The Hidden Job Market in Your Corporate Alumni Program

You can bet that your alumni will be in transition not just once, but over and over and over again – which is good news for you.

It's Not the Ceiling You Should Be Worried About

There are exponentially more opportunities for career movement at the base of the pyramid than toward the top.

The Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Provide Outplacement Services

Obviously, you could simply say goodbye to your former employees, and maybe give them a severance package; but here are the top six reasons why you shouldn’t just leave it at that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Organizational Heartbreak: Why Are Employees Leaving You?

When experiencing a breakup, one party is often left full of self-doubt and unanswered questions. Organizations ruminate on these same questions when employees decide to breakup with them too.  Why did the employee leave?  Was it something we did wrong?  Could it have been avoided?  Were they just not satisfied?  Just like a romantic breakup, examining and analyzing the reasons for leaving is critical for growth and development.  However, unlike a romantic breakup, organizations have the luxury of using surveys and exit-interviews to better understand what went wrong along the way.

One of the first steps to better understanding employees’ reasoning behind exiting an organization is identifying what types of quitters you’re dealing with.  Research has shown that five different types of quitters dependent on the presence of other job offers, preplanning, and conditional events exist (impulsive quitters, comparison quitters, preplanned quitters, conditional quitters, and satisficing quitters) along three dimensions of turnover (voluntary vs. involuntary, functional vs. dysfunctional, and avoidable vs. unavoidable.)  So don’t worry, managers, it’s not always your fault.  However, there are areas for improvement that may increase the likelihood of employees remaining committed.

Two of the often-cited reasons for exiting an organization are low employee engagement and low supervisory support.  Employee engagement is exemplified by energized, dedicated, and involved employees.  This may be increased through manager-led group meetings, empowerment, and challenging assignments.

Additionally, supervisors may show support for their workers through valuation.  Simply organizing tasks and lending an ear can increase perceived supervisory support and retention rates.  Implementing mentorship programs in which senior-level organizational members and junior-level organizational members are paired can also decrease turnover intentions.  In addition to developing strong workplace relationships between the participants, the junior-level employees receive frame-of-reference training shown to be more effective and cost efficient than learning within a classroom setting.

So don’t fret.  Partaking in these workplace behaviors and attitudes can increase your likelihood of keeping your valued employees by your side.

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

STARTER GUIDE: Overcoming the Obstacles to Starting Your Mentoring Program

Maybe you're getting a mentoring program started for the first time at your organization; or perhaps you've undertaken the responsibility of restarting one that already existed, but didn't do as well as planned.

No matter what the specifics of your situation, there are a few common obstacles that you'll likely run into.

Here's a step-by-step walk-through to getting your mentoring program up off the ground, and running successfully:

Mentoring Obstacle #1: We Won't Have Enough Resources

It’s never about how big or small your organization is, or even how big your mentoring program is – it’s always about the resources allocated proportionally to planning, implementing, and running it. It’s a big job. I’ve seen programs stymie over fewer than 25 pairs – but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #2: We Won't Get Buy-In From Leadership

No matter how few resources are allocated to your mentoring program, you’ll still need sign-off and approval for their allocation. Whether that means administrators, training, technology, or something else, you’ll need buy-in – and you’ll need it from more people than you probably expect. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #3: Our Participants Won't Know What to Do

It’s not the mentors’ and mentees’ responsibility to figure out where their gaps are in understanding what exactly they need to do for the duration of the program and the mentoring partnership. Mostly because right now it may be just one big gap. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #4: Your Participants' Misconceptions About Mentoring

Your mentoring program participants are skeptical of your mentoring program, whether they’re telling you so or not. Here’s what they’re thinking, and how you can assuage their fears. Read more...

Mentoring Obstacle #5: External Pressures Are Threatening Our Program's Funding

There are always reasons for your mentoring program to be cut, or never take off at all. I’m not saying they’re good reasons, because most of the time they’re not. Read more...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mentoring Obstacle #5: External Pressures Are Threatening Our Funding

There are always reasons for your mentoring program to be cut, or never take off at all. I’m not saying they’re good reasons, because most of the time they’re not.

