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Bad mentoring for job stability

Bad mentoring for job stability

Bad mentoring for job stability

Hi all, wanted to get some fellow opinions on this.

I recently was laid off by a company and saw newer, lower paid engineers who made it past the cut while older engineers were cut. I was rehired the same company but different facility in a different state. I am the only engineer on site here but we have an intern that they plan on hiring after his graduation. As the title states, I have not been the best mentor because I am scared of getting laid off and getting replaced. I answer all his questions but never share more than that as I do not want to get replaced. This is a probably a poor mindset but I work at a very large company where you are more of a number than anything. This is the industry (hobby/leisure) I want to be in the most but the only company with an opening. I feel as if even though I was a better engineer, this company would choose a lower salary to keep on board over anything else. Should I change my approach to this and be a better mentor as I have experienced in the past? Is it okay to keep going on this way? I've been thinking about this for many weeks and I feel bad about it but the fear of getting laid off/replaced is still fresh in my mind.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability


If your job is to mentor your intern, you should do it properly.

The answer to your question is wildly dependent on office politics. Do you trust your managers? Should you have trusted the managers at the last place you worked?


RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Quote (As the title states, I have not been the best mentor because I am scared of getting laid off and getting replaced. I answer all his questions but never share more than that as I do not want to get replaced. This is a probably a poor mindset but I work at a very large company where you are more of a number than anything.)

You might want to look for other employment.

Even as a young engineer, I couldn't function in that environment, and as an older guy moreso.

At my last place, we used to have mandatory 'password changes'... every couple of months. The IT guy used to get annoyed because I put the new password on a yellow sticky attached to the bottom of my monitor. I didn't like the idea that I could be working at a place where a password was actually needed.

He was also annoyed that I used my laptop rather than the company hardware... I'd upload my work at the end of the day. The IT dept was a profit centre, and they made more profit if they provided junk hardware...

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates


RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

dik - what are you worried about with one (1!) work password?? Sheesh! At the last big aerospace company I worked for I had probably 30-40 different accounts with different passwords (because they all had different required change intervals); I kept a spreadsheet and printout with all of the passwords as there is no way I would ever remember them all. And many of the accounts would not let you reuse a password that had been used previously (even a decade ago). So my passwords became XXXXX01, XXXXX02, etc.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

to the OP,
a) agree with above, start looking for a new job at a new company,
b) be as good of a mentor as you can be; it will pay back for you in the long run, as you will build a network of people that you have helped, which helps with a) above.

good luck.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability


This plant was running with only one manufacturing engineer and the intern has been here for two years. I am the first mechanical engineer on site so our work is different. It was never stated that it is my job to be his mentor but I believe he looks up to me and is interested in the work I do.

I do not trust management and I believe I made a mistake trusting management in the past. Again, I feel bad for not treating him as my seniors did but the company is doing so poorly from manufacturing too much product during covid. So it is a bit scary working somewhere with possibly not enough funding to run on normal operations.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

dik & SWComposites -

I really really really enjoy the fishing industry. It is my biggest passion in life and it is a load fun to work in the industry. I really do not want to leave it, even if it may be volatile. This might be a dumb take, as a young and passionate engineer.

I have been on the hunt to stay in the industry but jobs are few are far in this industry.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

ok, understandable wanting to work in an industry that you have a passion for.
then, make it a longer term project to find different employment. start (or continue) networking in the industry; go to trade shows, fishing tournaments, etc; talk to lots of people and find out the good companies to work for; discuss your skills/experience/interests. often job opportunities are not posted but are found by word of mouth; or companies will create a position for someone who they like and could help them.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Quote (So my passwords became XXXXX01, XXXXX02, etc.)

That's what I did... started out as Dik12345@ (needed 8 digits, a cap, and a symbol) and the next one was @Dik12345, and so on... rotating the text by a single letter each time... For places that require passwords, I rely on my password manager... and make a new copy of it when I log onto a new site that requires it.

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates


RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

If you mentor the younger staff, they often move on to other adventures and don't challenge for your position.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability


I feel bad about it but the fear of getting laid off/replaced is still fresh in my mind.

