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Mon 11 May 2020
Engagement has become a popular metric for measuring satisfaction of employees, productivity, and, to an extent, the health of a company’s culture.
But is engagement a truly accurate metric for measuring satisfaction of employees, productivity, and company culture?
Engagement has clearly shown a correlation to greater productivity and workplace happiness, but how accurate is our method for measuring workplace engagement? Are their leading indicators that might serve as a better metric for how engagement will change?
This article outlines some of the issues with solely measuring engagement and identifies some additional metrics that may provide stronger evidence for when engagement is volatile or calm.
The three issues with only measuring engagement are as follows:
1.Engagement can change in an instant
When an engaged employee becomes disengaged, it is often instigated by one event rather than by some extended sequence of events over time. Most people enter a company excited to get to work and get started, thus are highly engaged. But as they spend more time with the company, they get to know more people and become more accustomed to the workplace. They formulate ideas and expectations about who their coworkers and bosses are and how they are expected to act, and these expectations are compared and contrasted with their own internal compass for how the workplace is expected to operate. 
But, when this new and engaged employee is confronted by someone strongly deviating from the expectations in a negative way, this negative event can muddle their expectations and disengage the employee. 
This is more than simple conjecture; I’ve heard this same story again and again. For example, a friend of mine works at a company where 1 employee (Director) became frustrated at another employee (Accountant) because the accountant consistently asked the director to redo his expense reports. The director’s frustrations stemmed from the fact that it took him 15 minutes to redo the expense reports. In all fairness, there were mistakes, but the director thought that they were immaterial and insignificant.
So, the director goes to other people in his department to share what a pain in the butt it is to redo the expense reports. He subtly inserts his frustrations into conversations to see if anyone else can relate. If somebody bites, they enter a conversation and begin venting their frustrations about the accountant.
The issue is that word travels fast. The accountant learns about these conversations and doesn’t feel comfortable approaching the director with his thoughts or feelings. He is then posed with the question, “does he do his job properly or not because he knows the director is going to complain?”
The accountant learns about his treatment and switches from engaged to disengaged in an afternoon.
2. Work status changes can temporarily impact engagement away from the average
Similarly to starting a new relationship, there is usually a brief ‘honeymoon’ period when taking up a new role or position. Whether it’s a promotion or a new job altogether, taking over new responsibilities feels awesome at first. We feel eager to learn new things, jump on tasks that need to get done, and are open-minded to the feedback we receive.
Within the first 3 months of starting this role, our engagement is artificially elevated because we are “drinking from the firehose”. There are so many amazing opportunities and interesting new responsibilities that it would be difficult to not be engaged.
If a company measures engagement every 6 months or once per year and their survey includes people within those first 3 months of starting a new role, the results are likely skewed positively. If leadership is relying on this information to make informed decisions about how to best manage their team, they are going to be relying on falsely inflated engagement scores which diminishes the need to positively develop the company. Why provide new activities for their employees when engagement is already high when instead, you could double-down on quotas and operational goals and try to squeeze some extra productivity from their “highly engaged” workforce? 
If the engagement numbers are skewed, this type of scenario could put engagement and workplace morale into a tailspin. These artificially engaged employees might become overworked. And when they leave the honeymoon stage and revert back to the mean, their dwindling engagement could reach a critical threshold because leadership pushed when they needed to support. 
3. Daily engagement measures lead to survey fatigue
Some companies may claim they eradicate the first two issues because they measure engagement daily.
However, this approach brings a new problem: survey fatigue. If employees are asked the same questions every single day, they are going to grow accustomed to consistently responding a certain way, regardless of the underlying truth. Instead of capturing their engagement, we are simply building a pointless ritual into every employee’s day: the daily survey that only truly measures how quickly they click the “moderately engaged” button.  
In this case, gathering more data does not mean necessarily gathering better data. The previous two issues, 1) engagement can change in an instant and 2) that work status changes can artificially inflate engagement are very much still a concern. In fact, daily measurements might be worse than 3 or 6 month measurements because the daily habitual answers could override honesty right up until that event that “flips” the engagement switch. 
However, there isn’t all bad news about measuring workplace engagement. As mentioned earlier in this article, there is a direct correlation to productivity and work satisfaction when engagement is high.
There are leading indicators that can help companies better understand whether or not engagement is susceptible to change.
The leading indicators our team has identified are 1) Communication Barriers between employees and 2) Dysfunctional Turnover.
We define communication barriers between employees as the lack of understanding for the obstacles another employee faces, and we define dysfunctional turnover as turnover from employees that do great work and are engaged but are susceptible to leaving because of something going on in the company (e.g. not due to personal events).
Our team has identified that 68% of engaged employees believe that there are communication barriers between themselves and other employees at work. This is critical to understand because it means that people are forming assumptions about others’ work, but only rarely get chances to find out if these assumptions are based in fact. When employees don’t understand the obstacles faced by their coworkers, they form assumptions about what other employees do. These assumptions can create a lack of empathy, and this lack of empathy creates a high susceptibility for them to become disgruntled and disengaged by someone else’s actions in coordination with their assumptions.
If you can understand how many of your employees experience communication barriers at work, you can begin to gauge how quickly engagement might change.
Dysfunctional turnover also involves communication, but as opposed to the focus being on what other people are doing outside of an employee’s control, it involves the communication an employee receives for their specific job function. When employees feel like they are not getting adequate feedback or communication from their boss, they are susceptible to becoming disengaged. Employees are also susceptible to becoming disengaged when they don’t perceive that their colleagues respect the work they do.
Measuring dysfunctional turnover is not the same as measuring the TIS (Turnover Intention Scale) as the TIS asks for feedback on pretty black and white statements like “I don’t envision myself working for this company much longer.” We measure dysfunctional turnover via factors like communication quality with colleagues and bosses during multi-person tasks and their perception of the respect they receive for the work they do.
In essence, engagement metrics do have a lot of value, but measuring engagement only shows where engagement is at now, not where it will be. Measuring leading indicators like communication barriers between employees and dysfunctional turnover can provide a lens into where engagement is going.
 

