Write Medicine

Mentoring You, Mentoring Me: Reciprocity and Relationship

October 14, 2021 Alexandra Howson PhD
Write Medicine
Mentoring You, Mentoring Me: Reciprocity and Relationship
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

My guest on episode 16 of Write Medicine is Greselda Butler, a  health education professional who works at Otsuka. Greselda lives her passion for educating and leading others toward their passion.  IN this episode, we talk about mentoring—what is is, its benefits for both mentor and mentee, and how to find and structure mentoring opportunities.

Resources
Goldfarb Institute
Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions
Healthcare Business Women's Association

The Alliance’s Pilot Mentoring Program launched in October 2020

https://hbr-org.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/hbr.org/amp/2021/05/what-great-mentorship-looks-like-in-a-hybrid-workplace

Townsend B. Mentoring Virtually: A Timely Benefit for Alliance Members

Johnson-Bailey J, Cervero R. Mentoring in black and white: the intricacies of cross‐cultural mentoring. Sociology. 2007: 7-21

Connect with Greselda
Twitter: @aCMEstory
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/greseldabutler

Podcast Team
Host: Alexandra Howson PhD
Sound Engineer: Suzen Marie
Shownotes: Linzy Carothers


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Alexandra Howson  04:43

Hello, and welcome to Write Medicine. I'm Alex Howson your host and I'm here today with Greselda Butler, health education professional. We're here today to talk but mentoring welcome preserver.

 

Greselda Butler  05:03

Thank you, Alex, thank you for having me. Oh, it's great to see you. It really is great to see you. You too. 

 

Alexandra Howson  05:11

We're going to talk about mentoring today. Let me ask first of all, if you could introduce yourself to listeners, who you are and what you do.

 

Greselda Butler  05:25

Sure. So, I am Griselda Butler. I am a health education professional. And I like to start off with that, because there's a tendency for folks to say, you know, their title. And my title is just that it's a title, it could change tomorrow. But I still view myself as a health education professional. I've been working in the field since 1997. And I have held various position. But I've always seen myself first and foremost, as an educator. I work for Otsuka Pharmaceutical at this time. But prior to join Otsuka, about nine years ago, I was an education provider for 15 and a half years.

 

Alexandra Howson  06:14

Beautiful. And can we talk a little bit about mentoring them? Why is mentoring important to you?

 

Greselda Butler  06:23

Mentoring is so critical. I think we're seeing it more and more even right now, when it comes to young people. But mentoring became important to me, because I wasn't seeing people who looked like me. in this field. I was not connected in a way that some others may have been connected, I didn't come through the farmer sort of pathway to education. And I didn't have traditional academic background. And mentoring was what really helped me to determine that this was my career path. I I value, mentorship. When I'm being mentored, and when I'm mentoring others, I think the more I mentor officially and unofficially. And we can talk about what difference there is between those two things, the more I have to give to the folks who I'm mentoring, and I do the same for them. It may be official or unofficial.

 

Alexandra Howson  07:27

So there's a lot in there that I want to unpack. First of all, you talked about connection and network and not having or feeling that you didn't have the kind of connections to support your work in this field. So how did you get into this field?

 

Greselda Butler  07:47

Sure. So I studied biology and undergrad and didn't really have any intention of becoming a teacher. I wasn't on a path to become a bench scientist. But I loved science. I've always loved the field of medicine. And I actually had a passion to teach and to educate but not in a formal, traditional setting. And like a lot of young people 22-23, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, which was very unlike me up until that point, I grew up in a very structured way. And so, you had goals, you set them, you achieve them, and you moved on to the next one, but I was at a different place in my life. So, I had taken different jobs doing different things and wasn't satisfied with any of them, and applied for a position at a place called the Goldfarb Institute. I'd never heard of it, nothing about it. But it mentioned a variety of things that caught my attention. The first was that it was education work for adults in the health care profession, specifically those working in long term care and post-acute care. And then the second was writing someone who is interested in learning the development skills for writing grants, and working for a nonprofit in a culturally competent setting. And I have to tell you, I'm not sure culturally competent setting was a phrase I'd heard prior to reading that job description. And it was definitely I feel like ahead of its time in many ways.

