Tuesday, June 25, 2013

OnMentoring on YouTube!

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
― Benjamin Disraeli

Do you feel stuck in your career? Are you looking to grow professionally and personally? A key factor in many successful careers is finding or becoming a mentor. My new YouTube channel, much like this blog, will cover everything from why participate in mentoring to how to find a mentor to how to be a great mentor. I'll share stories and advice on how to create and ensure a successful mentoring relationship. I also look forward to answering questions about mentoring and professional advancement just as I do here.

So if career development and mentoring is important to you then this your channel! Join me on a mentoring journey by subscribing to this channel and sharing it with friends who are also looking to move forward in their professional life.

Mentoring is all about revealing someone else's own riches to themselves and enriching oneself in the joy and satisfaction that results.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Millennials and Mentoring

Image from: http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20130620/FREE/130629990

A fellow mentor shared this article the other day entitled "Millennials want mentoring, expert says". (Millennials are people generally born somewhere from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.) That's great for them and probably very true. The article goes on to state three things I'd like to mention. Two things I agree with and one that I absolutely do not:

"The idea of mentoring has changed and does not only mean a face-to-face relationship with an older person, said Jeanne Meister author of "The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today (HarperBusiness 2010). Mentoring today often takes place over the phone or via Skype and occurs whenever the person being mentored needs some feedback or other help learning the ropes at a particular institution or industry..."
Absolutely agree here. The nature of mentoring has expanded to going beyond in person meetings. Just as all of business has evolved to finding cheaper ways to connect people with each other so too mentoring has evolved. I think this is a positive development because as a mentee you are no longer constrained by geography in your search for a great mentor.

"'A lot of companies' structured mentoring programs have failed as they have tried to put structure to something that is basically a relationship,”'

I disagree. Yes, a lot of companies' mentoring programs have failed but not because of the structure of the programs necessarily. In my opinion formal mentoring programs tend to fail when:

  1. the executive champion of said program leaves the division or company
  2. the company realizes that while mentoring is an inexpensive employee development and retention tool it still requires someone's time to launch, organize and maintain
  3. the company is unable to keep up with the demand - usually having many more mentees than mentors. 

While there isn't much that can be done with issue #1 there are however good solutions to #2 and #3 depending on the company.
"Millennials may ask some surprising questions on interviews, such as, “How long will it take to become the next CEO?” or “Do I have to wear shoes at the office?” Ms. Meister said. She recommends that firms try to look past this type of questioning."
Back to agreeing here when applied to your own mentoring conversations. This is good advice for any mentor whether your mentee is a millennial or not. Our job is not to judge every question asked necessarily but to help the mentee understand their own motivation for asking those particular questions in the first place.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Being a Memorable Boss

Image from: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/8-ways-to-be-memorable-boss.html

The saying rightfully goes: "People don't leave companies. They leave managers." That's true. Finding a great boss/manager/leader is like discovering a 10 carat diamond. Few people leave behind a 10 carat diamond even if the surrounding conditions are downright atrocious.

Many of my mentees manage other people and so are "bosses" themselves. They often consult me on a variety of people management situations. I'm always happy to help and guide them based on a set of leadership principles.

I recently came across a fantastic article entitled "8 Ways to Be a Truly Memorable Boss" by Jeff Haden. As a leader myself I found the article to cover the same principles I share, strive to achieve and hope to impart. It is well written and succinct. The principles he describes are listed below but you should go ahead and read the entire article especially if you manage others:

  1. They believe the unbelievable.
  2. They see opportunity in instability and uncertainty.
  3. They wear their emotions on their sleeves.
  4. They protect others from the bus.
  5. They’ve been there, done that, and still do that.
  6. They lead by permission, not authority.
  7. They embrace a larger purpose.
  8. They take real risks, not fake risks.
The areas that most resonate with me and that have been discussed in this blog are #2, #4, #6 (go see  "Manage as if you have no authority" ) and #8.

A final thought - there's another popular saying about the difference between a leader and a manager which goes: "Managers get things done right. Leaders get the right things done." 

I say that a "memorable boss" does both!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Real Image

Image from: http://www.ft.com

The "Dove Real Beauty Sketches" video has now been seen more than 54 million times. I was lucky enough to see it before it passed the half million mark and have been thinking about it ever since. A former FBI forensic artist was hired to draw seven women twice - both times unseen. Once based on the woman's own description of herself and then again based on the description of someone else that had just met them. The difference in each of the two portraits is stark with the ones done based on the person's own description of themselves appearing colder and 'uglier'. If you haven't seen the video yet it's worth taking a look now. The video is below and it's only 3 minutes:

Self-image is a fascinating topic. A straightforward definition of it from wikipedia states:

A person's self-image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, gender, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others. A simple definition of a person's self-image is their answer to the question "What do you believe people think about you?".
While the video is targeted towards women and physical appearance someone makes the following statement that rings true: "[Self image] impacts the choices in the friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything." 

A huge part of mentoring is about working with what's going on inside a person. Understanding a mentee's  mental map and having it understood by them will go a long way to achieving their goals.  To get to that understanding I use certain questions such as:

  1. If I spoke to your manager what would they say is your best quality? Your biggest gap?
  2. If I interviewed your colleagues (or your direct reports) what would they say are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
  3. Tell me about a time in your career when you felt most proud. Tell me why.
  4. Tell me about a time in your career when you felt like a huge failure. Tell me why.
Working through these questions will allow the person to talk through their perceptions which will reveal a lot about their self-image.

The tough thing about self-image is that it's notoriously difficult to change. The great thing about self-image is that even a very small shift can make a tremendous difference.

As an example I worked with several mentees whose self-image generated feelings of low self-confidence. They were afraid to make presentations or ask for choice projects. We started by understanding the (sometimes completely unfounded) causes of this lack of confidence and addressed many of those issues/perceptions head on. In some cases I had to help someone get comfortable with the possibility of trying something new and failing. But in other cases where the mentee was already talented in a particular area but lacked confidence all I did was encourage them to take a class or simply asked them to start acting as if they deserved the best assignments and start believing they could make stunning presentations.  In all those cases over time we were able to surpass their own expectations of themselves. Their self-image had changed and along with that their reality had shifted positively.

Even for folks that are very aware of the impact that self-image has on someone's success and happiness in the world it's striking to see that impact in a video like the one above. I hope it resonates with you.