You feel bad because of your guilt from not doing the job they are paying you for. Jobs are almost purely transactional these days, the only trust you should have is they will pay you on time with real money. I'm not sure that getting a new job will help that much, since it sounds like you have a mild case of PTSD, and there's no getting around that. You have to deal with the fear; you landed on your feet at what sounds like a not unreasonable job, so that should give you the confidence that you can survive any future systemic shocks.

Concurrently, you ought not naively proceed as if you are in the Garden of Eden; even Adam and Eve got kicked out of that place. Trust must be earned and I rarely trust anyone more than 2 levels above me, although, it's clear than even general managers can get blindsided. A previous general manager who was intellectually smart, but not politically smart got his division stolen from under him, because even he wasn't paying attention to what mattered. At another job, we had 9 general managers in 5 years, and only two of them were politically astute and survivors, but that entailed being ruthless and not loyal to their own workers.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Dick move. Sorry for being blunt.

You are taking your beef with management out on an entry level engineer. Your commitment to do the bare minimum could absolutely affect that individual for the rest of their career.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Your glass is half empty. Help the youngling be succesful. If you get the ax, it could lead to the best job you ever had. Who knows? I prefer being positive, than negative. It's better for you.

Good Luck,

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

A few thoughts based on personal experience in no particular order:
1. Mentoring junior engineers will have zero impact on your salary but will help increase theirs, so if salary truly is the layoff metric then you'd be better off being a good mentor.
2. Both mentors and those who refuse to mentor juniors are recognized as such by both junior engineers and management. Not mentoring juniors may cause you to end up on the layoff list with management viewing you as anti-social, lazy, or otherwise negatively. Today's junior engineer may also be your supervisor in a few years.
3. I wouldn't assume senior layoffs were a cost-cutting measure. To change a lousy/lazy/antiquated culture companies often have to cut senior staff bc they refuse to embrace change, whereas younger/newer staff are more open to new processes/tools/etc. Senior staff also often lack a necessary breadth of experience bc they haven't worked elsewhere in XX years so haven't seen how more modern companies function.
4. With the exception of folks in govt or at/very-near retirement today, engineers are expected to job-hop every 3-5 years to maintain a decently broad and deep knowledge base, and to maximize their income and benefits. At a mega-corp you may be able to bounce within the same company's various locations for 10-15 years, but even they expect you to go elsewhere after a few hops. Trying to work an entire career in one company, one location, one niche, or even one small industry will have a major impact on your paycheck bc it gives the appearance that you're either foolish or a lousy engineer. Reapplying to an employer that laid you off without a solid few years elsewhere does the same.

Given everything posted, I would recommend becoming a good mentor and polishing the resume for your next job hop.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

I concur with all others who have said be a good mentor. I get the feeling from your post that the effort of resisting mentoring is weighing on you and that speaks to the goodness of you and your ethics. Understandably you have been bitten by your previous job loss and this has you defensive. Totally normal and nothing to fret over. As has been stated by others, bad mentoring is noticed by management and by those receiving the mentoring. If staff reductions ever became necessary, those with negative attitudes stand out in a bad way. Purposefully doing bad mentoring takes more effort than doing what you would be proud of - your best effort for all tasks. Negativity is toxic and will eat you from the inside. Good luck with your work at your present employer. Stay positive on all tasks - you fish for bass - keep a line in the water!

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Another vote for being a good mentor. Never let a work environment change who you are inside. At my last employer, I went out of my way to help folks get work done or train up. Helped land new work even though it wasn't in my job description. Brought a couple of areas of expertise into the firm and helped cultivate them into lines of work that now have staffs and national-directors-that-are-not-me.

Then I left the firm, lol. Not because of being slighted, but only because I wanted to dial it down and enjoy my Third Act (one-man consulting firm with a peach orchard).

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

As someone already said, your today's mentored intern might be your tomorrow's manager. It happened to me. I started as an intern and had a mentor that at the time had kids older than myself.
He took me under his wing and taught me a lot.
A couple years later there was a split on my department and I was promoted to leader of one of the sections. That mentor became my right hand man. I never had to go through a layout process on that company, but that would be the last guy that I would fire.

Just my 5 cents.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Some companies treat employees as numbers. It's their culture, or at least their business practices. In those environments there is little point to doing anything other than what will provide you near-term material benefit. So in other words, don't get emotionally invested and acknowledge the job is transactional. I'm not sure how I would fare working for a company that makes decisions about my job based strictly on a filtered spreadsheet of salaries, but I know I wouldn't feel guilty treating them transactionally in return. Sometimes it's complicated when middle management does care, recognizes things, but the layoffs happen without their input.

