Time for Mentoring

When Your Mentors and Mentees Don't Have Time for Mentoring

No one can put more hours in the day, but we can give you a few tips and strategies to make the most of the hours you – and your mentors and mentees – do have.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 4 Top Mentoring FAQ

We’ve found that people involved with running mentoring programs at their organization tend to have a lot of the same frequently asked questions about mentoring.

Take a look below:

Top Mentoring FAQ

How can I qualify mentors? 

Firstly, let them self-assess out as necessary, by letting all your potential mentors know upfront exactly what they’re signing up for. Even if recruiting mentors is a pain point for you, you only want the right mentors in your program. Second, ensure that the remaining mentor pool have the knowledge the mentees need, as well as the coaching, communication, and interpersonal skills required. (Learn more about mentor training.)

How can I measure mentoring

This depends on your program goals. What are your specific business objectives? If it’s improving a learning curve for a targeted group, you can identify savings in speed to productivity. If it’s to decrease your training budget, you can show the difference between old training budget and new mentoring budget in light of learning targets achieved through mentoring. If it’s succession planning, you can tie it to people moving up in the organization and their learning goals.

These are just a few examples. Rest assured, though, that if you have defined objectives, you can measure your mentoring program’s success. (Tip: mentoring software can make this easier to track and report on if you're feeling overwhelmed.)

How can I assess mentors and mentees? 

Look at mentors and mentees using both qualitative and quantitative measurements. For an example of quantitative mentoring measurements, did your mentors and mentees meet their objectives for the mentoring partnership? Or if your program cycles, are any particular mentors chosen as a mentor over and over again? For an example of qualitative mentoring measurements, look at feedback surveys. For example, how did the mentee’s manager, coworkers, and team members see that the mentee developed?

Again, if you have defined objectives, you can measure your mentors and mentees.

How can I get buy in from management or leadership to obtain or maintain funding? 

Make sure your mentoring program is not seen as an expendable program. The adage goes that you have to make yourself irreplaceable in order to have complete job security; and the same logic applies here. Mentoring is a business strategy, not a warm fuzzy feel good program. It’s there and formalized to solve specific and targeted business pains. Present your case in light of those pains and how you’re going to resolve them, and that’s your strategy to get buy in for your mentoring program.

Do you have a question that isn’t one of these? Let us know in the comments.

Learn about how you can measure your mentoring program with mentoring software.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Multiple Generations in Mentoring: Poll Results

As promised, here are the results of the poll that closed last Thursday.

Have you found it challenging to include multiple generations in your mentoring program?
  • Yes – 20%
  • No – 60%
  • We don’t include multiple generations in our mentoring program – 20%
  • I’m not sure; I’ve never considered it – 0%

While 80% of respondents indicated that their mentoring program wasn’t challenged by including multiple generations, it bears asking if those respondents are challenged overall by multiple generations in the workplace (regarding communication and working styles, for example), and if yes, if the lack of those issues in their mentoring program is at least in part due to mentoring’s collaborative methodology.

Regardless, there have been a lot of articles and news reports in recent months, and even years, stressing the differences between Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, and urging their audiences to understand other generations’ needs and wants as employees. This is a commendable goal. But how does this impact our perception of each other as employees – and therefore how we work with each other?

Let us know your thoughts.

Learn more about how mentoring can help bridge the generation gap in the workplace.

Monday, April 13, 2015

ATD 2015: Mentoring for Multi-Generational Communication, Development, and Succession

Insala's very own Judy Corner will be presenting at the 2015 ATD Conference. We highly encourage all of you who are planning on going to stop by and see her presentation, "Mentoring for Multi-Generational Communication, Development, and Succession."

