said something along the following lines:

    “Terry, I’ve put together a draft of a proposal I intend to put to the committee next week. I’d like your help. Shoot some holes in it for me please – tell me where and why it won’t work”.

    As you might expect, Terry relished the opportunity to get stuck into my proposal. Well, after about 45 minutes I walked out of his office with a revamped proposal (basically my original one with some modifications) and his support. Guess what? At the Exec Meeting, whenever anyone criticised my proposal, Terry jumped in and supported it. What a turnaround!

    I’ve used this same basic principle many times over, with variations and in different contexts. The idea is to get the key stakeholders (individually) to work with you in attacking your own suggestions. This way you come up with a better suggestion and ultimately the support of the people who are likely to be most critical.

    Bob Selden
    Author, “What To Do When You Become The Boss”

    As a successful mentoring relationship depends on the chemistry between the parties, using this suggested approach, you may find one of your current adversaries actually turns into one of your long term mentors.

  4. I can help
    Hi Howard

    I think Bob’s comments in particular are very valid and useful here.

    I find that often people just want someone to bounce ideas off, who are able to offer an objective view in a non judgmental environment and perhaps this is what you are looking for?

    I have a couple of people I can recommend and would be happy to help if you want to get in touch.

    Best wishes

    Annie Lawler
    Breathing Space for Business

  5. Mentoring, coaching or cultural change?
    Hi Howard. There is an endless discussion about the differences between mentors and coaches . Some view mentors as providing long term career assistance and coaches as providing shorter term performance help. Whatever you call it, it will help to be clear about what you are asking the mentor to help you with and how you expect to interact. Do you want to simply hear about their experiences or do you want them to challenge you to find your own solutions to this (and future) challenges? These approaches are of course not mutually exclusive but there may be an emphasis that suits you.
    The fire-fighting culture of your company may mean that you need something more than either of these two personal interventions: A change in the way things are done in general. Without knowing your position in the organisation, or the aspirations of the most senior people, it is difficult to know how much influence you mighty have but, as with most mentoring and coaching questions, a good starting point would be to think through how you would like it to be, and then find some colleagues who share that vision. If you wnould like to discuss this more, you can contact me via

  6. Mentor or Coach?
    If I was completely honest I probably like both a mentor and a coach. I was thinking a mentor as I was looking a bit longer term.

    I have a long term aim of becoming self employed Training Consultant but I feel that what is happening in my organisation is holding me back as I am not getting the opportunity to get involved in Management Development and the strategic side of things. On the flip side of things I feel that the current culture is a challenge I don’t want to run away from as I feel the experience will be invaluable.


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