Archive for July, 2014

Mentoring Solutions for Succession Planning Problems

Posted on: July 30th, 2014 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

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With an aging workforce, planning for the inevitability of your leaders exiting your organization is becoming more and more necessary by the day. Succession planning isn’t just a buzzword: it’s a developmental strategy that’s extremely relevant to how we plan to run our businesses in 2014 and beyond.

You may have previously put it off due to some common problems that may include a) identification, development, and retention of possible successors, and b) budget constraints. While you may consider mentoring as a solution for these issues in your organization, before you go any further, you must first discard the idea of succession planning as “replacement” planning.

Why “Replacement” Planning Isn’t Enough

Your organization may have a plan for what happens if and when a top level employee leaves – but chances are it’s more of a crisis/contingency plan.

Let me ask you this: is the planned replacement ready to take on that new role? Are they able to do it while transitioning from their current role and handing off their responsibilities? If they had to do it in the next two weeks, could they do it? If the answer is “no,” it’s probably because no one’s invested in their development and transition into that new role.

Successors Are Not Replacements

The critical difference between the concepts of replacement planning and succession planning is the development invested in the intended successor. Bear in mind that no one likes to be a replacement: the word “replacement” itself connotes “second rate/second best/I’m not ecstatic with the current state but it’ll have to do”.


Alternatively, take this more proper definition: “a person or thing that takes the place of another” (Oxford English Dictionary). But as we all know, when we’re talking about human beings and the complex ranges of their skills, capabilities, personalities, and methodologies, you can never simply substitute person A, entire, for person B, and assume that business will run as it always has.

Business will not run as it always has; and no, that’s not necessarily a bad thing so long as you accept it and plan for it. Change is inevitable. Ignore it at the risk of having a replacement that everyone sees as second best – as a best case scenario. When things go wrong in leadership, after all, they tend to really go wrong for the whole business.

But when you give someone the tools and development and investment to advance beyond “second rate/second best”, know the territory they’re inheriting, and perform well within it, they’re able to become a true successor.

And that person is ready to take on their new role.

Mentoring Solutions for Succession Planning – and Development

Like I said before, if you’ve been hesitant before about implementing a succession plan in the past, here’s how mentoring can be a solution:

  1. Make the most of a limited budget. Your mentors (the people who currently hold the leadership role) and mentees (their successors) come from within your organization, which means two things for you: 1) You don’t incur coaching or training costs otherwise associated with developing employees, and 2) you optimize transfer of practical, cultural, and institutional knowledge.
  2. Identify. You may find that your mentors are uniquely suited to help you do identify potential successors.
  3. Develop. The structure of a formal mentoring program is inherently developmental because it a) is mentee-driven b) offers practical experience to mentees, c) offers mentee’s first-hand knowledge pertaining to their roles and/or future roles.
  4. Retain. Formal mentoring programs also help retain identified successors by investing in not only their development, but their integration with the culture and their new territory.

The “Success” in Succession

One final note: ultimately when you’re looking at succession planning, you aren’t just looking at developing individual leaders – you’re looking at developing the entire company.

And that’s really the key to formal mentoring programs. Each mentor/mentee pair’s goals and objectives must be their own and tailored to the mentee’s developmental needs, yes – but at the same time, they must tie back to organizational objectives; and formal mentoring programs, if structured and administered correctly, allow for exactly this.

When it comes to your succession plan in 2014, don’t just line up replacements. Don’t even stop at developing individual successors. Developing successors won’t mean anything if you don’t tie it back to developing your organization’s success.

What should be the focus of your mentoring program?

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

For mentoring to work, both partners have to share a focus or focus areas. 

In professional mentoring, these are usually specific core competencies such as:

  • leadership
  • supervisory skills
  • financial acumen

This ensures that mentoring will have a clear purpose and will be tied to business objectives relevant for the company. 

But what makes mentoring different from coaching is that there is also a second set of goals that are personal. These are things like:

  • increased self-confidence
  • perception by others
  • long term career goals 

So although it's important to attach professional goals and objectives to a mentoring program, it's in the personal area that mentoring gets its power. By establishing a trusting relationship which is not evaluated from a performance system perspective, the mentoree can share the main issues that affect their success which are usually personal rather than competency-based. 

If you conduct an evaluation survey at the end of your program and ask mentorees and mentors how they grew personally, you will be amazed at what you will read.  

5 Steps to Distance Mentoring

Posted on: July 16th, 2014 by Mentoring Matters Blog presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Distance MentoringIn today’s connected world, mentoring for leadership and career development is easier than you might think. With collaboration and video conferencing tools, you can build relationships across the globe and develop your career from the comfort of your own home. Don’t get me wrong; meeting in person is always preferred. But, could you mentor remotely? Of course! Let me show you. Follow these five steps to launch your distance mentoring relationships into the cybersphere.

