Business Mentoring Insights

  • Your Mentoring Questions Answered-Matching Pairs

      I received this email the other day from a mentoring program manager (MPM) and wanted to share my response with all of you as it illustrates some of the challenges that exist with new programs. Read more

    Mon, Mar, 25, 2013

  • Identifying Model Program Managers for Your Mentoring Program

      We all know that managers can make or break an organization. The same is true for your mentoring program. So what should you look for when identifying your Mentoring Program Manager (MPM)? Think the three C's: credibility, compassion and "confident" common sense. Read more

    Fri, Feb, 15, 2013

  • Tips on Mentor and Mentee's Communication Style

    Most of us use different styles of communication. We'll communicate differently with our kids than we would with our employers. Often, our communication style depends upon the situation itself--what style will work best under these circumstances? The same holds true in mentoring relationships. Understanding different communication styles (and when to use them) will make for a more effective and enjoyable relationship. Below, we address four styles--what they are, when to use them, and things to keep in mind. Read more

    Wed, Feb, 13, 2013

  • The Role of Mentors in Talent Reviews

    I was recently training a group of mentors who are at the Vice President level when the issue came up about what role does a mentor play in talent review?  In other words, should a mentor provide feedback during talent review of his/her mentee in addition to having the mentee's manager provide feedback? Read more

    Tue, Feb, 05, 2013

  • Corporate Mentoring Communication Tips

    In those early meetings between mentors and mentorees, it can feel a little awkward -- for both parties -- as each person learns how to communicate with the other. One of the goals of these meetings is to have enriching discussions, so we thought we'd offer four communication tips that will help move the conversations forward into enrichment territory. The beauty of these tips is that you can use them in most relationships, not just mentoring. 1. Ask open-ended questions. The way to launch good discussions is by asking open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions. Yes/No: "Are you happy in your position?" Open-ended: What three things do you like best about your current position? Notice how the open-ended question will lead into other open-ended questions: What are the biggest challenges you're facing in your position? What are your goals over the next 12 months? 2. Practice mirroring. This is an important technique in communication since it helps avoid misinterpretations. When you "mirror" what someone says, you're repeating it back to the person as you understand it. So if you're a mentoree and your mentor is making a suggestion about how to handle a particular challenge you're facing, you'd start by saying, "So it sounds like you're recommending that I do X. Does that sound right?" This technique works if you're the mentor as well. "It sounds like the biggest challenge you're facing is X. Does that sound right?" By framing the question this way, it allows the speaker to evaluate whether you understood his/her message -- and to offer clarification in case there was a misunderstanding. 3. Use verbal nodding. In addition to nonverbal gestures (e.g. making eye contact, nodding your head), verbal nodding also reinforces the fact that you're listening and following along in the conversation. Verbal nodding includes phrases like "Right" or "Yes" or "Mm" or "What happened next?" 4. Provide validations. When people are talking about things that are important to them -- such as their work life and careers -- they want to be heard. In other words, they want the person who is listening to know how important the topic is to the speaker. As the listener, the way to show you "get this" is by providing validation. For example, if your mentoree is discussing a difficult incident that happened over the last week, you might respond by saying, "Wow. That sounds like it was really hard." And then follow up with an open-ended question, such as "How did you feel about it the next day?" or "Now that you've had time to think about it, what would you have done differently?" The validation shows that you heard the speaker and acknowledged his or her feelings. The follow-up question moves the discussion forward. Give these tips a try the next time you get together with your mentor/mentoree (or with a friend/family member) and see how it helps foster discussion. Read more

    Fri, Feb, 01, 2013

  • Understanding Mentoring Matchmaking

    We choose our friends. We choose our significant others. So shouldn't we choose our mentors or mentees? Well, consider this matchmaking scenario: Roberta works in the marketing department of Company ABC, which promotes an appreciation for cultural diversity. Roberta is smart but also nervous about all the traveling she must do. She gets along well with Jane, the local sales manager. It's Jane's first job out of college, but she's worked her way from account executive to local sales manager in just two years. Roberta and Jane are the same age, share similar values, and have great chemistry. Jane would like to mentor Roberta, and Roberta agrees. After all, the two are friends and often socialize with one another. Read more

