By Jane Applegate
A few days ago, I interviewed Judy Guillermo-Newton, an organizational development expert, therapist, bank executive and member of the Fabulous Female Network.com advisory board. We discussed the challenges of managing and mentoring young female employees.
Jane Applegate: There has been a swirl of controversy around Sheryl Sandberg’s contention that women don’t help other women up the career ladder. In fact, that’s a theme in her best-selling book, Lean In. Do you agree or disagree with Sandberg?
Judy Guillermo-Newton: Sadly for the most part, I agree. Unfortunately, women get into thinking, “I did it the hard way, and you should have to, too.” Many of us feel like frauds and we worry about getting found out, so [you worry] if you have really strong people underneath you that you are mentoring and developing, they may find out and you think, ‘I’m not as good as I think I am.’
The world will eat up (successful) women. People are waiting for successful women to make a mistake. The pressure to succeed is very strong. For many of us, success became correlated with being perfect. So, screwing up is not an option.
JA: Is it tough to convince young women they need mentoring?
JGN: Yes. For many young women, until they get into the workforce, they truly believe the glass ceiling doesn’t exist. They think the concept is passé, with the same kind of thinking that (the right to have an) abortion won’t go away. I also think a lot of young women don’t value the ‘time in the seat.’ They expect to move up faster and don’t realize how much you gain from being there (in your present job).
JA: Are young women more impatient today?
JGN: I think that is part of the Millennial Generation—for both men and women. Their expectations are unrealistic and egotistical. They are told they are perfect just the way they are. But, it’s not about being perfect.
JA: Why do you think some successful women don’t want to serve as mentors?
JGN: We are only strong when we are on a team, but do we really believe it? I am probably doing better work than ever because I have a strong group of people behind me. They challenge me to be better. I get fed from mentoring people. I take pride in it. It’s great to see people you have invested energy in, take it in. Of course, they need to decide their own path. I don’t really know what’s best for them.
JA: For a young woman reading this interview, how would you suggest they find a mentor?
JGN: It’s critical to understand the difference between a coach and a mentor. A coach comes with your job—but sometimes a coach and mentor end up being the same person. A mentor is someone you chose and is a willing participant. A mentor is someone who can offer you something and not become your best friend. You are looking for professional development—whatever that means to you. You need to be able to accept constructive criticism. A mentor is not a therapist. Your therapist is someone who works on personal issues that may be blocking your success, but that’s not what you do with a mentor.
JA: Can young women learn set their egos aside and ask for help?
JGN: Not accepting help is foolish. I have one employee who is so open (to feedback) but another employee became totally defensive when we talked about better ways to do things. Ego and insecurity can get in your way. Perfectionists have a tough time. Perfectionism precludes people from taking risks. It’s problematic.
JA: What advice do you have for business owners and managers dealing with younger employees?
JGN: Being respectful is critical. Letting people know you are there to assist and develop them. It’s our responsibility to reach down the ladder and help women up. I would have loved that.
For more interviews and videos about successful women visit: http://www.fabulousfemalenetwork.com