While sitting in a planning committee meeting for the Organizational Development Network of Western New York (ODN of WNY) a discussion about mentoring came up. There were 6 talented professionals sitting around a table having a discussion about mentoring, what it is, how to do it, successes, etc… Then it dawned on us, we are all describing mentoring differently; which was creating considerable frustration for me, because in my mind I know the one true definition. This is just my solipsistic belief.
Within the room there is well over 80 years of experience (combined) we all have worked internal as employees of large and small companies and several of us have worked as consultants & coaches to these same companies. Yet, all of us used mentoring in a different way.
This is a major obstacle that stands in the way of development for Management, Leadership and Organizational Development – the pile of ill-defined terms that litter the field (Jaques 1989)
For progress to be made in the science of Human Development & Leadership a clear set of terms and definitions must be shared used and agreed upon.
Which brings us to this weeks inquiry –
Is your managerial performance (insert any term of management science in here i.e. manager, supervisor, grade, level, matrix, bureaucracy) the same as mine?
- When a unclear term is used in a meeting, how do you ensure that every knows what is being shared?
- What steps has your organization taken to create shared vocabulary of management?
- What is an example of your definition of a common term (like mentoring) being understood to mean something different to the people you were talking to?
- Why does this happen? You all work in the same place, many of you went through the same training and have had the same executive management…how does this confusion continue?
- If the terms were universal (to your team) what would you be able to do more of?
- Knowing yourself, as well as you do right now-what is one thing you can do to clarify the meaning of terms used?
- In your management role when working with subordinates, what is one thing you can do to ensure that the terms being used are the same?
- Imagine what it would be like inside your organization once everyone had a shared understanding and knowledge of the terms used, and could speak objectively about the same thing. What would that be like?
- What is one step you can take to start better defining the words, concepts, ideas that are used by your team?
image by TheBusyBrain