 

Alexandra Howson  09:27

This was in the 1990s. Yes. Right. Right. And you mentioned your experience of being mentored. So, what was your first experience of something that you would describe as being mentored?

 

Greselda Butler  09:46

Absolutely. So, I applied for that position. I went in for the interview with no prior experience, but having read the description, I could tell they wanted someone who was a novice and who could be trained. And I felt confident that I could be trained. And I met Lilly Miller, the executive director of the Goldfarb Institute. There was no other Institute of its kind like it at the time, it was a private institute for educating healthcare professionals who specifically worked in the long-term care and post-acute care community. And the institute was housed within the skilled nursing facility, it sat on a campus, and the campus was a combination of 55 and older living and housing, independent living, assisted living, and then the skilled nursing. And the Goldfarb Institute was in the medical wing of the skilled nursing facility. And the first day I arrived, was Dr. Day, they used to call it, was the day that residents were getting seen by the physician getting checkup, you know, just getting seen. And that happened on a weekly basis. And I showed up. And I was sort of like, Oh, you know, here's like 75, you know, elderly, in line, just waiting to see the doctor and I kind of slid by them and went to the door, knocked on the door, really opened the door, and she had me come in. And she said, you know, don't close the door behind you, we're going to go back out into the hallway. And I said, Oh, okay, yeah. And she introduced herself, welcome to me, etc. And she said, Let's go out here and talk. And we went out to the hallway, and she greeted every single person by name, Oh, my gosh, every single one of them knew personal details. And they asked her how things were going. And the ones who couldn't talk, who were you know, phasic or just were not having a good day. Some were screaming, and yelling, and combative and they were there with their CGA or certified geriatric assistant. And I was looking around, and I'm not at all bothered by that, because I immediately felt something in the start, because I had volunteered for years in junior high school, in high school, at a nursing home in my community, and then at the VA. So, I thought, Okay, I understand what's going on here. And I just kind of observed, and someone said, who was that to her? You know, she said, oh, I think she's going to take the position I have open; she's going to come work for the institute. And they were like, who are you? You know, and I said, my name and, you know, where are you from? And they were asking me questions. And I was just answering and talking to them. And then more of them started to come around and ask me questions. And I realized Lily was just observing me in this environment. We were out there for maybe 15-20 minutes. And then she invited me back into the office. And she said, you have the position! And I said, Is there any kind of test I need to take? Did you want the writings I brought? I was a very formal person. and still am, to be perfectly honest. But I was just flabbergasted like, I got the job already. And she said, you observe, you watched me interact and engage, you are not at all uncomfortable. They peppered with questions, and you responded. And that is what I'm looking for. First and foremost, you have to care about the people who will benefit from the education as healthcare professionals, okay? If you don't care about them, then you don't need to do this job. Because that's why I'm here. And I thought, Okay. Wow. And she didn't know she was mentoring me necessarily. Or maybe she did. And I didn't know, that was probably more like it. But from that moment on everything from grant writing that she was prolific to technology, which was also incredibly good at and you're talking about a woman in her late 60s. In 1997, excellent technology had me create an intranet for the institute, had me working with the Institute to make sure all of our materials reflected culturally competent care, which was highly important because the campus was predominantly for people of Orthodox Jewish background. It was about at that time, 75% private pay, and almost all of the residents had an Orthodox Jewish background. And I had to learn the customs I had to participate. I wish all of this was unfamiliar to me, but yet not unfamiliar at all. And so she showed up from day one as a mentor without being heavy handed, but she made it clear what the foundation for the role was that I had to care about people, and in particular, elderly and infirm people and those who may not be able to advocate on their own behalf.

