Archive for December, 2013

Do mentors teach?

Posted on: December 31st, 2013 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Do mentors teach?

Yes, mentors teach! However, they do so not in the traditional mode of teachers but on a one-to-one basis involving the following:

  • Model behavior for the mentoree as to how to act in a given situation.
  • Inform the mentoree through information sharing or skill development.
  • Confirm information that the mentoree possesses for accuracy, completeness and usefulness.
  • Prescribe a course of action for the mentoree to follow when the mentoree is exploring an unfamiliar area and needs guidance.
  • Question the mentoree using the familiar “Active Listening” model, asking “Who? What? Why?” as a way of fully exploring an issue. Providing the answer is probably the least important aspect of a mentor’s responsibilities to his/her mentoree.  It’s in traveling the journey that the most valuable learning occurs.

3 important reasons to have a mentor during critical phases in your career

Posted on: December 24th, 2013 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

You should have a mentor at each critical phase of your career. Mentoring is a critical process when undergoing career transitions such as:

  • Graduating and moving into your first job
  • Changing jobs or careers
  • Changing companies
  • Being "deselected" (laid off or fired)

3 important reasons to have a mentor during critical phases in your career are:

  1. Technical advances such as the computer are requiring workers to remain current and “leading edge” in their competencies which leads to a new employer-employee paradigm grounded more in a client-consultant relationship.
  2. These advances and changed employer-employee relationship will require employees to have access to varying expertise in order to package themselves differently within this changing employment marketplace.
  3. Mentoring is a critical strategy within this fluctuating marketplace by linking you with others who have the expertise and knowledge you may need to keep your career competitive. For this reason, find a mentor early on in your career.

What is strategic mentoring?

Posted on: December 17th, 2013 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

strategic mentoring

Over the last two weeks, we have written about both informal mentoring and formal mentoring.

There is much debate among scholars about formal and informal mentoring.  Some theorists argue that a true mentoring relationship cannot be systematically created because it is fundamentally an informal, interpersonal relationship of such depth that it is rare. These scholars frequently resort to myth and emotional language in describing mentoring which only adds to its aura of mysteriousness and inaccessibility.  In essence, what they seem to be saying is, “If it happens to you it will be powerful and very beneficial; if it doesn’t, you can only wish for it.” 

The counter argument is that formal mentoring, like any relationship, can be established provided one understands what a mentoring relationship is and proceeds with a sense of integrity and professionalism.

A third model emerges which is a combination of both and which I refer to as  “strategic mentoring”.  Strategic Mentoring features elements of both informal and formal mentoring. Strategic Mentoring is created and structured by the mentoree to harness the power of mentoring to achieve specific career and professional goals.  Unlike informal mentoring which is mentor generated, in strategic mentoring, the mentoree actively seeks out a prospective mentor taking into consideration how important the issue of “chemistry” is and determining one’s own level of comfort.  Unlike formal mentoring, in strategic mentoring, your goals are what define the relationship but you create a structure in which you and the mentor will work together to achieve identified goals. In summary, strategic mentoring combines the relational aspects of informal mentoring with the structured aspect of formal mentoring to create a kind of hybrid

Mentoring: Leveling the Playing Field

Posted on: December 10th, 2013 by Mentoring Matters Blog presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Both the presence of power and the feeling of powerlessness can negatively impact a mentoring relationship. And, when it does, it results in conflict, withdrawal, inauthenticity, and unproductive posturing. This is why it is critical that the mentor creates a safe and welcoming space that gives the mentee permission to be authentic, vulnerable and honest.

What are some of the things you can do to level the playing field for a mentee who feels he has no power in the relationship?

First base: Set ground rules at the beginning of the relationship. Ground rules lay the foundation for the relationship and become yardsticks for mutual accountability throughout the relationship. Engage your mentee in creating these ground rules. It will give him an immediate sense of ownership in the relationship. Setting ground rules is even more important in cross-cultural and distance mentoring relationships where the opportunity for misunderstanding is great.

Second base: Check in often with your mentees. Find out how the relationship is going for them and let them know what is working for you and what is not. Benchmark your progress against your goals. Use your ground rules as a yardstick to evaluate how well the relationship is working. Talk about how you are spending your mentoring time. Is the time you are spending productive? Are there things you should be spending more time on? Less time?