    Fri, Jan, 25, 2013

  • Business Mentoring Tips: Saving a Match

      Despite following best practices and making careful matches, you'll occasionally encounter a mentor and mentee who will struggle in their mentoring relationship. Take heart, and don't panic: this happens to the most competent program managers and in the most effective programs. The good news? You might still be able to salvage the match yet.  Keep these two things in mind: Read more

    Wed, Jan, 23, 2013

  • 7 Habits of Highly Successful Mentors & Mentorees

    Two questions people often ask me: 1) Can anyone be a mentor? 2) Can anyone be mentored? Let me start with the last question. I believe anyone can be mentored if the person is open to the concept and is willing to do the work. Regarding the first question: if someone wants to be a mentor, it's possible. Mentoring skills can be learned, developed, and nurtured. That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the most effective mentoring relationships take place when the mentors and mentorees bring certain skill sets to the table. And that's the subject of this blog post. Use these 7 Habits of Highly Successful Mentors and Mentorees to identify the perfect candidates in your organization for your existing mentoring program or to show upper management that you have the right mix of people to launch a program. 1. Active Listeners. Active listening takes energy. People who listen actively don't simply sit back and allow words to hit their eardrums. They sit up straight. They take notes. They ask questions. They repeat or "mirror back" what they've heard to ensure they've understood it properly. Active listeners are the ones who provide non-verbal gestures (e.g. eye contact, nodding, etc.) that indicate they're following (or not following) what you're saying. Why is this habit important? Mentors and mentorees spend much of their relationship talking and listening to one another. Active listening is critical for both parties. 2. Dedicated to Their Success. I'm not suggesting that people should have a myopic view and are dedicated to only their own success. What I'm saying is that people who take pride in their work, who want to grow, and who truly care about their career trajectory are assets because of their high expectations. Why is this habit important? It stands to reason that people who are dedicated to their own career success will want to make the most out of their involvement in the corporate mentoring program. The most effective mentors and mentorees are people who are dedicated to the idea of making their relationship work. 3. Dedicated to Others' Success. I put the "success" habits back to back so that it's clear they work in tandem. The most successful (and happiest) people in life are not in it just for themselves. They care about the organization and the people within that organization and have a genuine desire to see everyone and everything succeed: the company, the employees, and the mentoring program as a whole. Why is this habit important? People who realize that "it's not all about me" are much more willing to make a genuine investment in the mentoring relationship. 4. Curious. People who are naturally curious tend to follow the "if there's a will, there's a way" philosophy. If they don't know the answer or if they need help with something, they won't sit back and wait; they'll go looking for the answers. Why is this habit important? I've found that the "curious types" are the ones who'll take the time to read articles on mentoring best practices, listen to tutorials, and seek out help from Program Managers, all of which help in making a successful mentoring relationship. 5. Engaged with their surroundings. These people view their work as more than just a job. They show interest in the industry, in the world around them, in the work that other departments are doing, and in the charitable events associated with their company. Why is this habit important? Having a "big picture" view of the world allows people to see how the success of their mentoring relationship affects more than just the two people in the relationship. 6. Willing to step out of their comfort zones. These people are willing to try new things, consider new thoughts, and think outside of the proverbial box for the sake of personal and professional growth. Why is this habit important? Prospective mentors and mentorees who are willing to try something new and give it a "go" will have the best chance at reaping the most benefits from the mentoring relationship. 7. The 3 R's: Responsible, Respectful, & Ready. People who are responsible, respectful, and ready to get started with new projects help make the day-to-day work experience a better one not only for themselves, but also for everyone around them. Why is this habit important? Being a mentor or mentoree requires diligence -- you need to commit to regular meetings (and actually meet), chart progress, and learn to navigate a new relationship (and all the ups and downs) with aplomb. Are there any other important "habits" that you've noticed from your involvement in corporate mentoring? Read more

    Wed, Jan, 16, 2013

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