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Wed 15 April 2020
People are an organization's greatest asset. Organizations strive to obtain top-performers and maintain quality performance. Organization mentorship is a critical aspect of recruiting top-performances and maintaining quality performance. A mentor can help an employee ascend great heights in their career and can be a conduit in networking channels. Networking is imperative for access to business opportunities. The best way to ensure you are in the best position in your career and gain opportunities for the future is to have a mentor.

I have several mentors, professionally and personally. Throughout the years, they have assisted me in navigating organizational obstacles, served as advisors for hard decisions, served as a sounding board for venting, and given me access to opportunities. A good mentor empowers mentees to make the best out of their situation, whether it is deciding to apply to another job or finding the best way to approach a workplace situation. The mentorship I have received over the years has been invaluable to me and I don't think I would be where I am today without my mentors' investment in my professional life.

Finding Your Place
Finding your place in a new organization or even an old workplace can be difficult. A mentor can assist you in navigating your way through organizational culture, office politics, and self-evaluation. Organizational culture plays a huge role in the way employees are viewed and valued. Mentors can help employees realize characteristics that are needed to adapt to the organizational culture. Mentors can also assist with self-reflection. Self-reflection can help employees self-regulate and understand other's behavior as well. Employee understanding of behavior can assist in finding their place within the organization. 

I have been in the Army for 17 years and I think I have been pretty successful in finding my place. The Army has a very distinct culture. I relied on my mentors to provide me feedback on how to fit in and adapt to the environment. If I didn't have mentors to lead me along the way, I probably would not have gotten far in my career.

Excelling to Great Heights
Most people want to be successful in the workplace. Excelling to great heights in your career is not only satisfying but helps the organization overall performance. Mentors can be the stairway to achieving great heights. Good mentors have value in their experience and past decisions. Mentees can glean from the guidance mentors provide and use that information to excel professionally and personally. 

I have achieved some great feats. I transitioned from being an enlisted soldier to a commissioned officer (warrant officer). I have completed a myriad of military training and I am currently pursuing my doctorate in business administration. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the input and guidance of my mentors. The valuable insight and experience are what have allowed me to make sound decisions and work through obstacles. 

Network Circles 
Networking is one of the most important things that a professional can do. People rely on relationships to excel in professional and personal aspects. Networking provides employees opportunities to excel in ways that they wouldn't otherwise have a chance to. Mentors can be conduits in different networking circles to facilitate those opportunities. The more networking circles an individual has the better for the chances for the opportunities. 

My mentors have introduced me to a variety of networking circles. These networking circles are not just important now, but for future use as well. As I progress and transition to another career, they serve as stepping stones. Nourishing the network circles is as important as having access to them. If you are fortunate to have access to network circles, make sure you foster the relationships.

Workplace Blueprint Template
Lastly, mentorship provides mentees with workplace blueprint. The workplace blueprint is the type of information that will allow you to understand how your organization works and possibly other organizations. If you change workplaces, the feedback you have received should translate to your new organization. This information can allow you to excel anywhere. Possessing the workplace blueprint will also make you a great mentor for someone else that make need guidance and mentorship. 

I pay it forward by making myself accessible to others for mentorship. I have people that have selected me to be their mentor and people that I have reached out to ask to become their mentor. I have decided to make sure that I pass along the knowledge and feedback that I have received over the years. Hopefully, by now, I have convinced you to seek out a professional mentor and how important it is to have a professional mentor. I have highlighted the importance that mentorship serves in the workplace and in personal growth. Capitalizing on opportunities for mentorship can pay dividends in your future. It did in mine. 
Wed 8 April 2020
Seeking a mentor in your job, whether it is your first job out of college or the last stop on your career path, choosing the right person can be critical to enjoying a successful time with that company, but also achieving your personal and professional goals. A mentor can be someone who you work directly for, someone you work alongside or even someone who has little bearing on your path but is someone you view with a level of respect for their thoughts and views. A mentor does not have to write your reviews and control your future with the company but should be someone who helps you take control of your own future.

