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, June 9, 2015

How to Make Sure Mentors Are Capable

In one of our previous webinars, attendees indicated they qualified mentors in the following ways: 

It should be said upfront that while it's great that there's a prevalence of managers and executives who are targeting mentors to participate in mentoring programs, that doesn't mean that these selected mentors:

  • Are willing to be mentors in the first place
  • Have the necessary skills to be a mentor - especially around communication
  • Understand what goals they should be helping to guide their mentees to achieve.

That's why those respondents indicating that they either don't qualify mentors (25%) or that anyone can be a mentor as long as they apply (16%) is also concerning. There needs to be some manner of mentor qualification, even if the mentoring program is open to the entire organization. 

Where's a good place to start, you may be wondering? The people using mentor training (26%) and competency assessments (22%) are on the right track. For best results, use both to reinforce each other. 

And if you are among those whose program qualifies mentors through manager and executive selection, you're on the right track - but take it one step further. 

Learn more about mentor training.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How Do You Measure Mentoring?

Perhaps the biggest trend that we saw in our 2015 Mentoring Benchmarking Survey (stay tuned for the full report) was the 50-point lead feedback surveys had over any other method when it comes to measuring mentoring program effectiveness.

We tend not to get asked "why" anyone should bother measuring mentoring, but "how" it can be done. And we do get that question a lot.

We've talked a lot about the value of measuring mentoring both qualitatively and quantitatively, but the fact is that it's oftentimes just easier for organizations to measure qualitatively. That's why seeing that feedback surveys are the predominating method of measuring mentoring isn't a shock at all.

However, that fifty point lead does give us pause. Especially when combined with the fact that the most reported pain of mentoring programs is - you guessed it - improving the evaluation process.

We invite you to our upcoming webinar "The 'Secret Sauce' to Mentoring in 2015" on June 25 to learn more about these results, but we also encourage you to look into options to help you measure your mentoring program quantitatively. Whether that's a form of mentoring software or something more low key or low budget, it's an important component of your mentoring process - for you, your participants, and your leadership and stakeholders.

Learn more about how mentoring software can help you measure mentoring. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to Manage a Transitioning Workforce

For all of you who couldn’t get out to Orlando for ATD 2015 this month, here’s a recap of Judy Corner’s presentation.

You’re currently investing too much in employees to let that investment go every time an employee relocates, is promoted, or leaves the company entirely. So the question is, how can we handle talent shifting around?

When it comes to people leaving the organization entirely, that’s a conversation that corporate alumni programs are handling. But when it comes to the employees that are remaining in the organization, you’re facing three questions:

  • How are you going to get your people actively shifting up to speed and adjusted in their new environment?
  • How are you going to get the people in that new environment adjusted along with the person who shifted?
  • How are you going to deal with the situation the shifters leave behind – e.g., who will be filling their old shoes, and what preparation will they have for their new role or addition of responsibilities to their current role?

The Workforce in Transition

The workforce is in a period of drastic transition that isn’t going away anytime soon. This makes the subject of institutional knowledge transfer even more timely and necessary to discuss.

  • Baby Boomers – post World War II baby boom. 250,000 per month turning 65 every month. This will continue until 2035. 
  • Generation X – moving into leadership and upper management positions
  • Generation Y – Currently make up 225% of the workforce. By 2020, expected to make up 40% of the workforce. 
  • Generation Z – Make up 10% of the workforce, but coming up fast.

Bear in mind that all employees – not just Gen Y/Millennials segment – are staying with their organizations for shorter and shorter periods of time. Add to this the fact that employees are also taking career development opportunities when and where they become available – even if that’s outside of their current organization. Now that the economy is in a recovery, they can afford more and more to do so.

It’s not enough for just HR to understand the generational differences – but don’t get us wrong, it’s definitely very important for HR to understand and champion methods to overcome those differences. But those methods are by necessity going to have to be team efforts, meaning that all employees from all generations must be able to communicate with and learn from each other.

Mentoring Facilitates Employee Transition

In our recent Mentoring Benchmarking Survey, when asked to indicate the top two primary objectives of their mentoring programs, respondents indicated that “Institutional knowledge sharing or transfer” was the third most frequent objective, at 30.8% of respondents. Taking first and second place as top objectives, unsurprisingly, were “leadership or high potential development” and “skill development”. (Stay tuned for the release of the full survey report at the end of this quarter.)