For example:
  1. The economy
  2. Budget cuts
  3. Organizational issues (such as layoffs, mergers/acquisitions, or organizational restructuring)
They’re all interrelated, and all come down to one thing – your organization is short on the money it needs to fund all of its activities, including yours. Some things will get cut, and some won’t.

The sad fact is that training and development is often the first thing to go when budget cuts come around, so it’s a very legitimate fear to have.

Don’t Get Body Slammed By a Lowland Gorilla

There’s a pretty funny series of ads by DirectTV that follows a cable subscriber through an unfortunate series of events that end disastrously – all because they made the wrong decision and didn’t know it.

If we’re talking about a (reasonable) series of unfortunate events that could happen to you and your mentoring program, you know that your potential disaster is your funding being cut. Every other possible disaster, including those related to recruiting mentoring participants or educating them as to their roles, is just a prelude to this one.

Maybe you won’t be body slammed by a lowland gorilla – but the end result of failing to plan from the beginning still won’t be pretty:

When you don’t plan, you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program.

When you don’t build measurements into your mentoring program, you can’t prove ROI.

When you can’t prove ROI, you can’t make the case to keep your funding. 

When you can’t make the case to keep your funding, your program gets cut.

Don’t let your mentoring program be cut. Start planning your mentoring program today.

Your Step by Step Plan to Keep Your Mentoring Program from Being Cut

Your step by step guide to keep this series of unfortunate events from ever happening is as follows:

  1. Ensure that all stakeholders take your mentoring program seriously by planning and presenting it as a business strategy from the get-go. 
  2. Build measurements into your mentoring program before implementation.
  3. Record the appropriate data during the program.
  4. Prove your program’s success and ROI.
  5. Make the case to keep your funding.
  6. Don’t get cut.

But How Do I Measure Mentoring?

If you’ve been following this blog series, you know that we’ve had four blogs just dedicated to Step #1, when this blog is the last of the series. (You can find links to the others at the bottom of this post.)

“Why the disproportionate emphasis on presenting mentoring as a business strategy?” you may be wondering. “And what does any of this have to do with how I can measure mentoring when that’s all I really want to know?”

The answer to both: It’s not disproportionate at all, since Step #1 is the foundation of Steps #2-6.

Most organizations that don’t measure mentoring quantitatively decide to measure it qualitatively at the end instead – mostly because it’s very easy to get qualitative data from program participants. Did they like it? Did they get along with their mentor? Do they feel like they learned what they set out and agreed to learn?

And with this method, sure, you can learn what they believe and feel about how they came out of the mentoring program - but that has absolutely no bearing on the strategy or success of your organization. There’s no way of knowing if these participants have made any developmental progress from an L&D standpoint, and there’s no way to show senior management or leadership what the objective organizational impact is, let alone why the organization should continue to invest in your mentoring program.

Good Reasons for Your Mentoring Program to Be Cut Do Not Include…

The national and/or world economy is not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Budget cuts are not a good enough reason for your program to be cut. Organizational issues certainly aren’t a good enough reason for your program to be cut.


Because when money is tighter, and the organization has restructured, downsized, or merged, talent needs to stretch as far as it can. That takes development and investment, yes – but if you do it the right way, it will absolutely pay off.

But I don’t have to tell you this, because you already know it. Just make sure that you have the right tools to help you convince the right people when push comes to shove.

 Previous posts in this series by mentoring training expert Judy Corner:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Social Selling and Brand Ambassadors

Social selling is a new term for me; in fact, I just downloaded my first song last week! I am a millennial that feels behind the technological times at least twice a week, but if I can understand the importance of social selling, so can you! For a great source on how this has changed in the last decade, go to this helpful fact sheet from Pew Research Center.

The customer/salesperson relationship is much different from when I was younger. Mom would take my younger sister and me to shop for school clothes. It would end up being an all-day affair with my sister throwing fits and me hating to try on pants with mom; who would insist on checking for fit by tugging on back to see how much space she could find between my pants and my back…so embarrassing. As you can see from the picture, we didn’t even have enough focus to last through one photo, let alone a day of shopping! (I’m pretty sure that my shirt is tucked into my pants because I was doing gymnastics in the front yard - it’s hard to say.)