When searching for a mentor, many people look for someone who can and will be able to directly lead them to a higher salary, a desired job title, or the opportunity to lead a project or team. But these are not the things that truly drive a mentor-mentee relationship. Look for someone who will challenge your ideas, always ask to you produce effective solutions to problems and will not let you do anything less than your best. The right mentor will also help you recognize areas you can improve in way that allows you to learn from mistakes or less than ideal turnouts without making you feel as if you failed. A true mentor bases the success of the relationship on you hitting your end goals, goals you have chose for yourself, not ones they have set for you. Don’t grab onto the first person in your new job when you start and ask them to be your mentor; instead, probe around the people near you to find someone that is going to be your biggest advocate for your success.

Last, do not be afraid to move on from a mentor as you transition through your career because each will have their own expiration date as you grow. They do not have to leave your life entirely but may just fold to the background. Eventually you will become the mentor for someone else further down your career path and remember these lessons as crucial to success because they will be the same drivers that guide that relationship, just in reverse.

Mentorship can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a career path, both as a mentor and a mentee, and choosing correctly is a hard, but worthwhile decision to make.
Tue 7 April 2020
As remote work grows in popularity, the need for keeping individuals in-tune and engaged in the company culture increases substantially.

Remote work removes many of the inconveniences associated with going into work like commutes and distractions, but it takes away a key component to what makes company culture…connection!

This article serves to show a key way companies can go about maintaining and even improving the level of connectivity between employees as their work location becomes remote.

Before jumping into suggestions on maintaining and growing connectivity of employees as their work location becomes remote, let’s observe how employees connect in an office environment.

In our research on facilitating horizontal mentoring relationships for employees, we have learned that 68% of engaged employees that don’t work remotely believe that there are communication barriers between them and other employees. This is a critical statistic because this shows that even engaged employees feel that they are silo’d off from other employees, even if they work in the same office. 

Reframing this point, most people don’t know what their counterparts in other departments do for their work and the conversations they do have are typically superficial (e.g. sports, weather, fashion, family).

As more people begin to work remotely, this is going to get worse because employees are going to lose the little interaction they do have with each other. All communication is going to be work related and the emotional identity employees have of being a member of the company will soon fade.

Just to be clear, the emotional identity employees have of being a member of the company is the company’s culture! Once that is gone, there is no more culture!

One key to keeping remote employees engaged in the culture of the company is to set aside time for employees to have intentional conversations with each other.

These conversations are not superficial while also not completely about work. These conversations are free from the workplace hierarchy (e.g. title has nothing to do with what is and isn’t shared in these conversations). These conversations provide a platform for employees to share what they are working on with another employee, learn obstacles the other person is facing, ask clarifying questions that they don’t normally ask or get asked, and identify ways to find breakthroughs at work – emotionally, operationally, mentally, or physically.

These relationships create empathy between employees. These relationships breakthrough communication barriers between employees. These relationships build a greater sense of identity employees have with the company. 

This is called horizontal mentorship.

Optimal horizontal mentorship means:

·        Pairing employees together based on shared Work Orientation – or their shared workplace value system.
·        Providing meeting agendas to drive the conversations towards building rapport and being vulnerable.
·        Collecting feedback and learning what tangible outcomes were created every few months from meeting.
·        Switching mentor pairings every 6-12 months to continually build a web of connection between employees.
·        Everyone participating is willing to be open-minded enough to learn from somebody else regardless of their age or experience, willing to ask questions, and willing to share past mistakes.

When horizontal mentorship is implemented optimally, all employees, especially remote employees, feel a greater level of connectivity and identity with their company.
Fri 3 April 2020
Horizontal mentorship is a mentoring relationship between employees across or within departments free from the influence of the workplace hierarchy.

Horizontal mentorship is the premier way to implement an employee mentor program.

This article serves to show the benefits of horizontal mentorship and the issues with traditional vertical mentorship.

In theory, the idea of vertical mentorship makes sense. A more experienced/knowledgeable person providing wisdom to a less experienced/knowledgeable person.

But, what vertical mentorship alone doesn’t account for is the personal drivers of each person in the relationship and its impact on the longevity and quality of that relationship over time.