 

Alexandra Howson  15:16

So I'm feeling that story is very powerful. And one of the things that I find really striking is you have a really strong service ethic that comes across in everything that you do. How do we get people to care? Because if those opportunities for being side by side and sharing the same space, with people who are different from us, whoever we are, whoever the other is, then how can we create those care connections?  That's a huge question. And I'm not sure it's one that we thought we were going to talk about, so maybe we circle back around to that, but I have a feeling you're gonna want to address it.

 

Greselda Butler  16:14

You know, it is a big question, Alex. And I definitely can't say I have any specific answers. A lot of it started with my upbringing. My mom was very civically engaged. And I also grew up during a time where community meant community, you know, your neighbors, you talk to your neighbors, I walked to the park by myself, without fear. I had a different type of upbringing, because of the age that I am in the timeframe I grew up in. But also because I was introduced and exposed to culture. Different ways of believing my mom was Catholic, she did not insist that we all go to Catholic Church, she, I remember, for a two year period, she allowed me to try all different religions. And, you know, she asked if I was welcome to come, I could go and experience it, and come back. But I had to tell her, what was the experience? What did I learn from it. And when I finally settled on the fact that I did identify as Catholic, she was clearly very happy. But also, she said, now make it your own. There is no one doctrine that's going to be right within Catholicism for you. And she also said, there's no one thing you're going to know about looking at someone, you have to hear their story. Let them tell you who they are, don't make any assumptions. And I think I've walked into most situations with that in mind. And I think if we can do that, if we can remove our ego, which you and I are talking about before we started recording, yeah, remove our ego from the equation and let people come to you as they are. That's, I think that's critical to building both empathy and acceptance of others. without it being tolerance. I really, I'm not a huge fan of the word tolerance, because it, it automatically implies negative way of seeing things.

 

Alexandra Howson  18:13

No, I agree with you there. As soon as you say the word there's a discomfort that arises in, you know, in my heart space. I know, I know what you mean. Your mom was modeling, education to you. experiential learning, as you were, as you were growing into, you know, as you were moving into young adulthood. You talked about so when you were talking about  Lily Miller, you talked about you, you're not even sure if she was aware that she was mentoring you? Or maybe she was aware and you weren't aware? I think that kind of raises the question of, what is it we mean by mentoring, because it's possible to have those relationships in our lives, often at points that we meet them, but we're not we're not quite sure who that person is, or why they're there. So, what how do we define, how do you define mentoring?

 

Greselda Butler  19:24

You know, I obviously gave us a lot of thought before our discussion here today. And I even went to look up the word and see the different ways in which it was defined sort of across the internet. But I have to tell you, I came back to sort of a combination of what's out there, but also my own definition. My definition of mentoring is the process of establishing trust, such that as the mentor your lived experience, adds value to the experience of the mentee. It's a process there is no, I mentor you. And then I walked away. It's not I mentored you about this one topic, and then we never talked about it again. If you're not building trust initially, and listening more than anything, no, sometimes I think people get confused that if you're the mentor, then you're telling the other person what they need to do. I feel it's very much the opposite. If you're the mentor, you're guiding the other person to think about what it is they want to do. And how can they achieve it? And you can give them examples from your lived experience that can inform some of their choices, but you cannot tell them what to do. That's a different relationship entire.

 

Alexandra Howson  20:45

So in that experience of being at the Goldfarb Institute, did I get that? Did Lily Miller guide you?

 