1. Incorporate Google tools in your mentoring work plan

From Google Hangouts to Google+, the search-engine super star has many gizmos that are perfect for mentoring. If you haven’t joined Google+, I highly recommend that you do so quickly. In addition, use Google Drive to share and collaborate on documents, projects and presentations with your mentors or mentees. It’s easy and makes working together simple and cooperative.

2. Create a LinkedIn group

With LinkedIn, you can produce and share content with large groups of people. But what about sharing content with a select few? The platform allows you to leverage groups to build a safe space to share experiences and to network.

3. Adopt a video conferencing tool

Meeting face-to-face is such an important part of building relationship. Now we have technology that can help. From iMeet to Fuze, there are many conferencing services available. With the right tool, you can connect with your mentees (or mentors) from anywhere and even maintain your meeting schedule. So, when you’re working on the road or traveling with your family, check in with your mentor and continue to build your relationship via video. If you have an iPhone, you can Facetime in to meetings and touch base with your mentees with the click of a button.

4. Use Twitter to connect

I expect my mentees to continuously grow their careers and develop as people. When I can’t see my mentees, or I have to miss a meeting, Twitter allows me to stay in touch. You can use the platform to check in, comment on work or add your two cents to project or personal development. Want to send a private message? The platform offers that function as well. Don’t fret the 140-character limit; it can be a blessing — trust me.

5. Encourage your mentees to use social media

Social media is an excellent place to build a professional network, find a mentor and nourish your relationships — use it. You should use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest to share your ideas and build a community of people that share your interests. The world has never been more connected, so get out there and meet people.

As you can see, there are many tools out there to help you stay connected and continue to build your professional relationships. It’s up to you to use them.

If you have questions, contact us. We’re here to help you.


Common Mistakes Made By New Mentorees in a Mentoring Relationship

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Having a mentor is one of the most important relationships you can have in your career.  Once a mentoring relationship has been established, you will grow, not only in specific areas you've identified, but also in ways unexpected and long after your relationship may have ended. To increase your chances of having a successful experience, avoid these common errors mentorees often make in their initial meetings with their mentor.

You lack focus on what you want to work on in your mentoring relationship

Since a mentoring relationship is focused on you, the mentor can't be the one to determine what you need.  It's your career, so come prepared with specific ideas on why you need a mentor.  Don't just say you want to develop leadership or management skills. Instead, specify the skill you want to develop:  i.e., how to deal with difficult personalities/employees, how to read financial data and interpret how that impacts my department, etc. This gives your mentor information to ask questions to fine-tune how they can be helpful. 

You expect your mentor to provide you with the map

Although mentors are wise and experienced, they don't necessarily have the answers or the complete path you should follow.  Even if the path you want to follow is similar to theirs, what worked for them may not necessarily work for you. Instead, look at your mentor as a facilitator who will share the responsibility with you to help you find the correct path for you while maintaining your own uniqueness. This means they will ask questions, listen to your challenges, provide possible thoughts on how to resolve issues and proceed. Ultimately, though, your mentor will support the decisions you make as opposed to your taking their advice in every situation.

You expect your mentor to manage the relationship

In deference to your mentor's experience and wisdom, you may believe that it is your mentor who will actually control this relationship. Not true. You are the one who drives this relationship. How?  By sharing your goals, your aspirations, your challenges, your successes, your doubts, etc.  This means sharing the real issues that impact your success.

A mentors’ role is to respond to issues in ways that help guide and challenge you beyond what you think you can accomplish.

The areas in which you want to go and the pace you want to follow in that growth rests with you.  A mentor cannot make you do what you don't want to do. You are always the one in control of your own destiny, even in mentoring.

Group Mentoring: 4 Red Flags

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014 by Mentoring Matters Blog presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Group mentoring offers some very rich opportunities for promoting group and individual learning. While group mentoring multiplies the learning, it can only do so when members of the group intentionally and effectively work at strengthening relationships between and among themselves.

What are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to group mentoring?

11. Jumpstarting the process without first building trust. Too often group mentoring participants — particularly peer mentors — are so eager to get started that they jump right into mentoring without taking enough time to establish and build trust among themselves. In group mentoring, all mentoring partners must feel safe before they can feel comfortable enough to be open with one another and to experience significant learning.



22. Failure to acknowledge difference. It is easy to assume that by virtue of being in a group, group members share common interests. While it is quite true that they may share some things in common, they are unique individuals and each brings who they are into the relationship. When members fail to understand their own and each other’s’ uniqueness, they miss out on the opportunity to learn from different perspectives.



33. Not fully committed to the process. When individuals are required to participate in group mentoring, they may fail to engage fully in the process. They may choose instead to sit back passively or withhold their opinions. Inevitably, it is the group that misses out. Lack of engagement impacts the learning of the entire group.



44. Failure to engage in conversation. Mentoring groups may sometimes say that they engage in “conversation.” What they are actually doing, though, is participating in a series of transactions or interactions. It is only when mentoring partners fully engage in conversation that deeper insights emerge. Conversation that demands collaborative engagement accelerates learning and takes group mentoring to a whole new level.