Mentee to Mentor

By Michelle Coutu

I’ve been meeting with my mentor for almost three years now, and we have now reached a point where we need to once again decide if we should continue our mentoring relationship or part ways. In the past it was always an easy decision–there were resumes to write, CIH preparations to tackle and professional relationships to navigate. This year is different, the decision doesn’t seem as clear cut. With the help and guidance of my mentor I’ve been able to accomplish all my goals and feel more confident in navigating problems when they arise.

Does this mean that I am done with being a mentee?

No, throughout my academic and early career I can name multiple people that I have turned to for guidance and I’m sure that there will be even more along the way. I am looking forward to more formal and informal opportunities to learn from others.

Does this mean that I am ready to be a mentor to someone else? 

Maybe, everyone is at different stages in their career and we all have support and guidance to give no matter where we are. The hardest part will be determining if you have the self-assurance to share what you have learned (which may come with time).

Every Mentee-Mentor relationship is different and each relationship will run its course in due time but that doesn’t mean the friendship or learning is over. It can be an opportunity for personal growth, exploring other interests, or finding another mentor. Mentoring is a continuous process that is designed to help people grow and foster new skills. Only you will know when that transition to the next step will occur but don’t be afraid of it when it does.

Mentoring Corner Discussion Topic: Professional Objectives

By Tim Paz

The mentoring pair should discuss what the professional objectives are for the mentee in the next 3, 5 or 10 years.  In which professional sector do they currently practice?  Do they want to move to another sector, such as federal government, academia, etc.?  The mentor should discuss their career journey to get the dialogue moving.  How did they find out about the field of industrial hygiene and how did they make the move into IH as a career field?  What organizations have they worked for and in what business sectors?  Have they been EHS generalists or strictly practitioners of IH?  Help the mentee map out a plan of action to get to the desired end point.  If they want to get into the federal government, consider reaching out to someone working at a federal agency such as NIOSH, OSHA, NIH, CDC, etc.  What were the career choices that person made to get to their position within the federal government.  A career coach once had me list everything I liked and disliked about every job I’ve ever had.  This is a valuable exercise and was very eye opening for me.  What skills do you use when you’re doing the things you enjoy?  Have you considered expanding your practice to other EHS disciplines such as environmental, safety or fire protection?  Again, find the people who work in the field you are interested in or working at the places you are hoping to get hired on at, and speak to them about their career journey.

In summary, what are your ideal plans and goals?  My advice is to set personal and professional goals annually.  Review them at mid-year and at the end or beginning of each and every year.

December: Prioritizing Your Work – And other Topics

This month is a mish mash of topics focusing on soft skills that will help the mentee in their IH role.

 

Prioritizing Your Work

 

Here is a free webinar for prioritizing and planning your calendar:  http://www.mcgheepro.com/media/TBYL-ERS-M3-PrioritizingCal-0024/ that the mentor/mentee should review if they have time ahead of their 1:1 meeting.

 

I recommend setting time on your calendar for a weekly review (one hour).  In fact, the mentee is encouraged to copy and paste the Weekly Review steps below into a recurring meeting on their calendar.  I recommend Thursday afternoon or first thing on Friday morning.

 

Three Steps for a Weekly Review

1.         Processing and organizing your collection points.

  • Empty Your Head.  Create Outlook tasks for any outstanding items that you recall.
  • Empty All Your Collecting Points (folders, papers, notebooks, sticky notes, voice messages, emails, etc.)
  • Eliminate any leaks in your Collecting System.
  • Review last week’s calendar and reschedule items that did not get completed.
  • Review the coming week for items that require preparation for and create strategic next actions.

2.         Reviewing and prioritizing your planning categories (meaningful objectives, supporting projects and 1:1 meetings)

  • Go through each Meaningful Objective, establish current status and create SNA’s (30,000 foot view that keeps you strategic).
  • Go through each Supporting Project, establish current status and create strategic next actions (SNA’s) or “tasks” .  Ask yourself, what can I do in the next week or two to move this project forward?
  • Go through each 1:1 category (Outlook Task Categories you have created for your boss, co-workers, etc.), establish current status and create SNA’s.

3.         Prioritizing and planning your action categories on to your calendar.

  • Determine time frame for scheduling calendar (i.e. one week or two weeks in advance).
  • Review all SNA categories and delete those items that are completed.
  • Prioritize remaining SNA’s.
  • Move items from the Task Pad into the calendar.
  • If it’s worth doing, it’s worth putting on your calendar.
  • 75% greater chance of actions getting done, if on your calendar.
  • Renegotiate those commitments you can’t keep.
  • Make your weekly review a priority.

 

Recommended source:  Take Back Your Life:  Using Microsoft Outlook 2007 to Get Organized and Stay Organized by Sally McGhee and John Wittry.

 

Work Life Balance

I recommend using the same strategy for creating meaningful business goals and objectives back in February for setting personal goals.  Some suggestions for areas of focus might include:

Area of Focus 1:  Career

Meaningful Objective:  Update Resume

Meaningful Objective:  Start Searching for a New Job

Meaningful Objective:  Participate in AIHA’s Mentoring Program

Area of Focus 2:  Finances

Meaningful Objective:  Increase 401k Contribution

Meaningful Objective:  Decrease debt by x%

Area of Focus 3: Spiritual

Area of Focus 4: Fitness

Area of Focus 5: Health/Medical

Area of Focus 6: Home/Around the House

Area of Focus 7: Community Service/Giving to Others

Area of Focus 8: Leisure/Travel

 

When you have your weekly review for your professional life, consider using this time to also review your personal objectives.  Additionally, consider having a weekend retreat with your spouse, partner or a close friend (or yourself) to reflect on the goals accomplished the prior year and to start capturing the new goals and objectives for the coming year.