Third base: Ask powerful questions. Questions engage the mentee. It is tempting to use your mentoring sessions to talk about your knowledge and experience. It takes less time and you may feel that since you know what works you might as well expedite the process. You may even consider it a waste of time if you don’t. Our experience demonstrates that one-way mentoring relationships miss the mark and frequently end up making the mentee feel powerless.  Use questions to engage the mentee in the conversation. Questions facilitate learning by encouraging a mentee to reflect. Asking questions that require thoughtful answers can help mentees articulate their own thinking.

Home plate: Invite feedback by asking for your mentee’s input. Mentees are generally reluctant to give feedback to a mentor about the advice they have received from them. Encourage their feedback. For example, you may have spent a session talking about a solution to a problem. Ask them if you were on target with your suggestions. Were they relevant? Did they work? What else might they have needed?

Have you touched all the bases?

People Developing People: The Move to Mentoring

Posted on: December 4th, 2013 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Article written by Agatha Gilmore and published in Chief Learning Officer Magazine

When times are tough, we often look to our friends and colleagues for support. That human connection and sharing of knowledge is an invaluable tool for navigating a crisis — and now, it’s an economical one, too.

According to Bersin Associates’ Corporate Learning Factbook 2009, the U.S. corporate training industry shrank roughly 4 percent between 2007 and 2008 — “the greatest decline in more than 10 years,” the report stated. Yet perhaps more interesting, this decline was accompanied by a corresponding uptick in the interest in and use of mentoring solutions.

According to the Factbook report, “[some] online training hours were replaced by coaching, collaborative programs and other less-costly methods.” In fact, coaching is now incorporated into 30 percent of all training programs.

“When you’re talking about a decrease in training budgets, it’s not just the workshops themselves, but it’s the actual [number of] people that are responsible for it and able to implement it [that is decreasing],” explained Judy Corner, a subject-matter expert in mentoring at Insala, a provider of talent management software and solutions. “Even with an economic upturn, that’s probably one department where it’s not going to go back up. Your IT will go back up, so will other areas of the organization — product development or manufacturing. But chances are the training function will not go back up. How do you get that type of development out to people without increasing that head count? Mentoring is that. It’s a way for people to get development without having to go to a training class.”

While mentoring can’t fully replace traditional classroom-based training and e-learning programs, it can help reinforce them and provide much-needed one-on-one support.

“Like it or not, people still need people,” Corner said. “Employees are saying, ‘As soon as this economic upturn begins and I’m feeling comfortable, I’m out of here.’ What organizations are suddenly realizing is, ‘Uh oh, we’d better be careful, and we’d better let our employees know that we really do care about them and we really want our good people to stay.’ Mentoring a great way to do that.”

Another advantage of mentoring is the potential for highly customized, just-in-time learning.

“Oftentimes there isn’t a specific training class to be able to address whatever that person’s immediate need might be,” said Morgan O’Brien, Insala’s vice president of business development for North America. “For example, if I’m working for an organization that’s just expanding to creating and entering global markets, there may be someone I can tap into in my organization with a question or to help reflect on a specific issue, but the training department might not have any kind of formalized structured curriculum to assist with those kinds of situations.”

Although measuring the cost savings from using mentoring versus traditional training methods might be difficult, Corner said learning executives can point to the end result as proof.

“[It’s] the fact that people have gotten the development they needed without the expense of going through a training function — whether it’s a workshop or a course or whatever it might be,” she said.

That said, organizations must be very careful and deliberate when turning to mentoring to supplement training.

“The biggest pitfall is the fact that if you don’t make sure that you’ve got good mentors, bad habits can get passed on,” said Corner, who added that learning leaders should consider offering mentoring training for business managers and other would-be mentors. “The quality of your mentoring initiatives is highly dependent on the quality of your mentors.”

O’Brien added that another crucial factor to consider when implementing a mentoring program is setting the right expectations, both for mentors and mentees.

“Oftentimes mentees have a perception that their career is going to be skyrocketed by participating in this program.