Vertical mentorship opens the door for ego and ego is the biggest deterrent to successful mentoring relationships.

To show this point, let’s discuss the story of Shawn. Shawn is the CFO of a major company. He loves the idea of mentorship and believes that he has a lot of wisdom to share with somebody else. But, because Shawn is an executive, he doesn’t necessarily see the relationship being mutual. He’s fine with only providing his wisdom without any expectation of anything in return.

On the surface, this seems altruistic of Shawn…but in reality, Shawn is a nightmare for the other person he is in a mentoring relationship with.

The issue is that Shawn sees himself as an altruistic provider of information. What Shawn doesn’t realize is that his lack of willingness to listen and learn from the other person he is in a mentoring relationship with cripples the relationship. The person Shawn is in a relationship with cannot feel fully connected to Shawn because all Shawn does is spout advice. Shawn doesn’t come prepared with questions to meetings because Shawn perceives himself as a “reactive mentor” meaning that he can excuse himself from preparing for mentor meetings because his reactions to the other person’s questions should be enough to make the relationship valuable.

The result, the relationship fades away because the other person is frustrated with Shawn not being open to learning something from him while Shawn has no idea why the relationship ended and perceives the other person as being ungrateful for not taking full advantage of his wisdom.

The point is that vertical mentorship exaggerates workplace hierarchies and dehumanizes the mentoring relationship.

As opposed to the mentoring relationship being mutual where two people can give to and take from the relationship, it creates an awkward relationship where one person feels belittled and the other person feels disrespected. Vertical mentorship feels more like a transaction and less like a mutually beneficial relationship.

Horizontal mentorship leverages the inherent drives and values people have at work (Work Orientation) and matches them based on those drives.  

No matter the matches’ age, years of experience, or area of expertise, when people are matched together in horizontal mentorship, they are on a level playing field.

This means that both participants come prepared to each mentor meeting with questions for each other and stories to share. 

This means that both participants are willing to be open-minded enough to learn from somebody else regardless of their age or experience, willing to ask questions, and willing to share past mistakes.

Horizontal mentorship removes the transactional nature of vertical mentorship.

Horizontal mentorship breaks through communication barriers and creates empathy between employees at work. 

For building an employee mentor program, horizontal mentorship is the way to go. 

Even if the goal is for a junior employee to learn a skill from a senior employee, if the perception is vertical mentorship, the senior employee is going to perceive the relationship as a hassle while the junior employee is going to feel belittled. If the perception is that this type of mentor relationship is horizontal, it empowers the junior employee and gives the senior employee motivation to engage in the relationship because he now stands to gain something from the relationship.

Wed 1 April 2020
Have you ever been in that unique situation? You know the one to which I am referring! You have made a secret decision to go back and further your education, even with your crazy schedule, never thinking you would get accepted! That day comes and you open your email to the words… “Congratulations on your Acceptance into Graduate School!” It is at that moment you wish to have a mentor. Someone who can encourage you, take you under their wing and help you learn new skills.

Mentors can help mentees in several different ways. First off, they can reach out and connect with them because they were on that same path only earlier (furthering their education). They may be in their classes at school and encourage them in a subject in which they are struggling. Secondly, they can reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn; helping them build and/or strengthen their resume and helping them build their network by introducing them to other professionals in the network or tagging them in various posts/events to bring the spotlight on the mentee. 

A major advantage to having a mentor is by helping the mentee in preparing for job interviews by giving mock interviews, helping them nail that interview, improving their interviewing skills, gaining confidence, and giving tips which might mean the difference between a job offer or not.  Mentors can also give emotional as well as professional support.  Many times, even with the best education, grades, and training, professional job offers are difficult to obtain.   For an individual to excel in graduate school and still not be able to acquire that coveted position can be devastating.  Too many “we have decided to move in a different direction…” type letters can cause the newly graduate student or current “almost graduated graduate student,” to rethink their career path and all those student loans.  Mentors have been there, done that, and many times have answers for those questions that are extremely difficult to answer.  