Here's an overview of the session:

This session will discuss how mentoring can be a valuable, cost-effective, and time-efficient development tool for organizations facing a multi-generational workforce. It will explore common multi-generational issues that are facing organizations today, such as knowledge capital that will walk out with Baby Boomer retirees, closing the communication and work ethic gaps between generations, and accelerating learning for new hires. The session then dives into how different organizations have used mentoring to meet these types of issues. You will learn how your organization can prepare to use these business strategies and identify the elements that must be included to ensure success. Discover how to handle possible challenges during implementation, and the advantages of how multi-generational factors create the opportunity for an organization to leverage disparate, but valuable, people, knowledge, and skills. The session will wrap up with short group discussions and a worksheet where you can identify the appropriate steps to take in the next three to six months to implement such a strategy.

Learn more here - and don't forget to stop by!

Insala is a provider of mentoring software, mentoring training, and mentoring consulting

Friday, April 10, 2015

Formal or Informal Mentoring?

Formal and Informal Mentoring

In our last poll that we ran on this blog, 71% of respondents reported that they found a combination of formal and informal mentoring to be more effective than just formal mentoring or just informal mentoring.

We’ve definitely found at Insala that informal mentoring enhances formal mentoring, and vice versa. The continuing problem, of course, is that informal mentoring is not measurable or reportable by definition.

Informal Mentoring and Social Learning

However, there’s a growing movement toward using social learning and/or mentoring software to facilitate informal and skills-based mentoring. Through this model, an individual seeking training or information on a certain and specific skill would be able to access a database of subject matter experts at their organization, find a “mentor” who is willing and able to teach them that particular skill, and form a “mentoring” relationship that lasts only as long as the “mentee” needs it – which may be only a few meetings.

For example: Say an HR person moves into more of a PR role, and discovers they need to know best practices around using social media. They can access the database, find someone who can teach them those best practices, give them a call, set up a few meetings, and it’s done.

Benefits of this model include:
  • Just in time 
  • Self-driven
  • Fast and immediate networking
  • Everyone can use it
  • Minimal maintenance from the organization
  • Can be built out to be as measurable as you want it to be
  • Can tie into your formal mentoring programs – including measurement. 
  • Can morph into formal mentoring relationships. 

Cons of this model may include:
  • Not formal mentoring
  • Harder to measure
  • Can’t tie strategic objectives to it

Formal and Informal Mentoring Reinforce Each Other

I’ll say again that it’s best when used in combination with formal mentoring – it definitely shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for formal mentoring, in any case – as it reinforces the knowledge transfer and individual development that formal mentoring provides, and can even serve to help fill some specific knowledge gaps that a formal mentor may have in either their area, or a completely unrelated area.

Going back to our example HR person above, say for example that her formal mentor has a lot of traditional PR experience – but not a lot of social media experience, especially around PR. This kind of mentoring is a way to get the best of both worlds, and positively reinforce the mentee’s learning experience from all sides.

Like formal mentoring, it’s mentee-driven at its core, but with an added dimension of being very self-directed at the same time – even if it happens to be under the guidance of a formal mentor.

Learn more about how mentoring software can help your organization’s learning initiatives.

Monday, March 30, 2015

POLL: Challenges of Multiple Generations in Mentoring

We are all aware of the frictions that having 3+ generations in the workplace can bring about. Given the difference in working and communication styles and preferences from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, we're interested to know if you have encountered challenges specific to your mentoring program:

This poll will remain open until Thursday, April 2, at which point we will share the results.

(Don't be shy if you're interested in the results - share this around with your peers!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Virtual Mentoring Right for Your Organization?

Consider Virtual Mentoring Earlier Rather Than Later

One of the biggest things our clients ask about when putting together their mentoring program is mentor matching criteria.  We’ve written previously on the 5 mentor matching criteria you should consider, but today I want to focus on location-based mentor matching criteria and virtual mentoring.

Location is a big consideration when you’re putting together your mentor matching criteria, and for good reason. You want to consider a few things:

  • How great a distance your mentoring program spans – e.g. one office? One city? One state/province? One country?
  • How far can you realistically expect your mentors and mentees to commute to meet?
  • How important it is to you that your mentors and mentees meet face to face, as opposed to virtually?

