Our Senior Leadership Team made a conscious decision to concentrate on workforce development and succession planning a few years ago. “Andis” is an energetic and vivacious employee with aspirations for advancement. When she was first hired her confidence and charisma caught our attention. We agreed to invest in this employee based on what we thought was her potential for more visible positions and long term leadership.
I was her third mentor. She claimed she was held back by the first two who didn’t meet her expectations, and she was thrilled to be working with me. I was flattered and sympathized with her as I am aware of limitations I think the others possessed. She readily told anyone who would listen how wonderful I was until I offered suggestions for improvement. Then she turned against me, deciding I was the bad guy.
This employee displays difficulty managing her emotions and her lack of professional maturity continues to hold her back. I was surprised by the open displays of disdain from pouting to dirty looks. Now her 6th mentor is worn out and ready to give up.
The reality is that her last project was managed into irrelevance, and her true potential appears to be at capacity. She repeatedly rejects this feedback, turns against her current mentor seeking a new one and claims she is being unfairly being held back. Each new mentor is “the one she really needed” until they offer suggestions for improvement. How much more can or should we invest in this employee?
Your organization should be commended for your forethought and investment in your employees. Red Flag Warning: “Her 6th mentor is worn out.”
By mentoring this employee you uncovered her potential. That potential is not as high as you had hoped. A definite pattern has been identified wherein a new “savior” is sought each time she becomes “victimized” by any degree of constructive feedback or instruction.
This entitled employee expects to be promoted on charm alone and rejects any real attempts to assist in her professional development. The employee will benefit in the long term by recognizing this reality, and may eventually grow professionally or simply adjust her sights.
For the time being, your senior leadership efforts are better served mining and developing other talent and focusing on their priority responsibilities. Your team has made a good faith effort, and discovered valuable information. Not all roads lead to the top, nor should they. It’s time to regroup, support her in the capacity she is able to serve, keep an eye out for other talent, and focus on the road ahead.
Jennifer Yuhas is a Senior Consultant / Trainer with The Growth Company, an Avitus Group company. She possesses an extensive background in executive coaching, negotiations, liaison work, team building, and group processes. She has led several teams since 1995, and most recently served as the Negotiations Strategy Lead for the Alaska Delegation to the Pacific Salmon Treaty, and the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) Airspace Planning Negotiations Lead for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Jennifer@TheGrowthCompany.com / www.TheGrowthCompany.com