Lastly, a mentor can be a friend.  Someone to answer the tough questions, “am I in the right field,” “am I not dressing appropriately,” “am I too eager,”  all good questions, real feelings, and many times, only a friend can help give that necessary answer.  Mentorship is an important part of today’s professional and academic community – it takes time, commitment and a giving of oneself, but in the end, it is well worth the investment.

Always remember “What it is like on the other side of the desk.”
Wed 25 March 2020
Let’s first define what is a mentor. “Mentors focus on providing you sage advice and wisdom gathered through experience and knowledge when you ask for their insight.  Mentors can be considered a library of human knowledge in the particular areas of life they have gained expertise.  Mentors normally focus on providing knowledge, understanding and direction, but have been known to help in your improvement as a person when you allow yourself to become the subject.”

Everyone should have a mentor whether it is professional or personal reasons.  A mentor is someone you can trust and build rapport with because this person will be there for you through the good and bad times.  Encouraging and inspiring along the way, is why a mentor is often confused with a coach.  A coach is different from a mentor in a sense that coaches are not supposed to offer advice as to what a person should be doing.  Coaching concentrates on the person implementing the best strategies to achieve their desired goals.  

The majority of mentor’s volunteer their time and are unpaid when asked to render guidance.  Some benefits to having a mentor is listed below:

  1. Support and encouragement 
  2. Inspiration and guidance
  3. Improve social skills
  4. Career and professional advice
  5. Spiritual advice

My mentor is someone who I met a few years ago after signing up for the mentor/mentee program at our church.  My mentor is someone who has helped me to grow in my business and to expand my career. By having a mentor who is also a business owner like myself, she provides reliable advice to me when making challenging decisions.  I value her opinion and look forward to our daily conversations.  My mentor is someone that I can trust and share my concerns about anything, and I know the advice given to me will be in my best interest. My mentor has encouraged me to do things that I normally would not have had the courage to do if it wasn’t for her believing in me. The experiences and knowledge that she shares with me helps to shape me into a better business leader, mother, and wife. I have learned so much from her over the past 2 years. 

If interested in having a mentor, make sure you are honest with yourself as well as your mentor. The relationship only works if honesty and transparency is at the core.  It is difficult for someone to provide guidance and advice to anyone if the relationship is built on dishonesty.  Also, make a list of what you are looking for in a mentor so when an opportunity to work with a mentor arises, you will know what qualities to seek.  The benefits are unlimited when working with a mentor who understands you both professionally and personally.  Having a mentor to confide in and receiving valuable advice from them is priceless. The opportunity to have a mentor in my life was one of the best decisions I could have made. 
Wed 18 March 2020
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt


The best way to gain insight into what one’s future career aspirations hope to be is to have a true conversation with someone already established within that field of interest.  Mentees receive a huge benefit from partnering alongside a well-seasoned professional to pick their brains.  Asking a ton of questions around the “why’s” or “how’s” can really open a person’s eyes to where they want to go in life.  

Unfortunately, sometimes this task can be challenging because of the lack of direction there is readily available to young people or individuals looking to shift careers.  Although we would like to see everyone as having sound advice, this is not always the case.  Asking questions of dearly loved or trusted people in our life may seem like the correct step in making good choices around career moves; however, sometimes their advice may not be sufficient.  Though not intentional, friends and family may believe they are offering their real-world experience correctly, but they lack clear direction in the delivery of said experience.

This is why mentees seeking out career-driven individuals can greatly benefit from their streamline, world experience.  Here they are matched up with someone who can give clear direction on what they feel the right steps for that individual should be.  Oftentimes, for people who are well established, they reflect on their past and review areas in their professional journey where they wish they had shifted gears.  Although they do not cry over their spilt milk, experienced professionals sometimes long for that moment when they could have benefited greatly from someone telling them which direction they should have turned or which path they might have chosen against.  Though they are well-established, the experienced individual may look back and say “I have made it, but if only this or that would have happened sooner…” 

