Where is your manager? 

The context 

Yesterday we launched a London wide peer to peer mentoring scheme for the CIPD. It was chaotic and overwhelming and as I wake up this morning there is a good chance to that 40 people will get a mentoring relationship out of the exercise, which would be amazing. Thanks to all the mentors – it was incredible to see you all in there. 

The evening was run a bit like speed dating, so we got to see a host of mentees over the evening and listen to what they wanted to a mentor. 

The bit where I’m annoyed 

What worried me was that most of them just wanted a manager – or what their manager should be providing.

  • I need to get more confidence 
  • I need to understand how to talk to a senior team
  • I need to understand data better
  • I need someone to be on my back constantly to deliver 
  • I’m working in my comfort zone, I need someone to push me

As I listened I became more and more concerned at the level of support afforded to people by their managers. Especially in the SME world, but also in larger organisations. 

It seems I got incredibly lucky in my career because the list of things above are all things I’ve been coached and supported through by my manager at various parts of my career. It’s fair to say I wasn’t allowed to be bad at them. 

And most of the list comprises things that you need to see someone in action (or more regularly than a mentoring relationship tends to be) to support and advise on. 

I’m sure people will benefit from the evening and the relationships formed – but they would benefit even more from some care and investment from their manager each day. A regular meeting with a mentor can’t fill the gap caused by regular neglect. It shouldn’t have to. Managers – up your game.  

4 thoughts on “Where is your manager? 

  1. Interesting to see in a group. I’m wondering have those needs been shared with their managers by the mentees? I’m of the philosophy that management is about seeking out these needs but there’s a possibility that what you are seeing hasn’t been shared before but is being shared now. You could say the developmental need that would help the manager support them is indeed openness, sharing, vulnerability. On the other hand maybe it’s just more effective and efficient to focus on understanding data better…

    I imagine that the managers aren’t involved in the mentoring scheme. Given your observations it’s making me wonder how could the scheme could be enabling/disabling them to become better managers. I’m imagining much of this will be developmental mentoring so in the prep/training for the mentors I wonder if you’ve covered thinking about the organisation & managers the mentees work for. Not to create feedback or direct involvement by the mentor but more from the perspective of perhaps suggesting sharing mentoring discussion outputs?


  2. “I need someone on my back constantly to deliver” “I’m working in my comfort zone, I need someone to push me”
    Really? I’m annoyed to and find those comments really disappointing.
    Is it a manager’s job to be on someone’s back constantly? To me that sounds like a very parent-child relationship and the individual needs to take responsibility for their own actions. How often do people complain about micro-management?
    Similarly with someone working in their comfort zone. Don’t wait for someone else to push you, take the initiative. It’s your career, if you’re not interested in pushing yourself why should someone else do that for you? Look for and grasp opportunities.
    Are you sure the issues surfaced are due to manager neglect or is it more about individuals not taking responsibility for themselves and trying to find someone to do that for them?


    1. Interesting point. I guess the important thing is people recognising when they are struggling with motivation and not being afraid to ask for help. I know, for instance, that if I want to achieve a goal I sometimes need a nudge or a nag from people around me. I completely agree that we need to own our own careers, but I respect the fact that people were open enough to seek out support.


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