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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The "New" Mentor

It's often referred to as reverse mentoring, and it is on a rise since millennials are now the majority in the workforce and a fast-moving workforce at that. In a previous blog we introduced what reverse mentoring is and how influential it can be for both the junior and senior employee, but what are the tips for the mentor and mentee?

Make sure to also read "Understanding Millennial Leaders Before Mentoring" for a better concept of who Millennials are and what they want - whether they are mentoring or in a role of a mentee.

Tips for Reverse Mentoring:

  • Patience really is a virtue. There is something for both members to learn from each other. For example: a senior mentee has expertise in how the organization works or how to rise to the C-level position, but because he/she was not born in the age of technology, may rely on the millennial mentor to help find efficient ways to use gadgets to their advantage. This can also relate to the millennial mentor who may know technology, but not know different ways to network other than using social media. 
  • Imperfect Matching is Perfect. You want your pairing to be from people of two extremes for reverse mentoring to successfully work.While this is true for any mentoring relationship, it's essential for reverse mentoring because it requires confidence and great social skills for a junior employee to mentor a senior executive. It also takes a senior employee to accept that someone younger is able to give insight on their own career. 
  • It doesn't have to be so formal. Reverse mentoring is a newer, unique type of mentoring because its generally perceived that a mentor is more established and a mentee is relatively newer. The idea that the two are reversed can appear abnormal. Every mentoring relationship should have set outlined goals, but should also set time for the two to learn more about their world outside of work. For example, the millennial mentor can help the senior mentee pick out a cellular phone or the newest gadget for their children. Maybe the senior mentee gives advice on how to manage work and personal time for the millennial. Either way, the relationship should be remain unique since it is already unique to begin with. 
  • Remain professional. This is specifically related to junior employees when candor is expressed in the relationship. It is all right to joke, but you should always ask yourself if it is appropriate or not. Emotional intelligence, if not common sense, is key in such a relationship. 
  • Don't dominate the relationship. Yes you both have a lot of knowledge over different concepts, but Millennials should be cautious overstepping by dictating work strategies where they may be less skilled in, Remember, even as a mentor, you are learning as well and that the senior mentee has knowledge you many not have yet. 
  • Keep an open dialogue. It may feel uncomfortable at first being informed by someone inexperienced than you or understanding a millennial's thought process, but that is exactly why there needs to be a discussion. Ask questions and listen. Reverse mentoring does help and the effects can be so beneficial to you and the wider organization. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tips to Strategize Diversity in Your Mentoring Program

More than ever before, diversity is a necessity for growing organizations. It accommodates diversity in your clients, motivates employees and even recognizes new knowledge and skills that may of been overlooked. However the problem isn't marketing diversity, rather it's how to do it the best, most efficient way possible.

Mentoring programs and solutions are excellent tools to enhance employee relations, significantly for racial minorities and women. By matching an experienced employee with a diverse employee you are increasing the chance of knowledge gain, network building and motivation for minorities in the workforce. In addition, mentoring persuades employees to engage more with others and the organization. Often they feel that the organization cares about their development and them as an individual. Mentoring also helps employees acclimate to their new position and disposes feelings of isolation.

  1. Using Mentoring as a way of means and not the end result. Sure, mentoring programs can mandate diversity and in return orchestrates fair statistic demographics, but will it bring qualified mentors/mentees? Instead of focusing solely on diversity, the program should establish ways for individuals to volunteer. Mandated policies usually backfire in a way that results don't actually illustrate the intended plan, however creating a platform for volunteering will produce an internal motivation to want to be apart and therefore encourage all qualified people - regardless of their background or culture. 
  2. Instead use diversity initiatives. Mentoring brings people together in their personal careers, helping individuals feel fair in the organization. It also results in honest dialogue for pairs, especially diverse employees who are able to discuss their views more freely. The matching process could develop change on an internal level, but also for the organization as a whole. 
  3. Mentoring can produce unseen talent from mangers. It's human nature to surround ourselves with others that are similar to us but it produces a block for minorities who feel uncomfortable by it, especially subordinates in the organization. Matching managers with lower level staff from different departments (or the same), mentoring will unravel the latent skills manager's may have missed. This is wonderful for organizations who are in search of employees to fill higher positions and in doing so cutting the cost of external hires and extensive training. 
  4. Empowering people to find their role in the organization, mentoring smooths the process especially in cross-culture environments. How? If a majority, white male mentor is matched with a female black mentee, the mentor can teach the mentee on the skills needed in a majority dominated world. A minority mentee can also be matched with a similar minorty mentor where the mentee perceives her mentor as a role model "whose made it" and can learn how to overcome workplace obstacles. 
Insala. whose mastered mentoring for over 20 years, provides efficient solutions to launch and deliver your mentoring program. Whether it's for diversity or not, Insala's consultants help organizations like yours pinpoint business objectives , talent development opportunities, and produce individualistic mentoring programs customized for all types.