Once presented with someone new and fresh to the game, they may feel that this is their chance to shed light on the potential career path ahead.  People like to know their opinions are valued, and to be given the chance to submit their ideas to someone who truly cares about their experience, will enhance what is being communicated.  This will amplify the relationship between the mentor and the mentee and will ensure levels of success from both ends. 
Wed 4 March 2020
It is a collaboration between mentor and mentee who works together to identify goals that are specific to the individual’s role and aligned to corporate objectives.  The mentor should be supportive and listen to the ideas of the mentee.  This is critical as it guarantees that mentee will know “what is expected of me”, which is another key drive of engagement and performance.  It also frames the conversation in a meaningful way.  Are the goals on track or not?  Why? What can the individual do to improve?  What can others do to support?  If the performance or behavior under question does not change, the mentor needs to remind the mentee of the goal and hole him/her accountable.  Mentor set priorities and had ability to work toward stated as success could be defined as a progressive realization of a predetermined goal.  Mentor amplified limited power by empowering mentee to take on shared challenges, seeking to surround with the most talented people representing a wide range of skills that could be helpful in achieving the goals.  Mentor in collaboration with mentee helps to set goals, to move forward these goals, and to advice on what course of action mentee should take.  Furthermore, mentor coaches mentee to build the processes necessary to collaborate on a strategy on how to best implement the project.

Mentoring is a long-term commitment with a broader range; include guidance toward professional education and career choices.

Fri 28 February 2020
Initial publishing on HR Boost.

I am interviewing Garrett Mintz, the founder of Ambition In Motion, to discuss mentor programs for small and medium-sized businesses. Garrett and his team have done extensive research into mentorship and what works and doesn’t work for implementing mentor programs. Garrett’s big focus is on leveraging the research of Work Orientation and its impact on successful mentor relationships which he shares about in this interview.

What is a common assumption that small to medium sized business owners have about their team?

That everybody already knows everybody or that they don’t have time for mentorship.

So often, I will hear from small to medium sized business owners that they don’t see a need for an employee mentor program because everybody has already worked at the company for 5+ years and that everyone knows everyone pretty well. Or that the issues between employees can’t be resolved so they are fine with leaving them unresolved and continuing on with business as normal. Or that they don’t have time for mentorship.

What most business owners are blind to is the fact that most conversations at work are superficial: “How are your kids?” “What did you do over the weekend?” “Did you complete that project?”

You have enough of these conversations over and over and over and you feel like you “know” somebody…but you really don’t.

Do you have a story you can share to elaborate on this point?

Of course!

One of our clients does tax accounting in Indianapolis. They are a 14 person firm and we started the mentor program in January.

It would be an understatement to say that the participants in our mentor program were busy and skeptical about this program. We are entering the heat of tax season and they are embarking on a mentor program…in a 14 person company where everyone knows everyone.

Needless to say, they were skeptical.

Brad and John are employees of this firm and they were matched together. Brad is a manager at the company and has been there for over 15 years. John started within the past year but has been friends with Brad for the past 3 years. In fact, Brad helped him land this job. Since they both had been friends for the past 3 years, they thought they already knew everything about each other.

They scheduled a 60 minute meeting for their first mentor meeting but were concerned that they wouldn’t have enough to talk about because they already knew each other so well.

The result…the meeting lasted for 90 minutes…they only got through 1 question on the meeting agenda we provided them…they had to schedule a second meeting in the same month complete the meeting agenda.

They learned so much about each other that they didn’t already know. They opened up about their background, their work history, their work goals, and how their personalities meshed well with each other. 

Brad and John have never had conversations like this at work before. They are now getting their work done more efficiently because they have a better understanding of what each person does and what they need as opposed to working in their own silos. Because of this increased efficiency, they are now starting on projects that were pushed out way down the line in the company’s strategic road map.

This was all accomplished within the first month of implementing the mentor program!

These types of stories happen all of the time.

What is your secret sauce? 

The key thing that we are doing that is different from most mentor programs is we are using the research behind Work Orientation to facilitate our mentor program.

Traditional methods for matching people together for mentorship don’t work.

My team and I have learned that when you match based on status within the company, years of experience, or learning a specific skill, that the mentor relationship becomes a transaction where the mentor gets nothing and only the mentee has something to gain. The issue with matching people together based on transactional metrics is that it lacks staying power and depth. Once a mentee achieves what he/she is after – or loses patience with achieving the goal, the relationship ends because the mentee has no need for the mentor anymore (e.g. after a promotion or learning a certain skill). 