So while growth and effectiveness take top priority – once again, not surprising in a recovering economy – preservation of institutional knowledge is still a top priority.

But the fact is that they can and should all be working together, and mentoring is an excellent vehicle to make that happen. Why?

  • It’s skills-focused and culture-specific.
  • It provides practical and just-in-time learning with specific goals.
  • It helps the learner (the mentee) avoid pitfalls, as the mentor has been there and done that already.

Learn more about how mentoring can help your organization through this time of transition, with mentoring program planning and mentoring training

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Women in Presidential Politics: Mentoring in Public Policy

Run a search in Google for “Hillary Clinton and mentoring” and you’ll find a lot of articles about the many mentors Clinton has had throughout her life. These range from her liberal Methodist minister, to her mother Dorothy Rodham, to her conservative high school history teacher, and beyond.

Of course, most of these articles are written for the purpose of linking Clinton to a particular influence or ideology for some underlying political reason.

Regardless, the fact that she’s had so many mentors speaks a lot to how she’s been able to become a major player in international politics (from influential First Lady, to two-time senator of New York, to Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term); but her dedication to the importance of mentoring is also pretty clearly demonstrated in her public policy.

Mentoring in Hillary Clinton's Public Policy

Like Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, Clinton’s most recent initiatives tend to focus on empowering women. Unsurprisingly, Clinton’s initiatives take a global viewpoint.

Her “No Ceilings Project” is the latest of such ventures, and is a global initiative to use big data to pinpoint progress towards specific women’s issues in countries around the world. Here are a few others:

  • TechWomen: Aims to help women in the Middle East and Africa to pursue technology based careers by providing mentors from the Silicon Valley and San Francisco in the US. 
  • Women in Public Service Project: A part of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, which mobilizes women through public service. Mentoring is a part of the initiative’s learning and leadership development goal – and one for which Insala’s own Judy Corner delivered a networking and mentoring workshop
  • Global Sports Mentoring Program: A collaboration between the State Department and espnW, this initiative seeks to identity women worldwide who are emerging leaders in sports and match them with American women who are leaders in this fields to nurture the next generation of women in sports. But like Fiorina's tendencies towards grassroots leadership, Clinton stresses that envoys will also be employed to talk and play with girls and women one-on-one. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Don’t Forget to Promote Your Mentoring Program

In a recent webinar, we asked attendees the following question and received the following results:

Those results are shockingly polar between “Yes” and “Not Sure.” Our poll questions about how mentoring programs are promoted in organizations generally return a fairly high percentage of people who indicate that they’re “Not Sure” one way or the other how they’re promoting their mentoring program. This indicates the greater overall trend that mentoring programs tend to be very underpromoted in their organizations, and supports our own anecdotal evidence that there tends to be a lot of miscommunication and misconceptions in mentoring programs that don’t have a communication and/or marketing plan set up from the get-go.

But because these results are so heavily weighted toward two extremes, we wanted to take the opportunity to comment on them.

Here’s our response, no matter where you fall in that spectrum.

Yes, we promote our mentoring program as an effective way to transfer knowledge. 

Good for you! You already understand a) the importance of positioning and marketing your mentoring program, and b) how important and attractive knowledge transfer is in the current workforce’s transitional climate.

No, we don’t promote our mentoring program as an effective way to transfer knowledge. 

Targeting knowledge transfer as an objective – even if it’s ancillary to other objectives such as leadership development, skill development, onboarding, etc. – means that not only mentors and mentees, but also your leadership, are more aware of and focused on how their role in the mentoring program can help a) insulate the organization from shocks that result when individuals leave, and b) grow and strengthen the organization even through those shocks.

I’m not sure whether we do or not.

Find out the following:

  • What are my mentoring program’s current objectives?
  • How do we talk about the mentoring program to leadership?
  • How do we talk about the mentoring program to mentors and mentees?
  • How do mentors, mentees, and leadership all view the mentoring program?
You may find that there are some significant gaps in either a) your communication to mentors, mentees, and/or your leadership, or b) how your mentors, mentees, and/or leaders think and talk about the mentoring program amongst themselves.

