Archive for January, 2015

Who Do You Want to Become? vs. What Do You Want To Be?

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by All Things Workplace presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Which question are you asking yourself?

Your choice will help determine the depth of your life as well as the comfort-level of your career. Treegrowingtall0

I've been watching a new CEO client begin his tenure at a global company. He is very comfortable listening, talking, giving direction, and saying "I don't know. That sounds good to me. Go ahead and do it." (Whatever the "it" is).

What I'm really seeing is a man who has, over a lifetime, decided to "become" the kind of person he wanted to be. I know for a fact that he didn't set out to be a CEO. In fact, he was invited into the role. The reason he received the invitation, I believe, rests in great part on who he is to the people around him.

Yet "who he is" was shaped by not ambitiously jumping into a position that was too far ahead of "who he was" at the moment. His career path shows a progression that was slow and steady, building solid relationships and new knowledge along the way.  And each step on the ladder reflected genuine accomplishment.

Now he has become a CEO; he doesn't have to play the role of CEO.

And that's the distinction between where the two questions above will lead you.

Who do you want to become?

Or do you want to play a role?

Think about the how the difference will affect your life.

Starting Strong is Key to Mentoring Success

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Mentoring Matters Blog presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

StartingStrongAre you from Gen X or Y, anxious to advance your career?

Are you eager make a mark in your organization?

Are you committed to orchestrating your own future?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you will need good mentors if you’re going to be successful.

In our new book, Starting Strong: A Mentoring Fable, you have the opportunity to observe mentoring at work and learn valuable lessons from an experienced mentor about what makes a mentoring relationship successful.

Cynthia, a talented and successful VP of Marketing and Communications agrees to mentor Rafa, a Gen Y financial analyst. Cynthia enjoys mentoring talented, ambitious employees, but only when she is sure that her time investment will truly make a difference.

Rafa is new to mentoring and doesn’t know what to do or what to expect. In retrospect, he realizes that he had a lot to learn about mentoring. The truth of the matter is, most mentees, like Rafa, would like to come to mentoring better prepared.

In Starting Strong, you soon discover just how important the first 90 days are to laying the groundwork for a productive and successful mentoring relationship and what you can do to prepare yourself so that your mentoring relationship starts out and stays strong.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the success strategies you will find in our book:

  1. Get to know your mentor and help them get to know you.
    • Do you feel comfortable being honest and open about your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Establish agreements that define your relationship and clarify your expectations.
    • How often will you meet?
    • What is your understanding about confidentiality?
    • Who will set the agenda for your meetings?
  3. Articulate the goals that will be the focus of your relationship.
    • Are they SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) enough to produce tangible results?
  4. Identify specific learning opportunities that will encourage you to stretch and grow.
    • Are you playing it safe, or are you being pushed out of your comfort zone?
  5. Check in on progress after 90 days.
    • What is working?
    • What could be better?
    • Are you getting the support you need?
    • What else are you looking for?

When Mentorship Programs Fail Due to Poor Training

Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by Management Mentors presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

mentoring trainingI am frequently asked “What are the most common reasons mentorship programs fail?”

There are four main reasons mentorship programs fail:

  1. Design
  2. Matching
  3. Training
  4. Support

This is the third in a series of four blog posts.

In this post, we will focus on training as a common reason mentorship programs fail.

Because many people understand mentoring differently, it is important for both the mentor and mentoree to have the same understanding of how to establish a mentoring relationship. This is why both partners need to be trained.

  • Good mentoring training will consist of:
  • an explanation of what mentoring is and is not,
  • understanding the stages of mentoring and how they work,
  • dealing with some of the most common challenges pairs have such as time constraints, long distance relationships, etc.

Good mentoring training will also walk pairs through their first meeting together, and have a process for dissolving the relationship near the end of the program’s close.   

Some trainers may also bring in a lot of communication training, which is fine.  The training itself should not be a one-hour orientation but should actually involve several hours dealing with the dynamics of a mentoring relationship. Classroom training is the best. When we conduct training sessions, we train half a day with mentors and half a day with mentorees. On the following day we have a joint session with all participants. However, in today’s cost-conscious business environment, an online elearning mentoring course is often more appropriate and more cost effective.

Training is a very important part of supporting successful mentoring programs. Without proper training, mentoring relationships are likely going to fail.

Why Should I Measure My Mentoring Program?

