Philip Hung Cao

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Moving from Managers to Mentors in 2016

4 min read


Managers are obsolete. Mentors are a thing – or should be!

Fortune magazine suggests that companies retire the term ”manager.” It is there in black and white on page 52 of a recent issue, in the Growth Guru article titled, “5 Key Trends to Master in 2016.”

According to Fortune, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh eliminated all of his company’s managers. The author of the article notes that most people are better supervised by their phones than by bosses (something to ponder) and goes on to say that by morphing managers into coaches and having them spend an hour of individual quality time each week with up to 40 employees, companies will get better overall performance than they will from teams with a manager and eight to 10 employees.

Cool idea. The sticking point: Converting managers into mentors and coaches. That is potentially a tough sell to professionals who have fought hard to become a “manager” and for younger professionals who are striving for that first manager title.

Rewarding Achievement
Management gurus and innovative companies suggest that growth and innovation come from developing leadership at all levels and flattening hierarchies. You reward achievement, in contrast to the traditional career trajectory that rewards advancement. With the advancement model, companies overtly or indirectly push people to aim for roles that may not suit their passion or skills because that is the only way to earn more and be recognized. When you flatten organizations and reward achievement, achievers thrive, as does innovation.

Mentors and coaches are critical in achievement-driven companies because they assist employees in developing the skill sets that allow them to achieve, inspire and lead others. The essential knowledge being transmitted by the mentor is the understanding of the enterprise, culture, protocol, perspective of senior management, strategy vs. tactics, and the synthesis of all those elements, which can take years of work and experience with a company to digest, assimilate and fully understand. Not that mentors are spoon-feeding mentees, but the best of them offer the boiled-down essence of what one needs to know to progress. The information empowers mentees to be more creative, think outside the box and take more (and appropriate) risks. These actions benefit the enterprise and accelerate careers in a positive direction.

Everyone Benefits from Mentoring Process
The exciting thing about mentoring is that it works well in both directions: experienced people mentoring more junior staff and more junior staff offering their expertise (particularly with IT) to senior professionals. The concept of ”reverse mentoring,” pioneered at GE, has been driving knowledge transfer and improved collaboration across companies large and small.

As we start thinking about career and life goals for 2016, put mentoring on your personal development agenda. Have two goals:

  • Find a mentor who will help you further develop your institutional and business savvy.
  • Look for someone junior who you can mentor.

Research has shown that those who receive mentoring build their careers faster and are more satisfied with the direction their career is going. Research also shows that those who mentor others are recognized as leaders and are more positively perceived within their organizations. This is a win-win no matter what kind of company you work for, and you will find yourself ahead of the curve as the mentor/coach leader paradigm (gradually) becomes a dominant business model—which it will.

Resolve to Get Involved in 2016
Finally, you have to know the power of mentoring. Social scientists at Harvard, UC Berkeley, Stanford and other major research universities are finding important links between happiness and gratitude. Mentoring is a dynamic process that engages us in receiving a gift of wisdom from another, for which we feel grateful and happy. When we mentor, we pay it forward and help someone who will benefit from our knowledge. This is a powerful cycle that generates happiness, effectiveness and job satisfaction. If you make only one career resolution in 2016, make it this one: get involved in mentoring.

For more about mentoring—the process, how to find a mentor, how to be a good mentee, how to mentor effectively, and more—join us for ISACA’s webinar on mentoring, 12PM (EST) / 17:00 (UTC), Wednesday, 20 January 2016. Click here for more details.

Caitlin McGaw
President, Candor McGaw Inc.

[ISACA Now Blog]

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2006-2022 Philip Hung Cao. All rights reserved