I have an a Direct who has been looking for a Mentor.  While I was on vacation she approached a Senior Level Corporate Representative who is located in our facility.  This Corporate Rep. is often at times at odds (all be it professionally) with my boss due to the fact that our department is directly influenced by his decisions.

I am concerned that the Corporate Rep. will get info from my direct instead of asking either me or my boss.  Also I worry that info may get to the Corporate level about a local change before my boss has an opportunity to make the announcement.

Does anyone think my fears are reasoned or unfounded?  I am annoyed that my Direct did not speak to me first.  Can I use my Role Power to tell her that I do not want her to have this relationship with the Corporate Rep.

Thanks in advance.  This one has been weighing on me.  My boss was on vacation and I have not had an opportunity to talk to him yet.


smorison's picture

In the past i was mentored by a Business Director of a department that i was a supplier to, and often in professional conflict with. Out of this mentor/mentee relationship as the BD got to know me better we ended up working together a lot more effectively resulting in improvements not just for my department but for the whole business unit i worked for. Part of the reason for the success of this is that the company had a very structured mentoring process with formal confidentuality agreements and a code of conduct.

Ultimately i learnt a lot and was also able to influence the BD's opinion of me and my team resulting in a dramatic change.

I can understand being annoyed at your direct, but its a perfect chance for some feedback :)

Also make sure you get your boss' buy in on this, just in case the mentor isn't processional enough and it backfires.

DISC: 7511

RaisingCain's picture

"Does anyone think my fears are reasoned or unfounded?" Yes.

But that's enough of the Friday humor, seriously, step back and look at what you, your direct, and the corp rep are trying to achieve here.

Is the purpose of this relationship to submarine you?  Not likely.  Is the purpose of this relationship for your direct to reap all the benefits of mentoring; better themselves? Very likely.

Don't use role power for anything.  Use relationship power to set some ground rules and have the direct agree to follow them.  Use one on one's to see how its going and how the direct is improving.  The first sign that the ground rules were broken you now have a good case for negative feedback, and putting the kibosh (love that word) on that mentorship arrangement.



damcg63's picture
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"Does anyone think my fears are reasoned or unfounded?" 


Absolutely.   Encourage it....

This can work to the organization's advantage by opening some unofficial communication channels.


A few things - I would inform your boss - but in a matter-of-fact manner.  Like in a one on one - 'oh and Jane is now mentoring Alice - they started two weeks ago'.   Gauge the reaction....and learn.

Also, it will keep you honest about keeping things positive with your directs about the managerial politics....not a bad thing.

Your direct's relationship with the mentor will help the direct, but can also have an indirect (positive) impact on your (and your manager's) relationship with that mentor.  If you work it properly.

 - I also agree with RC - Just make some light ground rules with the "this is for advice, please do not deliver project status at mentor/mentee meetings.  The premature release of information about work in progress can be confusing to the organization....let that stuff go through normal channels.


I say encourage it....



vonigan's picture
Training Badge

Your concern is relevant (I wouldn't say 'fear', as fear often makes people do irrational things!)

Given that situation, suggest the following: as DAMCG63 suggested, let your boss know in a matter of fact manner - and you can tailor your boss's outlook on it by suggesting that 'this may be advantageous for interdepartmental relationships, once we set ground rules regarding confidentiality". This shows your boss that you are open-minded about the situation (if you are, that is!).

If your boss listens and agrees, then you can go ahead to offer feedback to your direct "When you bypass the chain of command to set up a mentoring relationship, it puts our entire team in an awkward situation" (or other feedback related to their DISC profile). "Would you please ensure that proper chain-of-command communication is maintained in future?". Once you get her acknowledgement and agreement to work better in future, then (given that you have your boss's ok), you can ask her to maintain confidentiality regarding team activities that affect the Corporate Rep and wish her well on her Mentor/Mentee relationship - actually, even ensure that the relationship is well-defined (has a defined start and finish, communication method, etc - there's a podcast for that!)

As part of the follow through, ensure that you ask how their mentoring relationship is progressing in your O3s. Not the details or specifics, just requests for feedback if she believes the relationship is being helpful to her career development.

If your boss doesn't agree with it, then you don't have much choice, except to still offer feedback and advise her that you have discussed the relationship within the chain of command, and she cannot proceed with the relationship. Be careful, however, to follow through with her request for a mentor within an appropriate time, as this can affect her disposition and may affect her retention.

Good Luck!