Management Style and Mentor Relationship Reflection

Guest Blog by ELP Student Tom Kidd – Information Science – School of Information – Class of 2018

 

My summer in the Michigan Medicine Development Office has been enjoyable and a genuine opportunity to grow as a person and professional. Above all else, the people I have met and worked with will be the most memorable part.

 

One of my goals going into this internship was to spend time developing a close relationship with a mentor. Thinking back to my internship last summer, my previous mentor was very hands-off and allowed me to create my own goals, deadlines, and projects. Although this management style was something I wanted, I do not think I was prepared for the amount responsibility that came with so much freedom. I left my internship last summer wondering why I didn’t receive more guidance. After some reflection, I realized it was more my fault for not taking the initiative. I should have made it a priority to develop that relationship with my mentor and use them as a resource. Building relationships can take a lot of work and it’s not my mentor’s responsibility to build it, it’s mine. Initiative and freedom in a job must be, in a way, directly proportional.

 

This summer, my mentor’s management style has been similar to what I experienced in the past, but the way I responded to that style has been much different and has produced much better results.

 

My go to person in Michigan Medicine is Jennifer. At this stage, she is hands-off and gives me a ton of oversight on the project and the project’s goals. Unlike my relationship with my mentor last summer, I make a point of meeting with her almost daily. I get to decide how I spend my time, but I actively seek her out to talk about the barriers I encounter and the problems that are holding me and the project back. I also use her as a resource to navigate the office bureaucracy and chain of command. When asked, she has been great at connecting me with people in the office that can help me.

 

In my opinion, a management style is as much a product of a relationship as a relationship is a product of a management style. There is mutual dependence between the two. For example, the first few days in the office, Jennifer checked-in on me more than I went over to speak with her. But with time, I feel that I gained her trust by meeting with her, taking the initiative and following through on promises and goals. In turn, her management style is more relaxed compared to the beginning. On the other hand, if her management style was overbearing or too far in the opposite direction, our relationship may have taken a different form.

 

Thinking back to the start of this summer, I was unsure what management styles I preferred. I couldn’t determine if my much less than perfect performance a summer prior was due to an incompatible style of management or a lack of initiative on my end.

 

Reflecting again, I know it was the latter. I also now know how rewarding freedom and oversight can be as long as I am prepared to hold myself accountable and actively seek out guidance and mentorship from people around me. Although I believe I grew professionally between my last internship and this one, I have still made mistakes this summer and hope to learn from those in a similar way…for future positions.