Shopping is a little different now; you can shop for pants online in a matter of minutes from where ever you happen to be. If you need help with something, no need to call the store to talk with someone, there are online salespeople to help you right then!

Social selling integrates social media into the selling conversation. That’s it. It has become a business must have because it allows customers access to product content and be a part of the conversation. It empowers customers to drive the products that companies produce, by giving feedback and shaping product development. It won’t cost hardly anything to implement! For more specifics on Return On Investment (ROI) see Debra Ekerling’s article on the subject.

Some new areas where social selling is getting involved are in alumni programs and with brand ambassadors. Alumni programs are using social selling to increase donation and connections, for more on this see Dayna Catropa's advice. Brand ambassadors are employees or customers that advocate for the brand. This can include being a sound board for ideas or catastrophes, for more on this topic see Holly Pavlika's thoughts.

There are four easy steps according to Andzulis et al. (2012), he suggests first to create a social media presence, and then get customers involved in the conversation through blogs and forums. The final two steps involve integrating the sales strategy into social media. The degree to which it is integrated depends on the business needs. One area that is lacking is training for using this new way of selling. I encourage you to incorporate that into the implementation steps. There is one thing that is for sure though, I will be using social selling in the future for my children’s shopping!

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Scoring the Most Points: Why You Should Use Mentoring In Your Organization

Aaron Rodgers is said to be one of the best rookie quarterbacks his first season playing as a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers not only because of his natural talent, but because he had been mentored by former quarterback Brett Favre.

Rodgers watched and learned from Favre on and off the field for three years. Rodgers learned about how to read defenses, practice habits, calling audibles, and how to become a leader for his team. Favre would offer leadership advice such as always being held accountable and taking the blame. In addition to Favre spent time teaching Rodgers how he got successful.

Similar to the how Favre mentored Rodgers to become a successful quarterback and leader to his team, organizations are engaging in corporate mentoring programs. Mentoring is traditionally defined as an established relationship between an individual with more experience or skill in the organization and an individual with less skill or who is new to an organization with the purpose of educating the individual with less skill on a job using the more experienced individual as a guide. However, organizational mentoring has been evolving in the last several years - here's a few examples as to how.

Mentoring programs can be formal, where the organization takes a leading role in pairing mentors and mentees, or informal, similar to Rodgers and Favre’s relationship where they mutually agreed to form the relationship.

The objectives and challenges for a mentoring program can vary according to whether an organization chooses to implement a formal or informal mentoring program. However, unlike Rodgers and Favre’s person-to-person mentoring relationship most organizations are moving to a technology based mentoring program, such as e-mentoring. Whether implementing a person-to-person mentoring program or an e-mentoring program the future remains bright for corporate mentoring programs, so jump on the bandwagon organizations and start your own.

Just as a mentoring relationship helped Aaron Rodgers lead his team to a Super Bowl championship, it can help your organization become a champion as well.  Score the most points possible by having your new and low skilled employees learn from your already thriving and established employees through a mentoring relationship!

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Your Alumni Brand Ambassadors: Production and Leverage

Corporations are the new alma maters: companies are retaining and managing their connections with ex-employees (corporate alumni) in a trend dubbed “corporate social networking” (CSN). Corporate branding has become more indicative of competitive market advantage than product branding.

Alumni admiration and identification with brand values create unconscious brand support. They “live the brand,” which means their behavior aligns with company values and culture. Alumni can provide free advertising and services, which oftentimes lead to increased profits and productivity.

Production of Alumni Brand Ambassadors

An organization should begin molding their employees into brand ambassadors their very first day of employment. Companies should strive to support positive social culture within their organization, which creates employee satisfaction. When an employee perceives their job positively, their organizational commitment increases. Committed workers tend to identify with the brand’s value, thus fostering brand loyalty within an employee. After an employee exits an organization, they retain those positive feelings for their former employer, thus becoming alumni brand ambassadors.

Companies can manage their alumni relations by hosting networking events, or creating online CSNs. Online CSNs provide a wherein alumni and employees can interact.

