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Mentoring Programs

  • 1.  Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-07-2018 11:06 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-07-2018 11:06 PM
    Recently on the Professional and Career Topics Discussion Board of ASCE Collaborate, we held an interesting and informative discussion on the topic of mentoring. I personally consider that the two most important contributors to my career were having good mentors and the networking involved in relevant associations like ASCE. Many ASCE members would like to see our association get more involved in the support of mentoring our younger, upcoming leaders. In that spirit, I am going to re-open the topic in the hopes that you, our collaborators, will weigh in on issues to help guide ASCE toward that goal. Here are two questions that I hope many of you will discuss:

    1. How should a young engineer go about choosing a mentor? Or conversely, should experienced engineers choose those who they would like to mentor?

    2. Should engineering companies or agencies develop formal mentoring programs? If so, would guidance from an energized ASCE mentoring program be helpful?

    If I get enough thoughtful responses, I am going to ask a Hot-Topic question next!

    ------------------------------
    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)225-1214
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-08-2018 08:13 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-08-2018 08:12 AM

    ASCE has an archived webinar titled "Mentoring: Guidance for Mentors, Protégés, and Organizations" that answers those two questions and more. It is described and available here: http://mylearning.asce.org/diweb/catalog/item/id/70213/q/q=walesh&c=79&f2=1&n=1 

    Full disclosure: I am the instructor.

    Many organizations say they have a mentoring program but most of these are, at best, casual efforts. Successful mentoring programs require major time and thought investments by protégés, mentors, and organizational managers/leaders. That investment will yield win-win-win-win results, that is, protégés, mentors, organization, and clients/stakeholders will benefit. Why: Because people grow faster.



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    stuwalesh@...
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-08-2018 03:18 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-08-2018 03:17 PM
    thumbnail image

    I am glad that Stuart brought the Mentoring Webinar to our attention.  I watched it two years ago, I believe, to learn more about formal and informal mentoring programs (and to get one of my free ASCE PDH's).  It is well done and thorough. The do's and dont's presented are important lessons for both mentors and mentees. 

    There is still much more to be discussed about mentoring programs I think. I'm interested for instance in how these relationships are influenced by generational differences in work ethic. The attached table shows generally accepted characteristics of the multiple generations.  Generation Y is usually referred to as "Millenials".  One item left out is work/life balance which to many is more important to the younger generations. 

    My question is does a mentor understand these differences?  If so do they try to bring some of their own communication and problem solving styles to the mentee, or rather encourage them to build upon their own? Or both?

    ------------------------------
    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)225-1214
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-09-2018 08:07 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-09-2018 08:07 AM
    Bevin's stress on an inter-generational view is right on.

    Often, the mentor is older and of a different generation than the protege, such as a "Senior" mentoring a "Gen Xer." However, situations will arise when, because of needs, the mentor will be younger than the protege, such as a "high-tech"  "Gen Yer" mentoring a "Boomer."

    We intuitively know that each generation tends to have a set of somewhat unique values. A table, like that shared by Bevin, helps to make that recognition operational.

    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFurture.com


    Future.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-09-2018 03:04 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-09-2018 03:03 PM
    I've been a member of our engineering community for more than 30 years now. I've seen a number of mentorship programs. I've seen just as many that didn't really work. I think a formulaic approach to mentorship relationships may yield an answer to who you should have as your mentor. I haven't seen that answer be a very good one yet - one that results in a long-lasting partnership of information exchange, mutual care and respect, and one that is highly-beneficial and -gratifying at both ends of the mentorship stick. This kind of mentorship does not occur in a classroom or with study assignments or daily/weekly mentoring meetings. You can get all of that from a book! Real mentorship happens while working together as a team, side by side, supporting one another in what the other lacks. It's a partnership. It's also a long-term, perhaps even life-long, commitment.

    I've had many teachers in my career, but only four mentors. They were not designated company mentors nor did I make a conscious evaluation of these individuals before-hand. We just realized that there was a natural fit, a chemistry, an understanding. These individuals were well-more seasoned than I in their proficiency areas and were senior to me in the company/corporate sense. However, we both learned lots from each other. I got to learn how to be a business developer, a project manager, an engineer, and a business man from these four people. They got to learn about how people tick (something we as a group could really stand to learn more about), my project manager mentor received the technical expertise I was acquiring, my engineering mentor benefited from the project management skills I had learned, etc. It was truly a melange of teaching and learning that occurred over many years and as time went turned much more into a two-way mentorship.

    Here's my final advice/tips:

    • Stop being an engineer for the purposes of "picking" a mentor. Stop it!
    • Trash your formulas and four questions to ask about a potential mentor. Forget it, that kind of mentorship can be found on-line for a small fee or at home in the evenings with a book.
    • Ask yourself, who do I feel comfortable with? Where's the chemistry? What feels right? Who seems to be coming by your office space and discussing technical matters or just chatting with you? Instead of making it occur, LET it occur. I know this a tough one but do it anyway. If you do this, it will just happen naturally.
    • Ask Yourself if YOU are committed to mentorship.
    • Step out of that comfort zone.
    • Commit to building something instead of just getting something.