Posted on: January 7th, 2015 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Human, but Subjective

Mentoring is a very human development method – and that’s definitely part of the beauty of it. One of the reasons mentoring tends to work as well as it does within organizations is precisely because it’s individual-to-individual, and facilitates conversations and connections between employees.

These conversations and connections mean a few really great things for the organization, among them stronger bonds between and across teams, a greater wealth of shared knowledge, and more developed people overall.

However, the flipside to the “humanness” of using mentoring as a developmental method is the subjectivity that comes along with it.

This presents a challenge.

A mentee might think that they have achieved their goal, but their mentor may not agree. Or a mentee’s manager may not see the development they were hoping for or expected to see, and not agree that the mentee’s goal was reached. Or leadership may disagree that the mentoring program as a whole met its organizational objectives.

All of this translates into bad sentiments all around, bad word of mouth within the organization, and the dwindling possibility that your mentoring program will grow and thrive the way you want it to.

There’s a balance between encouraging that person-to-person interaction and development, and being strategic. No matter where you are with regards to planning, implementing, or running your mentoring program now, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If there’s a dispute with leadership or management, how will I prove what objectives were agreed upon in the first place?
  • How will I prove that goals and objectives were met?
  • How will I prove the success of my program overall?

40% of Mentoring Program Managers Don't Know How Successful Their Program Is

At our webinar “How to Make Your Mentoring Program a Success,” a staggering 40% of attendees reported that they didn’t know how successful their last mentoring program was – because they hadn’t measured it.

This was by far the leading answer, far ahead of 28% of respondents who said that their program was “Somewhat Successful” and 22% who said that their program was “Mostly Successful”.

That 40% who reported they didn’t know if their program was successful or not is really quite alarming considering that without the ability to record objectives, measure results, and provide transparency about both objectives and results to all stakeholders, your program will be hindered by doubt, lack of information, and potentially your inability to prove why you should keep your funding.

Reporting for mentoring success comes down to three things:

1. Recording goals, objectives, and progress. Administrators record organizational goals and objectives set by leadership. Mentors and mentees record how often they’ve met, their learning agreement, individual learning goals, and activities, and their progress toward these goals.

2. Measuring success and spotting problems. Administrators track and report on overall progress toward the organizational goals, and spots potential problems as they occur. Problems can crop up at the partnership level, or overall. Noting inconsistent or infrequent meetings, or little to no progress toward learning goals are a big red flag no matter whether they’re occurring in just one partnership, or across the entire program.

3. Adjusting the program and resolving conflicts where needed. Spotting these red flags allows administrators to take care of problems before they spread further and get the partnership and/or entire program back on track.

Ultimately, all of this allows for transparency in mentoring programs – and don’t underestimate the importance of transparency at all levels.

Transparency not only keeps everyone on the same page and prevents major disagreements from coming up – it also helps keep everyone accountable. Mentors and mentees are held accountable for their own development, administrators are kept accountable for supporting the program, and leadership is kept accountable for the initial goals and objectives that were set at the very beginning of the program.

That 40% of people who self-reported that they didn’t know how successful their mentoring programs were because they weren’t able report? Their issue goes far deeper than simply being unable to prove their success. The overarching issue is that they are hindering themselves from being successful in the first place – and they aren’t acknowledging it.

So Why Should I Measure My Mentoring Program?

Not convinced yet? To sum it all up, here are four good reasons to report on your mentoring program.

1. Keep your funding year to year. Presumably, you will need to report to your manager what occurred in your mentoring program, and what occurred as a result of it in the organization in terms of development, promotion, recognition, etc. – even if you haven’t tied your mentoring program to organizational objectives (which we strongly recommend you do!) Set yourself up for success from the get-go.

2. Keep all your stakeholders happy and prevent disputes. When it comes to what has been accomplished, why it was accomplished, and what the purpose of your mentoring program is in terms of your organization’s goals and growth, you never want any of your stakeholders to be in doubt. This includes all participants, managers, administrators, and leadership. At the first whiff of purposelessness in any initiative, productivity tends to go down. Don’t let this happen to your program.

3. Encourage momentum and good word of mouth. The better experience your participants have in your program, the more likely they are to not only volunteer to be part of future programs, but spread their excitement to their friends and colleagues at the organization. That means more willing mentors and mentees, and program growth from cycle to cycle.

4. Develop a mentoring culture. The more infectious your participants’ excitement, the more mentoring becomes a part of the very culture of your organization. And even if this is informal mentoring and goes unmeasured, your organization is still all the better off for it.