Greselda Butler  20:58

I didn't know it at the time that she was preparing to retire. And that was a very interesting time. So, she didn't tell me she was preparing to retire. But she very quickly once I got my foot, and I began doing the work of helping to write the grads helping to plan the curriculum, we were a curricular based program. So, two semesters a year, programs Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And that went on for three months, semesters, twice a year, and then a huge conference that we used to do on joint accreditation, she started giving me responsibility for planning the huge joint accreditation conference. And I was always sort of skeptical, like you should do this. And I hadn't been there, maybe six or seven months before the planning needed to start and she would run with it. Go right ahead. Here are all the elements that you need. She didn't leave me, you know, in the lurch. But she was like, you're all the elements that are required. And here's all the materials from last year. So you can take a look at those, you can use those to guide you. Now, we were nonprofit. So, we interestingly, I had no knowledge of funding from educational grants from pharma. Before, moving to for profit, I didn't even know that wasn't an op opportunity. But I was seeking funding from different sources, writing small grants, writing some larger government grants, and working with the general public. And because the community I lived in, I lived in Highland Park, New Jersey at the time, which is known to be predominantly Jewish community, significant number of Orthodox individuals live there. So is living in the community working on behalf of folks who believed, and so I was very embedded within the community and their needs. And so, I think that drove a lot of my success. Not that I didn't have failures. And when I didn't do something that she expected me to do, there wasn't ah, I'm so disappointed in you. It was, you know, you got ahead of yourself. You know, there were some steps you needed to take in between here and here, and you didn't take them. And maybe that's because you felt overconfident? Well, I know what I'm doing. I was successful here. And she was very good at stepping back to say, you know, here's where the lapse happened. And here's where you need to shore up things. And let's go back and try it again. You don't get that in most professional settings, right? It just doesn't happen. And it also doesn't necessarily happen when there's a young black woman working in an environment with an Orthodox Jewish mentor, you know, supervisor, leader, who's making it a priority to see you succeed. And so, I, I learned by doing and I embraced what I was doing. And I, I gained so much from it. And little by little I began to understand the concept of mentoring. But I have to tell you, it wasn't fully manifested until after Lilly announced to me that she was retiring. And I thought I didn't see you interview anybody who's taking over, you know who's coming in, or when will I meet this new executive director, and she was like, you will be the interim director of the Goldfarb Institute. While the hiring process continues, we haven't found the right person. And I thought, Oh, no. We're coming up on a semester. I mean, there was so much that went into it. Everything was self-contained within the Institute, you couldn't bring food in or out. So I was working with our own internal food service. Because again, with orthodox institute, you can't bring food in or out. So, I had the curriculum planned and all the faculty communications to do and we really were just a party of two, it was just the two of us plus volunteers to help me get out all the mailings. The registrations were really high, we were filling a need that wasn't being filmed in other ways. And so, I was a little bit panicked. And she said, no, no, you've been doing it. Now you can own it, right, you're gonna own it, and I'm gonna leave you in good hands, you know, the director of the campus, and the leadership are all behind you, they understand why I put you in place, I understood that I would never become executive director, because they're expecting someone who's embedded in the community, through faith, and through connections within the community, which would lead and I understood that, but that I was being given an opportunity to take ownership, and that I could also put my stamp on it, you know, in a way that maybe wasn't there. Because the difference between what I saw and what I was doing was also the competencies needed for a lot of the CGA’s, who are mostly people of color, right? So are we addressing their needs? Enough? I know there are a lot of physicians and pharmacists and nurses showing up here, many of whom are people of color, but the majority of people providing the care for actual residents are people of color. Right? And from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. And so I had a little kernel of an idea that I wanted to push through to do more CGA specific training and education. And was there a need. And so, I did a little poll inside my community. And that was the first project that I ever pushed through to change the curriculum a bit. And that gave me confidence. And, you know, they eventually let me hire an administrative assistant. And I was able to bring in young man, person of color. And he was almost in the same position I was in when I joined that I wasn't there that long, and had taken over. And he was like, oh, this is so interesting. And I could see myself passing on what I'd learned from Lily. And that changed everything right, I was now in a position to both teach and educate, but to listen and hear him when he had real ideas that he thought he thought could help change things. And he had a really strong nonprofit background. And so he knew things I didn't know when I was like, yes, let's try that. So it's a it's a continuous loop. Alex, it's, it was a continuous loop, you know, right in front of me happening in real time. And sometimes in the moment, you don't have a name for it, right? We'd like to call things in education. But I didn't have a name for it at the time. But it was both me mentoring and again, in some ways, being mentored by this new young person with these bright ideas. And eventually, a new executive director who came in who was also really wonderful. So, I'm sorry, that was a very long-winded way to answer your question. But it was one of that experience. Yeah,

 

Alexandra Howson  28:27

no, it's a wonderful answer. answer to the question. That's the word that that comes to mind when you're talking about that process is reciprocity. Because it's an exchange of expertise, of learning between, you know, two or more work people. And that's what keeps the loop, the loop going.  And you were still really young.

