WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS: OPENNESS

I always struggle with relationships. I have a hard time empathizing and I always approach people on an intellectual level with an almost complete disregard for emotions. That always ends up alienating people and making me come off as cold, which I sometimes brush off and call it pragmatism. But for the sake of being open, I have to say that all of this further complicates the already complex dance of office friendships, politics and interactions.

At this stage of my professional life, part of my job requires me to supervise, mentor and even inspire younger designers and that has proven to be more challenging than any other part of my career. I always try to have a close-knit team on a casual and trusting environment with a “have each other’s back” attitude. I like the team to have fun but work comes first for me. I feel like I haven't found the sweet spot between being close and familiar with my subordinates where they become too comfortable and being too distant where it might seem that I only care about the work and not the people. It saddens me to say that I've seen a couple of talented and promising designers go without really reaching their potential. I take it as a defeat and I assume responsibility for my failure to help them see what I believe to be things they need to improve to reach the next level. At the same time, I can't help but wonder if it's really my fault when things don't work out. Is it the millennial mentality of entitlement and instant gratification which stands in the way (although I'm technically a millennial)? Are my high standards against the "participation awards" mentality?

At this point I don't know. What I know is that I feel like I've failed as a mentor and I hope one day I get it right, because no one teach you how to be a parent and being in a supervising/mentoring role is a parenting job of sorts. In any case, I'm writing this as an open-ed to the world for it to be an entry on my career's journal with the hopes of expanding it, finding some learning and maybe connect with all of you out there who struggle daily with this as well.