Stay tuned for our next blog on how to break the glass ceiling for women with mentoring.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Why is Diversity Important for the Workplace

We live in a world that is constantly changing, especially in America, when minorities are becoming a majority and from 1998 to 2008 a growth of 41 percent of employees were non-white. Aside from laws encouraging diversity in the workforce, the benefits alone would satisfy any organization seeking increased profits and growth.
But why?

Better Business

Numbers don't lie and for organizations that have high turnovers you may want to take a look at the demographics. Most Human Resource studies show that organizations who practice hiring diverse people typically retain their employees. That means more time spent on tasks rather than getting stuck in a cycle of training. For organizations with younger employees, diversity is practically mandatory. Millennials are often referred to as "job-hoppers," jumping from different organizations to the next. However, multiple studies show Millennials crave diversity and if an organization discloses their openness with hiring, the higher chance Gen Y employees will stay (and a better ROI).

Better Quality

It also produces new, innovative perspectives from people with different cultures and backgrounds. This is essential because most organization's customers are from a spectrum of racial/gender groups and having employees who mirror these customers enable better solutions and alleviate language barriers. This is especially true in sales and marketing where employees with different backgrounds provide valuable insight for customers from their own respective group, compared to helping just one or two groups. In addition, having a larger net of applicants opens more possibilities of unique skills and ideas. It's a double win - hiring qualified, diverse employees helps the overall staff and the organization's growth.

Better Process

Diversity also results with new processes of different ideas coming together. The world is changing - rapidly – and it is inevitable to stop any time soon meaning continuous change for HR. Having cross-culture thinking and adaptability is key for success and it all ties together when organizations hire based off quality and accepting all groups (such as race, gender and sexual orientation). 

In our next blog we will discuss how to strategize diversity in your mentoring program

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tips on Thanking Your Mentor

Although January 21 is recognized as "Thank Your Mentor Day," you don't have to wait another year to reach out to your mentor! Whether you're new in the mentoring program, a mentor who's had a mentor, or a graduate of the mentoring program, giving thanks to an employee who's contributed to your professional life really affirms your sincerity.

Also, people don't forget kindness. By recognizing the contributions from your mentor you are reinforcing that behavior to others and a light, emotional touch can be beneficial for employee engagement.

When giving your Thank You here are a few tips to remember: 

  1. Be professional, but personal: Now this doesn't mean you have to be dry, which is mistaken for professionalism. You want to be sincere, but following a "proper template" will evoke a generic tone and deprive you from your own voice. Avoid crass jokes, or crude language; instead include a common memory between the two of you or begin it with an affectionate nickname - if appropriate.
  2. Acknowledge why your thanking the mentor: This is the main reason for the letter and you want to be specific. Whether it is a certain personality trait, a situation, or the quality of the mentor relationship, being direct is the way to go. For example: "I really appreciated you taking the time guiding me with [client] when I began working here. You helped build me to be the person I am today." 
  3. Show action: Perhaps with the guidance you've received from your mentoring relationship, you have now become the mentor yourself, or have received that coveted promotion. These are all things you have gained because of your mentor and you should communicate the benefits received from their mentoring. It will also make your mentor feel glad that they were a part of that journey with you. 
  4. Avoid email: Emails, like text messages, can be considered informal channels of communication when you are giving gratitude. If you or your mentor are typically busy, send an email requesting a ten minute phone call or meeting. If you are someone who's more emotionally reserved, a handwritten letter is an equally great channel to express your thank you. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Understanding Millennial Leaders Before Mentoring