 

Greselda Butler 28:59

Yeah, That's so much anymore, Alex. But yeah, we're all we're all there. And I stopped thinking about chronological age.

 

Alexandra Howson  29:11

I hear you're all sorts of reasons, mostly because, you know, I've stopped coloring my hair. And that's been a really interesting journey. But that's not what we're here to talk about. So, in that, in that process of giving and receiving of information and expertise. I see let me backtrack, because one of the things that you talked about was the curriculum that you designed for CGA’s. And, you know, I've been involved in a lot of projects, interviewing providers for various kinds of research, studies, and of course, one and maybe about 10 years ago, I was traveling to different practices and being on site with people. And of course, one of the things that you realize very quickly, is, you know, as you said, the people actually delivering care at the frontline are often, often medical assistants, you know, in different kinds of clinics, and are mostly people of color. But when you think about continuing education, none of the education that certainly I've been involved in, and I'd be interested to hear more about your experience really even thinks about never mind targets education, to those groups of caregivers. Is that something that you've so given that you designed a curriculum early in your career? Is that something that you've been able to thread through your professional experience, as you've kind of moved into different positions and different work settings? You create that argument for? Here's a really important group of health care workers who need to be better served?

 

Greselda Butler  31:18

Alex, I wish I could tell you the answer was yes. But the answer is no. I have not been as successful as I would have liked. I'd say I've been mostly unsuccessful. Whenever I lobbied my supervisors or my organizations that I've worked for to focus more intuitively on, you know, specific groups, whether it be people of color, whether it be women in certain professions, I think I probably only had limited success early on, partially due to sort of reticence to even have the discussion amongst certain organizations, but also due to me not being well versed enough to have the conversation the right way with the right people. So it was a combination of things early on, it was my inexperience, having come from such an idyllic sort of situation, into a for profit setting where they were like, that's cute, you know, we're not. Right. And I don't mean to be glib about it, but it was very much like, why would we focus on that, you know, that's just creating a situation where there is not and I'm like, No, that's very much a real thing. That's happening, but okay. And it wasn't until I learned to have the conversation with more finesse, and to come with, you know, important points of evidence that might matter to the people in the room to like, read the room better, that I started to see success. But even now, that success is oftentimes limited to healthcare professionals at the physician, pharmacist, you know, sometimes MPPA level, when I start to have a conversation about what's happening at other levels, you know, what's happening with, you know, other types of health care professionals, allied health professionals, people who work in office settings, you know, professional practices, they're the first points of contact when I want to have those conversations, oftentimes, there's little or limited interest, and not because they don't recognize it. So, the problem is no longer lack of recognition. It's usually some other rationale or reason.

 

Alexandra Howson  33:47

Well, the shift from nonprofit to for profit, changes everything. And there's a politics around the conversations that can be had and how the conversations can be had. I get that. I want to come back to mentoring. And you've touched on this a couple of times and in your personal experience. You've already talked a little bit about how when you were at the Goldfarb Institute, you were able to transition from mentee to mentor. How can people working in continuing medical education, continuing professional development, continuing education for health professionals, look for opportunities to mentor and what should they be thinking about? As they're looking for those opportunities?