When To Use Virtual Mentoring

Realistically, if your mentoring program is geographically larger than one office, you’ll be looking at having virtual relationships. Why? Your mentoring program is likely (hopefully) targeted. For this example, let’s say it’s targeted to a certain department. In every office, you have an average of 7 people in that department. Of those 7, only 4 are willing and qualified to participate in the mentoring program. Of those 4, you have two possible mentors, and two possible mentees.

That’s a very small selection pool, and there’s a very small chance that there will be two good matches between those four people. When you’re looking at achieving set objectives for your mentoring program, location is not a limitation you can afford to impose – because it’s a huge limitation. And you don’t want to limit your mentoring participants, or your mentoring program, in that way. You can bet that there are people in other offices and locations who can better help each other, and who can better help you meet your objectives.

That doesn’t looking a virtual mentoring exclusively for your organization – but it does mean setting expectations about virtual mentoring from the very beginning of your mentoring program planning.

Virtual Mentoring and Expectation Setting

By virtue of being virtual mentoring, it will require technology. This can mean video conferencing like Skype, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting, or even meeting by phone. But it also means that you need to prepare them for the possibility of being in a virtual mentoring relationship, and painting a picture of what that looks like in your organization.

Set expectations with your mentors, mentees, administrators, mentee’s managers, and leadership. Let them know through mentoring training:

  • How virtual mentoring fits into your mentoring program plan and structure
  • Rules specific to your organization and/or mentoring program
  • Best practices and suggestions

Learn more about Insala’s mentoring software.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mentor Matches Don't Always Work Out

Don't Hesitate When There's a Bad Mentor Match

Your seventh and final step to getting mentors and mentees to make time for mentoring focuses on closing the circle so that, no matter what unexpected issues crop up, you are ready to keep the mentoring program cycling to success. 

mentor match
We all know that even the best mentor matches can go wrong - regardless of how great your mentor matching criteria are. Even if both mentor and mentee go into their mentoring partnership with the very best of intentions, sometimes the unexpected happens, and there ends up being a conflict of personality, work, family, etc. 

If and/or when this happens, they need to know that there is a clear plan laid out for them to follow, and b) that there is someone who will guide them through it. 

That’s you, the program administrator. 

There’s no point in wasting time if it’s clear it’s a bad mentor match. It’s important that the mentor and mentee know that it’s okay to admit that it’s not working, so that they can be reassigned to more productive mentor matches. 

Consequences of Prolonging a Bad Mentor Match

Equally, it’s important that you, the program administrator, are able to admit that it’s okay that a mentor match isn’t working for a few reasons:

  1. Your mentoring program will lose credibility and momentum. Especially if you intend for your mentoring program to cycle over, you can’t afford to have bad PR if you’re going to recruit new mentors and mentees. 
  2. No progress will be made toward your objectives. Frustrated, apathetic, and/or absent mentors and mentees won’t be able to learn and develop in ways that you can tie back to your objectives for your mentoring program.
  3. You won’t be able to demonstrate ROI. If you’re not progressing toward your objectives, there’s no way that you will have mentoring program ROI – which means that when push comes to shove when you’re trying to keep your funding, you likely won’t be able to. 

Mentor Rematching Action Steps

Here’s what to do instead:

  1. Let mentors and mentees know before the program starts that they should come to you if they feel the match isn’t working – and that there will be no negative consequences for them should they do so. 
  2. Have a plan ready to put into action should a mentor and mentee approach you with just this concern – and take into consideration the possibility that you’ll need to put on your mediator hat as part of the job. 
  3. Be prepared to get back on track by marketing your mentoring program
It’s very important that a “no fault” mentoring partnership split rule is established to enable any necessary switches. Everyone needs to abide by it, mentors, mentees, managers, peers, etc. It’s okay to be reassigned. It’s up to you to communicate that to everyone involved.

Learn more about making the best possible mentor matches.