This is a problem because the staying power of mentorship is what increases its impact to a business’s bottom line significantly over time.

If you can create webs of mentor relationships across your company, significantly more collaboration can occur, your team can innovate more easily, and your culture can thrive. People will show up more engaged for work every day and the ability to attract new talent to the company will happen more naturally because your employees will become ambassadors for your company, encouraging their friends and strangers to take advantage of joining the team if they get the opportunity.

My team and I have tested multiple personality tests and areas of research. We have garnered varying degrees of success with different personality assessments, but by far the most effective research area is Work Orientation. Work Orientation is how you view your work. Some people view their work as a career, while others view their work as a calling, while others view their work as a job. Work Orientation is fluid and there isn’t a right or wrong Work Orientation. When Work Orientation is aligned for a mentoring relationship, the likelihood that relationship lasts for 6 months and is considered both productive and quality is 400% greater than traditional mentor matching methods. Regardless of the department a person is in, years of experience, or status in the company, if Work Orientation is aligned for a mentor relationship, they are 400% more likely to last for 6 months and be considered productive and quality than matching on transactional metrics like the ones previously stated.

How much time does participating in a mentor program like yours normally take?

The time investment from employees in our mentor program is between 1 and 4 hours per month. If we are assuming 166 hours worked per month that is less than 2.4% of their time.

How does this translate to the bottom line?

There has been extensive research on the correlation between mentorship and work engagement and between work engagement and productivity. Essentially, if you can measure engagement changes in employee mentor program participants over time, you can measure how much more productive they are at work. This manifests itself in more sales, better customer service, greater collaboration between teams, and overall happier employees. If you can increase the likelihood of successful mentorship by 400% and continue implementing successful mentorship over time (e.g. building webs of connection), you can create a significantly positive impact on the bottom line.
Fri 28 February 2020
One common piece of advice I hear is that “you should work towards finding a calling”. The advice makes sense. I mean of you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is at the top and it is easy to assume that finding a calling is consistent with achieving self-actualization.

But what if it’s not? What if we have it wrong?

I work in the space of implementing employee mentor programs for companies and I have studied extensively the correlation between aligned Work Orientation and the likelihood of successful mentor relationships. I have also studied correlations between different Work Orientations and levels of engagement at work.

Work Orientation is how one view’s their work. Some people view their work as a job (motivated by work/life balance), some people view their work as a career (motivated by professional growth), and some people view their work as a calling (motivated by personal/professional mission alignment).

My team and I learned that Work Orientation is fluid, meaning that it can change throughout one’s life. We also learned that when people don’t share a similar Work Orientation and are matched together for a mentoring relationship, that the likelihood that relationship lasts for 6 months and is considered both productive and quality diminishes significantly. 

But is there a correlation between one type of Work Orientation and being more engaged at work?

Our current research indicates no.

Our current research does break workplace engagement into 4 separate categories: emotional attachment to the work, energy received from doing the work, social connection with those whom doing the work with, and level of fulfillment from the work itself.

Our current research indicates that there is no one Work Orientation that is more engaged at work than another, but that some Work Orientations are more engaged in certain types of engagement than others.

People that are job oriented gain more workplace engagement from social connection with those whom they are doing the work than people that are career or calling oriented.

People that are career oriented gain more workplace engagement from the energy received doing the work than people that are job or calling oriented.

People that are calling oriented gain more workplace engagement from the level of fulfillment from the work itself than people that are career or job oriented.

The point is that maybe not everybody needs a calling. Everybody runs in their own lane and lives their own life and can achieve happiness and self-actualization in their own way. Assuming that everyone needs a calling may put people in uncomfortable situations and make them feel a way that they aren’t. And just because somebody doesn’t view their work as a calling right now doesn’t mean that they never will.

To adequately share the data and the other side of this point, our research also indicates that people that are career and calling oriented are more receptive to participating in employee mentor programs. Since employee mentorship - done successfully - leads to increased workplace engagement, greater collaboration across teams, and improved productivity, you could also make a counterargument.