I guess the big question is: is your manager unhappy with your mentoring? Is it on their radar? Is it a goal in your HR development system? Did your intern co-worker ask for mentorship? If none of those answers is yes, then don't worry about it. I would answer all questions the intern asks but I wouldn't go out of my way. Some companies don't realize that mentoring is crucial in engineering and if they don't, they'll probably never care.

'Passion' industry jobs can be toxic. My girlfriend worked for part of a career in theater production, both doing regional productions and theater education. The people there want to succeed in theater so badly that the job pay and workload is awful and it's still competitive to get hired.

If you have useful, unique skills in both bass fishing and engineering, it can't hurt to reach out to other companies to let them know you exist and will work hard if given a good opportunity. Maybe they are looking for a position like yours and don't know a candidate like you is out there.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Thank everyone for the comments and advice. I will work toward being a better mentor. I guess it will just take time to get over the past and start fresh. Hopefully I can come to some internal conclusion soon and move on.

Brian Malone-
Thank you a lot for this. It was nice hearing this as I was not intentionally trying to sabotage or be a "dick" but rather be more reserved about the situation.

My manager is actually happy at all about the situation as I am the only "traditional" engineer who could pass on some knowledge that others couldn't previously. Otherwise the answer is no for all else. I feel bad as I am not doing what my senior engineers have done for me previously. How do you go about reaching out for a position that's not available? Send in an email to the company, reach out to HR, or is there a better way to go about it?

Thanks to everyone again for your input. Some good opinions and information to digest here. It has helped push me in the right direction.

Side note: I also supposed a more accurate title for the thread would be Subpar mentoring. I have not gone out of my way to be a bad mentor but only do the minimum. Also not great and will be changing this for the better.

Some advice I hear a lot from Steve Rogers Outdoors that I should take closer to heart.
"Make sure you go out and encourage somebody today, you never know how you might just change their life"

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Quote (bassmasterclassic)

How do you go about reaching out for a position that's not available? Send in an email to the company, reach out to HR, or is there a better way to go about it?

I can't say I've tried and succeeded at this. My jobs so far have come from responding to a job posting.

First, dig deeply for any possible job posting. Look on their corporate website, the classifieds of their local newspaper, or other job sites. Many companies don't post jobs on internet-wide job sites.

Writing to HR can't hurt, but I would assume it won't lead to anything. The modern HR department has evolved to avoid hiring people based on fit, and more to filter the biggest number of applicants through the same (pointless and time-wasting) application process. I'm sure that's related to liability, but the outcome is unethical treatment of applicants and their time and less qualified hires because it becomes an exercise in desperation instead of mutual benefit. /rant

If nothing comes up, I'd then do some googling and try to find articles published by / about their team, to get names of people you would want to work for or with, then contact them directly and politely using anything from a phone call to linkedin message. It would not be appropriate to drop in, unless it was a trade show, factory tour, or other environment where they are expecting to spend time with the public. If you can't find names, maybe your favorite tackle shop will give you their sales rep's names and those sales reps might give you a name to contact on the inside. Above all, be professional and respectful of their time.

Good luck,


RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

Quote (bassmasterclassic)

How do you go about reaching out for a position that's not available?

You need to know the decision makers, or at least people who can influence them. Do you have trade shows or conferences within your niche? If so, make a point to attend all of them and build your network. Let them know you exist and that you're hungry for better work (without making yourself look desperate). They may drop a hint like "if only we had somebody who can do X" that gives you an opening to say "I'm very familiar with that and have some ideas. I'm interested in this, this, and that about your company. Maybe we could talk about it sometime." Or they may call you and let you know that they have an opening for you before they advertise.

Cold calling and spamming everyone with your resume is okay for new grads, but an experienced engineer should have a network to leverage. If they don't, it's a red flag.

RE: Bad mentoring for job stability

How do you go about reaching out for a position that's not available?
As mentioned above - network, network, network.
Find your peers in other companies via trade shows, conferences, LinkedIn, friends in the industry - make relationships and talk to them about their companies needs, etc.
Cold calling doesn't work well, and HR is typically to be avoided at all costs (they are NOT your friend).

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