 

Greselda Butler  34:42

I always say look around you what's immediately around you? Are you in a position to support someone who's at a different stage of their career? Do you belong to professional organizations where they may be in need for mentorship and maybe it's not always announced? But if you are interested in sharing your lived experience your knowledge or expertise, and listening and guiding, usually there's someone out there who wants it and needs it, and is maybe a little bit afraid to ask for it. Because we've positioned mentorship as a very formal thing in a lot of settings. And those of us who may be in positions to mentor often view it as I don't have the time to take that on. And I mentioned earlier that I've been officially and unofficially mentored in many ways. And sometimes the unofficial is more impactful. It's those sidebar conversations where you reach out and say, you know, hey, how are things going? You know, you were working on a project, how did that turnout? You know, where are you at with the project? Do you need someone to take a look at things for you who's sort of distant from the project and maybe provide some feedback. Those sound like, oh, I'm just offering to help. But what I want to make sure the person knows is that I recognize that they're doing something that's important to them, maybe I have something to offer, it doesn't have to be grand, what you have to offer doesn't have to be some huge thing. But time is the thing that is hardest to come by. And it's the thing most people don't want to ask. So, to me that that's a critical part of mentoring, to be able to reach out and say I have time for you.And I have a woman whom we both know, I won't say her name, who is very important to me, we began mentor-mentee relationship, probably in 2013, or 14. And we find time to meet monthly to this day. That's wonderful. And she's on my level, or surpassed it if you want to look at it that way. But we, we just keep finding time for each other. And so, we've long since passed the point of mentor-mentee in quotation marks, we are supporting and serving each other as best we can. And we did it through the pandemic. We've done it through ups and downs in our career. You know, difficult projects, difficult periods of life, personal and professional. And I hope it continues. Because mentorship builds you up, you may think of it as work, but ultimately, it sounds cheesy, but you will get so much more back than you ever put out that the worst part of it will start to go away, you'll stop viewing it through that lens. 

 

Alexandra Howson  37:56

So in order to be a mentor, you need to care in the first place. And yet to be able to express that care in a way that is meaningful to whomever is in front of you and needs that kind of support. If you are someone who is looking for a mentor, it almost seems to us that that's the hardest place to be in. Because actually, before we get to that, just sticking with the in order to see yourself as a mentor, because I think one of the things that you talked about was you know, it is about time it is about guidance and sharing expertise. A barrier I'm guessing for a lot of people is that they don't feel they're in you know, you mentioned that that your mentor-mentee experience at the moment is you're at a similar level. So, I'm guessing there are a lot of people who feel okay, I'm not at a level where I can really share my expertise. I am insert label, job title here. How do people get beyond that sense of you don't need to be at a certain level, you don't need to have a certain job title in order to be an effective mentor.

 

Greselda Butler  39:21

Humility first and foremost, if all you are is the subtotal of what you think, you know, that is very limiting box to put yourself in. I'm always hopeful every day that I'm going to learn something, and whether it's under my own volition or someone is going to tell me something I didn't know before. Or I'm gonna watch something I can learn something from that. Or by virtue of the work that I do, I'm going to have to look something up and I'm going to gain knowledge from that experience. Think that the thought process of thinking, I don't know enough it, it's limiting, you don't have to know it all, because that's actually not your job as a mentor, you have a different experience to offer. And to suggest that there's nothing to be learned from your different experience is very much off base. selling yourself short, if you're assuming that there's not something that someone else can learn from your experience.

 

Alexandra Howson  40:31

I love that. So, for people listening, who are thinking about mentoring for whom that has crossed their minds, get over it and get out there. That's exactly right. Like, if you want to be mentored, and I think there are lots of us who, for whom that really surfaces as a need that as a desire at several different points across the life course, whether we're talking about careers, or occupations, our you know, life itself, of course, this is why the life coach coach industry has expanded, because we all need those kinds of touch points. In our lives, we all need access to people who explicitly stand up and say, I care. And let's create something out of that, for people who in this field, are looking for a mentor? How might we go about it.