Mixed messages can be a death sentence for your mentoring program. If you're not sure of any of the above, find out now.

Still have more questions? Try reading our article Mentoring For Knowledge Transfer.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Women in Presidential Politics: Leading from the Bottom Up

Earlier this week, Carly Fiorina declared that she was running for president as a GOP candidate.

Despite the fact that she’s campaigning on the fact that she has little-to-no political experience (save her advising John McCain in 2008 and running against Barbara Boxer for senator of California in 2010), what she has done tells us a lot about her and her philosophy: (Source)

Her Initiatives

Fiorina has been at the helm of the One Woman Initiative since 2008, and the Unlocking Potential Project (also known as the UP Project) since 2011.

One Woman Initiative is focused on supporting grassroots organizations that empower women in predominately Muslim countries. Says Fiorina, “Investments in women can lift entire families out of poverty, transform communities, and foster peace and prosperity, we are particularly sensitive to the potential of women in Muslim majority countries, at this watershed moment, when family and community stability can contribute to the peace and security we all seek.” (Source)

UP Project is itself a grassroots campaign aimed at organizing, educating, and exciting conservative women in battleground states to turn out the vote. Says Fiorina, “All the data says that people are most persuaded by people they know. We are going to engage people in the communities where they live and work, train them where they are, and measure the results so we know what's working... And that's what works. And it particularly works with women. They are persuaded by other women they know.” (Source)

The key word here? “Grassroots.”

How She Sees Her Career Story

Fiorina speaks often about her rise to CEO of HP as having started with a mentor seeing that she was capable of being more than a secretary. Having taken a meandering path to get her even to that first job as secretary – that involved obtaining a degree in medieval studies from Stanford, teaching English in Italy, and going to and then leaving law school – she highlights that “The truth is that most Americans get their start this way: in little businesses put together by entrepreneurs.” (Source)

"You can learn from every interaction. You can learn from absolutely everybody," she has said. (Source)


Here are our three initial takeaways:

  1. Individual accountability is important to our individual lives as well as the greater picture around us. Each person is responsible for their own future, as well as the future they want to see in the world around them. You can't underestimate the power of individuals to make a change for themselves and their communities around them. Learning can happen anywhere, as long as we're open to it, and how we can apply it.
  2. Mentors matter. As necessary as it is to hold ourselves individually accountable, mentors who can not only recognize, but nurture, potential are equally if not more important.
  3. Telling our stories is important. They matter to the people whose story it is, to the people who need to hear that that story is possible in their own lives, and to the people who can help other people achieve it but need the right push to get out there and do it. 
Are you similarly inspired?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Leadership and Mentorship: An Upward Trend

Leadership and Mentorship

In a poll taken at our most recent webinar “Mentoring for Knowledge Transfer in the Multigenerational Workplace”, our attendees indicated that mentorship for leadership development was overwhelmingly the main focus of their mentoring program.

Take a look at the full results below:

leadership and mentorship

Looking at Insala’s other benchmarking data, this is in line with an increase in organizational focus on leadership development. Just 11% of respondents to a survey in 2010 reported that leadership development was their main focus of their mentoring program, while 49.5% of respondents to our now-closed 2015 survey indicated that leadership development was one of their two top objectives. (Stay tuned for the release of the full survey report at the end of June.)

Since the economy is in a period of growth again, it makes sense that organizations are likewise focusing on organizational growth as a priority, and they’re doing it smartly by ensuring that they have a pool of leadership-ready individuals to fill and grow the succession pipeline.

Aligning Leadership and Mentorship

But whether you’re specifically in charge of a mentoring program or broadly in charge of learning initiatives at your organization, it’s important to remember that there are multiple moving parts to an organization’s leadership development trajectory; a mentoring program focused on leadership development, as this Fast Company article suggests, will have best results if it is aligned with other ongoing leadership development activities in your organization.

While you can and should look externally from your mentoring program to see how you might facilitate or coordinate this, you absolutely must look internal to your mentoring program and ensure that your mentors’ goals are aligned with your overall organizational goal of mentee leadership development.

Learn how mentor training can help your mentors get leadership-ready individuals in your pipeline.