Millennials, often referred to as Generation Y, are the "hot topic" in the workforce. Using proper mentoring solutions, with acknowledging their needs, wants, and traits, an organization could have a drastic positive influence. But first it is necessary to understand these Millennials - with what they want from their organization,what their intrinsic values are and the common misconceptions of this generation that requires more patience and commitment in guidance. It is also important to remember that these Millennials are now the majority in the workplace and are moving into leadership roles (a 2013 Forbes article survey says that already half are already leaders).

So who are these new leaders?

They are leaders but feel they lack leadership experience 

Of the current Millennial leaders, only 36 percent felt they actually gained enough skills for their position (Forbes 2013). With that being said, organizations should provide exciting, fresh leadership tasks and Insala's mentoring solutions would aid this process. Using technology as a tool to manage data and information, Gen Y employees would find it easier to participate in the mentoring program as well as benefit from having a senior leader guide them in their position. 

Millennial Leaders Value Feedback, Openness, and Diversity 

They value this for themselves as leaders and also from their own superiors and organizational strategy. Gen Y grew up in an age where diversity was a norm, where human rights news and global issues were easily processed with modern technology and social media. They lived with it and fight for that diversity. 

They also value feedback, and a lot of it. However they want it in a specific way - open, clear, and want it based on performance. This is not to be perceived as constant praise, but rather a way for them to continuously tweak their abilities. Actually this is very positive because before organization's annual reviews could feel confrontational, but with constant communication it's just a "flow" between two employees and how you will work with someone. It's also beneficial because it excavates any conflicts, concerns, or ideas between each other.

They Seek Fulfillment

Millennials seek purpose - they see work as a part of life, rather than something that should be balanced therefore they want to work for an organization that they feel they have a sense of purpose. Those high expectations can be daunting for employers, however if you keep them engaged they will want to overachieve in the workplace.

Common Misconceptions of Gen Y

  1. They are more concerned with social media than engaging in conversation. While they are often referred as "digital natives" they would actually prefer to meet clients or employees face-to-face than remotely. 
  2. Everyone should be a trophy winner. Although they we're always given rewards for "participation" it is unfair to say they remain the same. These kids have grown up, they want to work for boss's that value openness and transparency far more than they value receiving recognition. What's surprising is from that same study, it was actually Gen X that believed everyone on the team should be rewarded. 
  3. They quit and move on too often. Millennials, like their predecessors, care about moving forward with their career and making a real, tangible difference. Evidence does suggest they've had more jobs, but this could easily be excused as a result from post-Recession. Creating a collaborative work environment can attract younger employees and also make them stay.
Really these individuals want to be treated as such - individuals. Without truly understanding the few basic characteristics and also clarifying common myths, mentoring would be quite difficult to do. Using the combination of Insala's individually customized technology and mentoring solutions, your organization will be able to accommodate the future of your organization and able to confront the abundance of the new generation of workforce.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5 Great Reasons You Should Volunteer as a Mentor

      When recruiting mentor volunteers in your new mentoring program a question that comes up is: why should I volunteer? Below are 5 great reasons you should volunteer and the positive effects that deliver in the mentor-mentee relationship.

     The "Do Good" Effect 

      In a mentor-mentee relationship, the mentor whose volunteered, receives reciprocal effects on their own career by investing time in another's as well as investing in the future of their organization. 

Working together for the purpose of developing another individual can be highly motivating. This assumption is supported by research that states that mentors often get satisfaction and confirmation through helping less experienced individuals in their development. In general, happier people often "do good for others." Applying this by helping others in your company by mentoring junior employees, many mentors have reported an increase in feelings of self-worth due to contributing to their mentee and their organization through the mentoring partnership. Opening doors and transmitting values and skills gives rise to personal satisfaction and also satisfaction by influencing the development of an another individual.  