 

Greselda Butler  41:36

So a lot of us are affiliated with the Alliance for continuing education in the health professions. They have a formal mentoring program, where you can volunteer to be a mentor. And if you're interested, I believe, excuse me, I believe Pam Mason leads it up. But you can just reach out to the Alliance and search on the website. And actually, the mentor program will come up. I also think to that folks are working in different areas of this industry. So, I'm in pharma, I belong to the healthcare Business women's Association, I need to understand the broader aspect of the environment in which I work. And so I need a different type of mentorship around that than I do around CPD. So definitely, you know, go to other places for that information, look for professional organizations. If you have hobbies, or you're interested in volunteering, and work with certain types of organizations, who's doing good work at those organizations that you admire, there are lessons from different aspects of your life that will apply to whatever you do. And so don't limit yourself to I need a mentor who's in my profession. I, you know, there are lessons to be learned from people with lived experiences that are different from your own. So, seek those out, don't limit yourself to Well, this person doesn't work in health care, education. Make sure you're looking around you be more thoughtful about who's in your environment, who have you heard or listened to that added value to what you do, where you walked away thinking maybe I could do something differently. Sometimes I get that from podcasts, I listened to your podcast a lot. Which has been it's been, you know, there are other podcasts in the field. I don't want to discredit anybody, but it's been a voice that's missing. If I may just be so blunt. And the types of guests you've had on have been so varied. But I've not had one episode where I thought, Oh, I didn't really get anything from that. I've gotten something from each and every one. And I think I hear people and I think oh, I wonder if I could reach out to them. And I have to tell you, I reached out to someone on your podcast. Like, Oh, this is so interesting. Maybe I don't know enough about this. Curiosity will push him in a lot of directions too. So, if you're curious about a subject, and you know, you don't know enough about it, reach out to people who you think might do some of the research. Sometimes there's work involved with being mentored, right. If you want a mentor, sometimes you have to do the work to seek out the right person. Especially because everyone is in a good fit. Yeah, maybe that's a topic we can discuss as part of this, but I've made some deliberate efforts. Reach out to certain people in my field that did not pan out. They either weren't interested in being a mentor, which is important, because if you're not interested, I'd rather you say, I don't have time. I can't commit to that. Or they weren't a good fit. Because maybe they thought they had to provide all the answers. And that's not really what I was looking for right now. So, I think it, you know, you do sometimes have to do the work if you're looking for a formal mentorship for a lot of professional programs will offer it. I know my unlucky I work for an employer who offers that. Like, do you want to be mentored by someone here? Is there someone you respect and admire, whether they're in your function or department? No? You know, here's a list of people who specifically said, I'd be happy to mentor other colleagues of mine. That has been huge for me, because it's helped me connect with people who work in completely different areas of business. And it showed me how interconnected we all were, despite the fact we have very different roles.

 

Alexandra Howson  46:12

Right. And that's really, that's really important, no matter what your work is to have that sense of not only where you fit in the whole kind of, you know, operation, but that interconnected piece, that there's a, you know, there's someone at the end of all this, who needs what you do. I'm conscious of our time, but I did want to follow up on as you said, about getting into to a little bit of how to see the signs if a mentor-mentee relationship isn't working. So, if we're talking about formal mentoring programs, you know, usually there is a matching process, and often that there's even, you know, some kind of contract, you know, this is what we're both signing up to. But if we're in an informal relationship, what are some of the red flags to look out for that if you're either a mentee, or a mentor might be saying. This is not a good fit? It's, it's time to wind this down?

 

Greselda Butler  47:22

Absolutely. So, I tend to think when either viewer lost interest in the relationship, you're not showing up for sort of regularly scheduled opportunities to connect, you're, you're not communicating effectively with one another anymore, meaning that you're not either timely in your communications or you're not forthcoming about a particular need, or ask from the other person, then you need to examine whether or not the relationship is serving either of you effectively. And it's okay to say that you may have outgrown relationship, maybe it's been a long-term process. And you as a mentor you want to give to someone else who maybe is at a different stage, maybe you feel like you've given most of what you have to the person you're currently mentoring. Or if you're a mentee, you can absolutely say, you know what, I've gotten a lot of what I can, can get from this relationship, and it's been beneficial. But I may need mentoring in a different area. And it might help that someone else with that particular area of expertise or lived experience could help more. If you feel a relationship is toxic, and that's any relationship, definitely excuse yourself from the situation. Politely don't burn bridges. But it's okay to say, you know what, oh, you know, I think this is this is, you know, served me up to a point and now I'm prepared to move forward. And I thank you, and move on. It's okay.