Leverage of Alumni Brand Ambassadors

In bad economies, companies can use their CSN to re-hire ex-employees (boomerang hiring). Alumni brand ambassadors unintentionally aid their former employer’s selection process, because they naturally embody information about the corporate brand, which applicants can use to gauge their organizational fit.

The strength of the alumni demographic in a CSN also serves to develop a company’s reputational capital, which can (a) shield a company from rivals, (b) elevate the company’s status, and (c) build partnerships among companies.

This post is one of four contributed by Masters students from the I/O Psychology program at the University of Texas at Arlington. To learn about the partnership between Insala and UTA, please watch this video.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mentoring Obstacle #4: Your Participants' Misconceptions About Mentoring

Your mentoring program participants are skeptical of your mentoring program, whether they’re telling you so or not. Here’s what they’re thinking, and how you can assuage their fears.

“I don’t have time to do this.”

The reality is that everyone is short of time. Just look at the reports of the average employee receiving 100-200 emails per day – on top of the rest of the work that they have to do.

But oftentimes it’s less an issue of what we have time for, and more an issue of what we make time for – and we do make time for our priorities. Your mentors, mentees, and their managers have to understand that this is something they can’t afford not to make a priority.

Make the business case for mentoring to them, but don’t stop there. Make it personal. Ask them to consider that the whole point of the program is to develop people in their area – which will mean more people, increased efficiency, and eventually more time for them.

“I don’t want to be this person’s mentor forever.” 

Another common misconception is that if you sign up to be a mentor, it’s a lifetime commitment, rather than the 9-12 month formal mentoring commitment that you’re actually asking of them.

Make this clear from the start: mentors and mentees are not required to continue any commitment to each other beyond the timeframe of your formal program. This should alleviate a lot of worry for your commitment-phobes.

Though let’s be fair - commitment-phobia is perfectly normal in this instance. Your mentors and mentees may only know each other in passing, or may not even know each other at all. They are not specifically seeking one another out. They’re being matched based on competencies and ability to encourage development.

Just be sure to remind them that they are not being forced into anything. And furthermore, if they do feel forced, they shouldn’t participate.

“This will have no value for me.” 

Benefits for both mentors and mentees come down to two things: a) developmental opportunities, and b) seeing how their organization works from a new perspective.

Here are some actual quotes from some of the mentors and mentees from programs we’ve helped facilitate:

From mentors:
  • “I gained lots of insights on things happening in the company that I normally would not have known about.  And a better appreciation for the routine things our employees are dealing with.”
  • “[I appreciated] the chance to work with mentees who were looking for an alternate point of view concerning their development needs and goals.”
  • “[I appreciated] meeting the individual and learning their perspective.  Helping them find new ways of looking at things.”
From mentees:
  • “[It was helpful] having a safe environment to openly discuss my development areas, and bounce potential approaches for changes in the way I work.”
  • “It was helpful to have a formalized way to match with a mentor - rather than have to pursue informally.”
  • “The opportunity to solicit a new perspective. It took me out of the day to day but was still relevant. I can't find the words to express how much value the monthly face to face meetings became in my overall development and to help lift my outlook.  Each and every meeting provided some nugget of inspiration.”
  • “I really appreciated being connected with someone in the company that I didn't have prior experience with. She was very helpful.”

“I’m not qualified enough to do this."

Because mentoring is often used as a developmental tool to aid succession planning efforts, one of the primary misconceptions about being a mentor is that you have to be at a certain level within your organization in order to help individuals move up within the organization.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what level a mentor is in their organization. Mentoring is about development first and foremost – any goals of getting a mentee to move up in the organization are secondary to the mentee’s development. A mentor is qualified to be a mentor:

  • has the necessary skills to teach their mentee, 
  • is able to teach them, and 
  • is willing to be a mentor.
There’s a lot more to say about how misconceptions play into mentors and mentee’s fears, and I’ll say more about that in the next blog.

Have you run into any of these challenges? Let us know.

 Other posts in this series:
Judy Corner is an expert in mentoring training and creation and implementation of corporate mentoring programs.