    Today, I live a thousand miles from my mentors (they are still my mentors) but I can pick up the phone or fire off a text or email any time and say "Hey I got an issue." They may also contact me and say, "Mark, what do you think about this?" It's just a natural thing. We continued our relationships LONG after our time together at company A. If you start now, you'll probably work with them again at company C or D.

    I've always been compelled to mentor others. I firmly believe it's my professional responsibility and I just like it a lot. I'm still good friends with all of the individuals I've mentored as well. They now mentor using this approach too.  Get it?

    I know my description is not as tangible as engineers are comfortable with. I know it's a little soupy and perhaps even a little sappy. We're engineers after all! I have tried it both ways. I am relaying my personal experience and what I found to be best. I hope somebody gets some mentorship benefit from my experience.

    ------------------------------
    Mark Risch P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal
    Bend OR
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-10-2018 03:59 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-10-2018 03:59 PM
    I like Mark's description of a good mentor/mentee relationship as one of working together. In working together a mentor should not be afraid to assign tasks that are out of the mentees comfort zone. Two examples from my own career:

    1.  My foremost and life-long mentor was a professor of water treatment chemistry. Dr. Ed Singley. I had comleted his graduate courses. One day, with little notice, he called me and said he had the flu and asked me to teach his undergraduate course for two weeks. Instruction was not part of normal duties and I had never done it. Out of my comfort zone. By preparing for and delivering those classes, I learned a lot and gained confidence. 

    2.  Several years later, I worked as a young consulting engineer at a small firm he co-founded.  We worked together on applied research for corrosion of water pipes. Including household copper plumbing. Together we published several peer reviewed papers and even a chapter in a water treatment book. He directed the research and I crunched the numbers and wrote the first drafts.  He was invited to give a full day seminar on pipe corrosion to a state-wide audience in Connecticut (we are from Florida). I helped him with his slides. A week before the conference he told me he had a conflict and asked me to give the seminar. Yikes!  Out of my comfort zone. How would I be received not being Ed Singley?  Well the seminar was a success and totally boosted my confidence in giving technical presentations. 

    Anyone else like to share stories about their mentors?

    ------------------------------
    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
    (561)225-1214
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-11-2018 08:02 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-11-2018 08:01 AM
    Bevin's view that mentors should push mentees out of their comfort zone is right on. Somewhat like him, I had a mentor when I was an undergraduate (at the time, I did not know anything about mentoring) who pushed me to do undergraduate research, to speak, and to apply to what I thought was the best graduate school. Given my background, I doubt I would naturally have done any of those things.

    One sign of an effective mentoring program is that mentees leave essentially all mentor-mentee discussions with something new to think about and some action item to attend to. Sometime mentors leave discussions the same way.

    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-12-2018 01:41 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-12-2018 01:40 PM
    Dr. Stu and Bevin,

    I agree vigorously on the "out of the comfort zone" notion. I firmly believe being out of one's comfort zone is the single-most powerful way for a person to grow. It forces them to grow in lots of different directions at the same time. This notion has to be one of the keys in our thinking going forward on our future mentorship discussions.

    One more important discussion item I see on the agenda is the power of making and the opportunity to make mistakes. This is a powerful mode for personal growth and potentially provides as comprehensive a growth method as being out of your comfort zone.

    Some higher-level thoughts for our future mentoring "program" discussions might be (and I'm just thinking out loud now and coveting your feedback):

    • Discerning between mentorship and training, training and professional/personal growth.. How do you impart this understanding to someone that has never experienced true mentorship, especially the younger who may still only have a framework notion of what "career" means.
    • Mentorship is a relationship - personal, trusting, caring, confidential, ...
    • Is mentoring a professional duty, responsibility, etc? Or is it only for some...
    • To me, "program" connotes a beginning and an end, sort of like a training program. In reading the testimonials given on this thread, about our own mentorship experiences, I think I'm seeing commonality with the idea that this is an on-going process with no particular end in sight.
    • In that "no-end-in-sight" vein, what are your thoughts about commitment level and how it fits in?
    • Is a focusing on mentor initiation rather than protege initiation ringing a bell with anyone? Could that lead to exclusion of a potential protege seeking a mentorship relationship? How do we avoid that barrier?
    • In my experience, personal chemistry is an essential to guiding this relationship pairing. I think this is really important to flesh out. Am I seeing commonality with what we have all related? Yes? No? Maybe so?
    • Is what I've written here a bunch of dribble when we are actually heading towards a training program?


    ------------------------------
    Mark Risch P.E., M.ASCE
    Owner, Principal Engineer
    Bend OR
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-14-2018 09:11 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-14-2018 09:10 AM

    Mark:

    Yes, we need to see the value of mistakes and, more broadly, the value of a growth or exploratory mindset that expects and learns from mistakes. Effective mentors share their mistakes stories with mentees.

