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Mentorship: Support to Make the Tough Decisions

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Katie Lavin (right) with her mentee Courtney Dornstein (left) at a Miranda Lambert concert.


At my first job, I was fortunate to have a role model who shared with me her career successes and failures, wisdom, network and life advice — an experience that has empowered my decisions since. Her words of support, guidance and sense of humor are still the foundation of what I pay forward.

Sharing Lessons Learned

In addition to gaining new values and perspective as a mentee, my mentoring relationships have helped me effectively and confidently navigate a myriad of experiences, particularly my growth as a manager and team leader. As I continued to advance, I started to volunteer for and seek out formal programs, such as WISE Within, where I was able mentor and share lessons learned.

The support system I have been creating proved crucial, as one of my mentors helped me make one of the hardest managerial decisions to date: letting someone go.

Trust is innate to any mentoring relationship, so I felt comfortable sharing real-life scenarios about a junior associate who was performing far below her job expectations. I did not want to jump to conclusions about her ability or begin to completely doubt my own as a manager; I needed help identifying the problem.

An Objective Perspective

Through open dialogue, my mentor provided an objective perspective. We explored what I could do to be a more effective manager who leads each individual to personal success. She gave me examples to help me better understand how to effectively evaluate an associate’s performance and pinpoint situations under which there is simply no other choice but to let someone go. When the time was right, she helped me determine which work situations warranted the attention of my boss and human resources and gave me talking points to best articulate the situation. I consulted my mentor for guidance throughout the entire process, which included extremely emotionally charged meetings.

Letting someone go is typically a taboo subject, and not everyone will go through this process. I was and still am fortunate enough to have the support of mentors to give me the outlet and wisdom necessary to do what is best for my associates, my agency, my team and myself — no matter how difficult the decision.


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