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IEEE-USA Issues Fourth Book in Series; a New Approach to Mentoring

By Paul Lief Rosengren

The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials – Book 4: Mentorship

FREE to IEEE Members
Non-Members: $2.99

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IEEE-USA has released Dr. Terence Yeoh’s fourth e-book in his Ultimate Upgrade Essentials series. The book, The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials Book 4: Mentorship, builds on earlier ones in the series that dealt with the human condition, self-assessments and finding your path.

The core of the fourth book involves Yeoh’s experience with, and critique of, common mentoring programs as well as his own alternative, “Compact Mentoring.”  He starts by contrasting traditional apprenticeships with modern-day mentoring — pointing out that while apprenticeships expect an individual to learn from observing a master craftsperson, mentorship puts the onus on executives to convey their knowledge. Further, Yeoh feels most mentoring programs miss the mark: “In today’s society, mentorship is targeted; short lived; and focused on making introductions, rather than learning deep tradecraft.”

The author believes that mentoring programs, while often a selling point for recruitment, are rarely as successful as hoped — losing steam quickly after a big launch, and often cancelled entirely — in short order. Unfortunately, he asserts, most mentoring program are “built for show and not stability.”

From his experience Yeoh concludes a mentor program should be efficient (available time is sparse for both the mentee and mentor), scalable, and beneficial for both participants. He then makes the case for what he calls “Compact Mentoring.”

With compact mentoring, there are just three 30-minute meetings. Each meeting is proceeded with “homework,” first completed by the mentor. He/she then shares it with the mentee who can use it as a template; then share it prior to the meeting.

The homework consists of:

  • First meeting — write an executive bio
  • Second, meeting — prepare a 360-SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of current position
  • Third meeting — complete a personality profile

Yeoh believes the homework allows a mentor to focus the 30-minute meetings on suggestions, big picture direction, and specific next steps. (Note: Yeoh extensively covers personality profiles and SWOT analysis in earlier books in this series.)

One benefit of using this model is that it is easily scalable. Mentors can take on additional mentees with little effort (their homework is already complete). They also get the real benefit, with little time invested, of identifying new, talented employees they can place in their organization, in the future.

Additionally, mentees have the resources (Bio, SWOT Assessment and Personality Profile) to turn around and “Compact Mentor” other individuals in their organizations.

Yeoh also draws on his own experience of being certified as a Project Management Professional, to illustrate that one should always be building new skills and acquiring broad knowledge. Interestingly, the author points out he only strives to master approximately 90 percent of most new areas — as he wants to become a “deep generalist” — able to make connections between areas. He stresses, however, “Being a deep generalist is not a jack of all trades, but a jack with the ability to become a king (or an ace), if needed.”

Yeoh asserts that many executives are “jerks.” They succeed by forcing organizations to move quickly and explore uncharted waters. But they do not bring their staff along — neither allowing them to actively participate in strategic positioning, nor giving them credit for success. He believes executives’ goals need to grow beyond this process — and become a servant leader. While various writers give this term different meanings, Yeoh’s views a servant leader as “one who is both gregarious and solitary — one who wields both power and weakness; and one who accepts anonymity, or the spotlight, comfortably.”

The author also touches on on failure, and how you need to carve out recuperative rest after completing a goal (or failing to complete one).

This book is particularly valuable for anyone who is trying to start, or expand a mentoring program — or finds their current mentoring experience is not living up to expectations.

Yeoh’s The Ultimate Upgrade Essentials Book 4: Mentorship is available for free for IEEE members at IEEE-USA’s online shop as are his first three books in the Ultimate Upgrade Essential series. Non-members can download the books for $2.99 each.

An IEEE Senior Member, Dr. Terence Yeoh has been a technical and career development contributor to IEEE since 1999. He has held a variety of career roles in systems engineering, R&D portfolio management, program management and corporate strategy. Yeoh holds eleven patents in such areas as infrared microscopy, compressive sensing and artificial intelligence. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, writing code, and driving his Mustang.

Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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