 

Alexandra Howson  49:09

Yeah. Are there things that you think there are off limits for mentoring relationships? In terms of things that we're going to focus on as part of this relationship? I guess I'm thinking mainly in, you know, you mentioned there's a mentoring program within your workplace setting. So, if there's a formal program and a workplace setting, there's certain things that you know, are controversial.

 

Greselda Butler  49:46

You know, what's interesting is if it if it's a formal mentoring program in a workplace setting, hopefully HR has the necessary parameters around it.  I think you have to be careful of getting to personal with colleagues, I think you may have great personal relationships with colleagues outside of work. But for a mentorship program, it can be really difficult when the personal crosses into professional and vice versa. It happens every day because you bring your full self to work, hopefully. And, yes, sometimes what's happening at home is going to impact the way you show up in a professional setting. But you, you really have to limit that to some degree because you don't want to place undue burden on either party. You don't want that to interfere with the ability to achieve your original goal, which is to help guide and support if you're the mentor and listen, you know, if you can listen, absolutely, listen. But if something makes you uncomfortable, state it clearly and set your boundaries early. Right. And if you're the mentee, don't feel that you don't have the right to set boundaries, set them, make it clear what you're there for, and what you hope to achieve. And, you know, few see red flags, are you concerned? You know, if you're, if you're not comfortable speaking up, you may just have to extract yourself from the situation.

 

Alexandra Howson  51:22

So that I feel like there are lots of different things that we could talk about here. And I think that setting boundaries has to be the topic of another conversation. Is there anything that we haven't touched on that is really important to you when thinking about mentoring?

 

Greselda Butler  51:41

I think the thing that we haven't touched on, you know, obviously, we're talking about a professional setting. And we did just mention about personal things, young people, nowadays, it seems more than ever could really benefit. mentorship. And it's not because they're not smart and not savvy. It's because they're almost forced to be entirely too savvy, and too aware, too soon. And I think young people in those positions often grow into adults that lack the kind of self-awareness and insight that can become problematic. I think there's always an opportunity to support young people. Even if they're just the young people in your life. I have lots of little people, some medium people. People, they're all my little people, nieces, nephews, got children. And one of the ways that I tried and mentor them is by never lecturing them. But I schedule little zoom calls, I don't know, 15 minutes, usually. And I get them off their phone. They're still on a screen, but we're looking at each other. And I just go What's going on? What's going on with you? And I asked them, what do you what do you think about this tweet, what's happening in your life, that's good with anything bad happening. We don't do that as adults very well. And when you don't see it modeled, you don't know how to do it. So that's, you know, that's just the reality. And so, I think the more we can start early, and never, you never have to use the word mentor when it comes to kids. They're not interested in terminology. They don't know that's what you're attempting to do, or that they just see it as someone who shows up for them and glistens in a way that is non-judgmental, and maybe offers a nugget or kernel of information, not advice. It's not up to you to take it to follow the path. Just so you know, this is the experience I had and this is how I handled it. So, I think if anything, mentorship can come from young people, old people, everyone in between, you can do it officially unofficially, formally, informally. Let's stop complicating it, right. And let's just make it normalized, since that's the word people are using. Let's normalize mentorship in all of its forms. normalizing mentorship presents about our everyday educator. Thank you. Thank you so much, Alex. This is so much fun. I love being in conversation with you. I miss being on the research committee with you but you're always teaching and educating through everything you do. So, I'm grateful for this podcast. Thank you for having this.

Why mentoring is important to Greselda
A story of being mentored
Mentoring defined
Owning your expertise
How to find mentoring opprtunities
How to find a mentor
How to exit a mentoring relationship
Key Take Aways