One comment I’ve heard at work that drives me crazy is being called someone’s den mother, or “The Mother of the Interns”. In fact, unless I gave birth to you, I’m NOT your mother. I may be a mentor, or manager, supervisor, or leader. I may be many things, but please don’t insult me by calling me a den mother.
I think that when we manage people, especially people who are entering the work force for the first time, they can require a lot of hands-on training. They require feedback, and praise. Add in some generational dynamics about how different generations work, and the entire process can be quite time consuming, and occasionally draining. I spend a lot of time mentoring, and getting people focusing on the right things, and helping kick start their careers. I focus on helping new hires establish habits that will enable them to be successful. Those habits include things like letting me know when they are running low on items to do, and asking for more work, to regularly sending status, and making sure that I know what they’re working on at all times.
I try to teach a variety of different skills, like saying “no” when their plates are full, as well as sending status that conveys an appropriate amount of information to management. This does not make me their mother, no matter that I do have four children of my own, I’m really not in the business of signing up to adopt everyone that goes by. They’re not orphans. They have parents of their own. It is a professional environment. To call me their mother demeans what I do, and the value that I add to the organization.
So, please do call me mentor, manager, supervisor, and possibly even awesome. Don’t call me “mom” unless I gave birth to you, okay?