    Some of my "mistakes" ideas, as well as thoughts from others, are offered here:  http://www.helpingyouengineeryourfuture.com/mistakes.htm

    Stu



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYourFuture.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-13-2018 08:13 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-13-2018 08:13 AM
    Both my immediate supervisor and my Senior Manager retired at the same time.  It was our sections practice to go out to lunch together once every two weeks and this slowly fell apart until it was just the three of us.  We met until both died in their late eighties.  They rather enjoyed helping me with any kind of technical and management questions. I very much enjoyed some of the stories they told.  It is wonderful to learn from others mistakes, especially when we could have a good laugh with no worries.  I highly recommend retired mentors.  I have the fondest memories of mine and they certainly helped my career. 





  • 11.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-13-2018 08:20 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-13-2018 08:19 AM
    Within the last year or so, ENR published a letter on their back editorial page from a young engineer in construction. I did not save the article, so you will have to put up with my paraphrasing. I think that this was the young engineer's first field job and it reminded me of my first field job where the foreman, wearing an old pork pie hat and a long cigar, welcomed me with the term "fresh meat."

    The young engineer shared a field office with his boss, the superintendent. One day at lunch the boss told the engineer that they should not eat lunch together anymore, but he should eat lunch with the crew- where he "did not belong." This was wise advice as the ability to get along and interact with the field supervision and the craftsman is essential for a field engineer.

    Over the years, I found that asking advice from field personnel was most helpful as I probably needed some assistance. This has to be done in true sincerity and both parties should feel good about it. Not too long ago, as a consultant, it looked like I would be stranded in Philadelphia. Two union workers invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them and their families. I was humbled and thankful for these representatives of the "City of Brotherly Love" for their generosity and thoughtfulness.

    Jim Worrell
    Past Chairman
    ASCE CI Crane Safety Committee



    ------------------------------
    James Worrell
    Mostly Retired
    PE, RLS (retired)
    Raleigh NC
    [jimworrell@...]
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-08-2018 01:20 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-08-2018 01:19 PM
    I think mentoring is the only process in which both the teacher and student receive significant benefit.  Formalizing mentorship is difficult.  First the mentor needs to want to do it, and the mentored needs to want it.  Second it is difficult to mentor those under your immediate command structure.

    I am not sure where I read this (possibly Dave Ramsey) but I have been told those that want to be mentored should look for 6 types of mentors.  I am using the word love below to describe a relationship in which the mentor has an emotional and financial reason to support the person.  The six types of mentors I have been taught to look for are:
    1.  Someone that knows your business and job well, and loves you.  This could be a supervisor in a parallel unit of your company, or your supervisor.
    2.  Someone that knows your business and job well, but does not have any vested interest in you.  This could be a supervisor from a previous company, a colleague from another company.
    3. Someone that knows your business well, and loves you. This is someone that has a vested interest in your success, understands civil engineering, but does not necessarily understand your specific job title (in my case hydrologist).  This would be a senior manager in your company.
    4. Someone that knows your business well, and does not have a vested interest in you. This could be a previous senior manager, or a professor.
    5. Someone that does not know your business, but loves you.  This is often a spouse, but could be a minister, parent or other person like that.
    6. Someone that neither knows your business, nor has a vested interest in you.  This is the hardest one to fill, but could be filled with a relationship at a civic association, chamber of commerce, or peer to peer network.

    1 and 2 understand your business, and your job, and help you develop strategies to become better in your business. 1 will also consider work/life balance in their help.  2. provides an objective view on your work and business.

    3 and 4 understand your business, and overall company, and its place in the big world.  Their viewpoint helps you determine if your business is a good one to be in right now, and whether your company is the right one for you to be in.

    5 and 6 help you to understand and perfect the rest of the things beside work that you need to know to live in the world.  They help you balance the business success formula that 1 and 2 encourage with the life success formula you need to be a complete person.

    ------------------------------
    Dwayne Culp, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng, M.ASCE
    Culp Engineering, LLC
    Rosenberg TX
    (713)898-1977
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-09-2018 10:57 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-09-2018 10:57 AM

    Dwayne's "six types of mentors" discussion should remind us that mentoring is, first of all, about the protégé -- what does he or she want to accomplish?

    Yes, most mentors also benefit, but the focus should be on the protégé beginning with matching mentors and protégés.



    ------------------------------
    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    219-242-1704
    www.HelpingYouEngineerYour
    Future.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Mentoring Programs

    Posted 10-09-2018 03:06 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 10-09-2018 03:06 PM
    Very interesting discussion regarding mentoring. Thank you to all that have contributed.

    In my experience, the most important factor for successful mentorships – as with most activities – is the mindset and will of those involved. I think a successful mentorship relationship requires ~70% effort by the mentee and 30% effort by the mentor. I say that there is less effort required by the mentor as these are likely experienced professionals who understand the value of mentorship. On the other hand, a young professional has several barriers to overcome: the vulnerability that comes with telling someone what you don't know, asking for help, committing time and effort to an extracurricular activity, learning about the value of mentorship relationships, among others. Therefore, the effort by the young professional has to be greater to ensure the success of the relationship. 

    To my delight, most successful professionals are willing to commit to a mentorship relationship if the mentee show eagerness and willingness to learn.

    ------------------------------
    Carlos Zuluaga M.Eng, S.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Candidate, Civil Engineering
    North Carolina State University
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Mentoring Programs