We May Leave Our Managers, But We Stay for Our Peer Mentors (Friends) at Work

I bonded with Dale as soon I met him after my fait accompli interview process with the rest of the Executive Team.  Dale was the last interview on the schedule.  All of the prior interviews frankly did not meet the threshold for an employment interview.  Instead, they were meet-and-greet chats, e.g.:  “So the CEO has hired you for the HR team; nice to meet you;” or  “I understand the CEO is very impressed with your background;” or “Let me give you some advice about how to best work with the CEO.”

My soon-to-be new company did not have a Head of HR at the time I was interviewed / hired, and hadn’t had one for more than two years. I was recruited by the CEO as a Senior HR Manager to help bring their HR Department to the next level and to work with the CEO to recruit a new Head of HR.  While I knew that I would do a great job for my new company and I was honored to be hired directly by the CEO, I wanted the same due diligence performed for my candidacy as I performed as a Recruiter for the candidates I hired.  I wanted my strong skills, abilities and experience to be reviewed, validated and documented thoroughly so we could all start off in our work together on a high note.

As the Vice President of Loss Prevention, Dale did not disappoint.  “So,” Dale began, opening up his folder to my rèsumé, liberally highlighted and marked with his notes and questions, “Tell me about your union relations experience, and how would it benefit our company?”  I exhaled with relief and smiled at him.  “Thank you for interviewing me,” I replied.  “Please ask me all of your questions. If you have the time; I certainly do.  I want you and the CEO to get all of the information you need to feel completely comfortable with me in my role.”  Dale smiled back.  “Don’t worry, that’s my plan.”

Being in a compliance role in any organization, especially a new organization, is not the Miss Popularity job, to put it mildly.  So to have Dale as a colleague, peer mentor and eventual friend who was also in a key compliance role for the organization was a critical touchstone that absolutely contributed to my career and developmental success.  Dale broadened my business understanding and acumen tremendously as we accomplished our work together:  mergers, acquisitions, rolling out new programs like pre-employment drug testing, you name it.  Small but significant things, such as upon arrival for a site visit, to visit the bathroom first.  The tidiness – or chaos – of the bathroom more often than not indicated how well the site manager was doing their job.  Dale was also intensely curious about my area of subject-matter expertise, and it was my privilege and pleasure to share my HR / Recruiting / Change Management experience, strength and  hope in return.  It was a peer mentoring relationship that benefited both of us equally:  the type of work relationship flow that is pure business and career development gold.   Dale was a significant factor in the length of my tenure with the company. It’s the type of retention that CEOs with any smarts strive for.

Dale was subsequently promoted to an operations executive role; and currently, runs his own successful business.  All expected and well-deserved.  I had my first inkling of Dale’s abilities beyond his compliance role about a month into my tenure at the company’s national District Managers’ conference.  When Dale got up to speak on his topic, Loss Prevention, the entire group jumped to their feet spontaneously and gave Dale a standing ovation.  Part of it was in recognition for the company’s great shrink performance; but really, it was all for Dale:  they saw him truly as their business partner and leader, not just the head compliance guy enforcing the rules.

Me, too.

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