 

 

TED Talk

Nigel Marsh:  How to make work-life balance work.

http://www.ted.com/talks/nigel_marsh_how_to_make_work_life_balance_work?language=en

 

 

Customer Feedback

The mentor should encourage the mentee to take the approach of providing world class support and services.  Try to far exceed the expectations of the customer.  Just don’t try to meet the customer’s expectations; aim high!   If your customers don’t like the services you are providing, they may go elsewhere and that’s not a position you want to be in.  The best way to gauge customer satisfaction is with a survey.  If the mentor doesn’t have a formal customer feedback program at work, help them develop a survey to send to their key customers.  Here’s a sample format (below) that I once used in the form of a word document that I emailed to about 20 internal and external customers at the end of the year.  It is also attached as a Word document.  Try and select a random sampling of individuals you have work with who are considered your best customers and some you think may not have been completely satisfied with some of your prior work.  The idea is to try to avoid skewing the results one way or the other (positively or negatively).  If you send your survey to only people you are friends with, there’s a good chance you won’t get much in the way of useful feedback.  Once you have the results, work with your mentor (if you maintain the relationship) to find specific ways to improve on those areas of weakness.

 

 

You have been identified as someone I have worked with since the beginning of the year.  I would like to solicit your feedback on my performance.  I would ask that you spend no more than 5 to 10 minutes on this.  Please rate my performance in the area of using a 1-10 scale with 10 being the highest score:

 

  • Quality of Work:               1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

Comments:

 

 

 

  • Dependability:                 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

 

Comments:

 

 

 

 

  • Team Work:                       1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

 

Comments:

 

 

 

  • Communication:               1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

 

Comments:

 

 

 

Or if it’s easier for you, just type a couple of sentences.  Please forward them to me via email.  I welcome positive, negative and neutral comments.  If you wish to remain anonymous, please print this email and send it back to me via inter-office mail with your comments.  I thank you in advance.  I am attaching my self-assessment for your review.

The AIHA Mentoring and Professional Development Committee (MPDC) is Looking for Mentors!

The MPDC is making looking for mentors for students.  An immediate need is for the UT-Houston School of Public Health, who just started up a new AIHA Student Local Section.  If you are able to mentor please send an email to:  aiha.southregion.mentor@gmail.com or mentor@aiha.org

Mentoring Corner: Understanding Unique Operations

By Tim Paz

Unique operations found at either person’s site to enable the mentee to gain in understanding strategies for hazard analysis as well as to expand their background in process reviews. The mentor should help the mentee with a unique hazard or operation at their facility.  If the mentee does not have one, then they should use one from the mentor’s facility or something from one of their previous jobs.  Develop a background of the operation or process focusing on what makes this hazard unique.  Use basic characterization and information gathering by using walkthroughs of your facility.  Develop a method (or methods) for assessing the hazard.  Determine what evaluation criteria you will use in the assessment of the chemical and/or physical agents.

Mentoring Corner: Discussion Topics – Balanced scorecard, emphasis on leading metrics, what will drive continuous improvement?

By Tim Paz

What does a world class EHS program look like?  How do you go about integrating EHS management into business performance?  Many large EHS organizations use scorecards emphasizing on leading indicators to drive continuous improvement.  Think of a way that the mentee can propose a new project that will help their EHS organization implement an Occupational Health and Safety Management System, or some other new initiative, such as Annual Respiratory Protection Program Evaluations, based on measuring some kind of outcome.

  1. Clearly define your program, project.
  2. Quantitatively measure conformance.
  3. Enable consistent broad-based action.
  4. Feedback loop for results.

Helpful resources…

http://www.thecampbellinstitute.org/file/download.php?id=20121019de46c68f994d1afbf7df7fd5a4df7905

http://www.industrialhygiene.com/pdf/Digital_Dashboards_Large_and_Small.pdf

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic746473.files/Supplemental%20Reading%20Folder/Leading%20Indicators%20Final.pdf

Mentoring Corner: Discussion Topics – NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations

By Tim Paz

The mentoring pair should read the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation entitled, “Evaluation of Health Effects of a Chlorine Gas Release in a Poultry Processing Plant –– Arkansas.”   

What were your impressions of the report?  Do you agree with the findings?  Does your facility/organization have literacy or language considerations in terms of labeling of chemicals and signage?  Are there any takeaways/lessons learned from this report that you can apply to your organization?

 

The mentoring pair may wish to find another HHE that is more applicable to their place of employment or interests.  Use the “Search HHE Reports” utility to find another HHE for this month’s 1:1.  You can search using any key word or phrase.  http://www2a.cdc.gov/hhe/search.asp.  For example, by entering “police lead”, you will get 20 results based on this particular search criteria.  Have a meaningful discussion about the HHE.  What did NIOSH do as part of this HHE?  What were the findings?  What can employers and workers do to mitigate the hazards recognized?