When a mentor invests time in the mentee's careers, he/she obtains an added benefit to his/her own career through many advantages like improving own skills, recognition, grooming future successors (adding network), and star-maker. For example, getting a job completed through a mentee builds one's organizational reputation for task completion. Moreover, the mentor may become identified as a "star-maker" which can attract additional high quality mentees to the mentor's department. In addition there is some type of good feeling when you see someone grow and advance in their career, especially when you know that you were an influence in helping the individual move forward. 

A Fresh Perspective 

When you receive feedback from the mentee you are also gaining a fresh, "newer" perspective though the interaction and also an opportunity to reflect on your own practices. 

Many times we can become stale in the way we do things - and often newer, especially Millenials, employees bring in new, creative ways to address specific issues. Mentors frequently find that well trained mentees provide significant assistance in the implementation of new programs, provide a fresh perspective on ideas for current and future projects, and supply a source of feedback for existing programs and policies. 

Receiving Valuable Feedback 

      You are able to retrieve valuable information in your mentor-mentee relationship and also an increase of general awareness. 
      Mentoring helps participants to keep "in touch" with other needs and, thus, they gain an overall wider perspective on global organizational problems. Valued information may be gained through the association with certain mentees, which may pertain to the organization as a whole, to a specific division or department or program, or also to an individual or a group of individuals. At a minimum, the association with various mentees increase the mentor's power base and thus, may directly facilitate a mentor's upward movement. 

     Improvement in Mentor's Skills

Individuals feel challenged, stimulated, and creative when providing mentoring functions - as they become more "senior" with wisdom to share. Please note that this has nothing to do with age, but rather the subject-matter-expert level of knowledge one obtains. Working with someone else challenges teh mentor to improve his/her own skills like: interpersonal skills, problem solving, or specific expertise, and especially communication skills. 

      The mentor's confidence in his/her own abilities and the overall subject matter competence can be increased though teaching someone else. By teaching one's own practices and knowledge, personal abilities are rehearsed, practiced and improved. 

     Exposure to Diversity and to More People 

One of the best ways to get to know others throughout an organization is through mentoring partnership. Many times throughout our working careers we get to know our colleagues casually. But through a mentoring partnership you get to now someone on a deeper level - through sharing thoughts and concepts. 

Mentoring promotes the concept of a matching and pairing based upon developmental needs and not interpersonal likes and similarities. There is more of a chance of getting to know other individuals that aren't like oneself - and therefore supports diversity and inclusion.

Within most organizations there is a great storehouse of talent that may never be recognized because one only interacts with those individuals that directly affect his/her job. By having a mentoring partnership with an individual that is outside of one's own function, you are able to observe many different individuals and obtain insight into their talents. A common comment, many times repeated by a mentor, when the mentoring initiative is implemented is, "I never knew we had so much talent in this organization. We seem to be concerned about our future and I think we have great talent right here." Or by the mentee, "I had no idea that the development I needed was right here in our own organization. I assumed I had to go outside to get it."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why Even Mentor?

With the start of a new year, January also pivots the beginning of National Mentoring Month and as experts in mentoring and career development solutions, Insala will be providing information encompassing what makes a person a qualified mentorwhat makes a successful mentoring initiative, and the benefits that mentoring can bring to your organization.
To begin our series, we explore what are some varying focuses a mentor can take outside of traditional career pathing.
Mentoring can take many different focuses outside of just career pathing.  As an example, mentoring inspires new employees, guides the light bulb "aha!" moments and cultivates a higher feeling of engagement within the organization. Another example illustrates that some individuals that have been with the organization for a longer period of time, may not be aware of some of the latest technology advances. In reverse mentoring it allows possibly new or younger individuals within the organization to act as mentors and provide fresh, innovative ideas and guidance with the buzz of social media.

The legacy that a mentor relationship provides can carry out to the next mentor relationship and very similar to the film Pay It Forward, the knowledge transferred from each other will continue to expand to more people. 

Mentoring creates a bond between individuals in certain points in their life and channels information that is often impossible to achieve without experience in the field.  It eases the trial and error that can cost an organization more money than wanted. Mentoring relationships provide information that can't be written down or learned during training and is relatively free. It's also proven to work - more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies have some sort of mentoring program in place. So really the questions is - why not even mentor?