Wed 6 May 2020
An encouraging message from Brandon Gaydorus, giving an illustration on how mentors can guard you from making the same old mistakes and learn from others.
Mon 4 May 2020
Steph Curry has mentors that help him with his shot. Can you believe that? The best basketball shooter on the planet has mentors to help him shoot better!? You would think he should be mentoring other people, right? 


Steph has coaches too. And he plays on a team, meets with other players from around the NBA to discuss basketball and life. But he also has mentors.


If you are an executive reading this article, compare yourself, as a leader in your company, to Steph Curry leading his team.


You may have a coach. And you may have an executive team that advises you on company matters, and you may participate in an executive advisory group. But do you have mentors?


This is not meant to offend, but chances are that you aren’t as good of an executive as Steph Curry is a shooter. And even if you were, you should be taking every advantage you can if you want to be the best at your game. So if 2-time MVP, 3-time NBA champion, 6-time All-NBA team Steph Curry thinks he needs a mentor to achieve greatness, then you could probably use one too. 


So, what is a mentor?


A standard definition would say a mentor is simply an experienced and trusted advisor.


But there is clearly more to mentorship than that.


Does being experienced mean they must be older than you?


Does trusted mean that you have worked with them for many years?


Our research indicates that those assumptions about “experienced” and “trusted” are incorrect.


The best mentoring relationships are horizontal. Horizontal mentorships are mentoring relationships where two people are open to learning from each other and being constantly curious, giving their insight to the relationship, and approaching the personal/professional relationship as equals. In this mentorship paradigm, experience and trust are measured in more than just “years”. 


Great horizontal mentorship is built on a mutual perspective on the relationship between work and life. We call this work orientation. Some people view their work as a job (meaning their focus is on work/life balance), career (meaning their focus is on professional growth) or calling (meaning their focus is on personal/professional mission alignment). There is not a right or wrong work orientation and it is fluid, meaning it can change throughout your life.


Work orientation is an important factor in building great mentor relationships. When potential mentors are matched strictly on age, years of experience, status, or area of expertise, the likelihood that the relationship will last for 6 months and be considered productive and quality is 18%. These factors simply aren’t enough.


What if, instead of using superficial features, we matched people based on a deeper connection? When mentors are matched with aligning Work Orientations, the likelihood that the relationship will last for 6 months and be considered productive and quality jumps to 72%.


These relationships become even more successful when work orientation is combined with horizontal mentorship, particularly for company leaders and executives. Horizontal mentorship between executives is a powerful tool for improving yourself and your company. You can relate to similar decisions faced and strategies to consider – even if you are in completely different industries. You can emotionally relate to the stressors of the work and can take a smarter approach when challenging you to grow professionally. Their outside, yet equal perspective provides something that an individual executive’s team or coaches won’t (because that executive controls their pay and job status).


Why should executives have mentors?


1. Have somebody else to help balance the mental load of what an executive is normally carrying.


As an executive, you are faced with a lot of decisions and plans. Even if you are the most organized and well-planned person, your team is spending their full-time working with you in the office, and your only guidance is from your team. It’s difficult for someone to bring a new perspective to you when they are seeing the same things you see – even if they feel comfortable challenging you. Also, you have probably split your team into departments and you or a combination of you and your executives orchestrate the entire operation. Not everyone can relate and help you prioritize what is most important. Someone with a shared work orientation and has similar responsibilities in a different company/industry can help you ease the mental load of what you are facing.


2. Look at challenges from a different lens from somebody completely outside of your industry.


Success leaves clues. But it’s up to you to find them. What was successful in one industry might work in another. If you are an executive and your network is insulated and rarely expanding, you will only surround yourself with the same thinking. Finding new mentors and continuing to build relationships with current mentors will help you expand your problem-solving abilities.


3. Be able to emotionally attach and disengage.


A mentor is not a spouse. A mentor is close enough to you that they can understand and empathize but distant enough from you that you can make mistakes with what you say or how you phrase something without it backlashing. You can technically fire your spouse, but that’s a relationship that you probably don’t want to fire if you don’t have to. It is okay for you to have a mentor relationship with somebody for 6 months and then if you decide you don’t like their advice anymore begin to grow distant. You can always pick that relationship back up again if you would like. 


What are common objections from executives for why not to have mentors?


1. I don’t have the time for mentors.


Are you working in the business or on the business? Executive mentors can help you work on the business. As a leader, you need to be thinking ahead and willing to do the work now so that your job will be easier later. If your job is to cut down trees, going at it day after day with a dull axe isn’t working hard, it’s working poorly. Mentorship helps you sharpen your metaphorical axe; neglecting your toolkit means you are neglecting your work, even if you think you can’t make the time.


2. I already have mentors.


How did you find your mentors? From the circles you actively connect with and run in? If you all hear the same things, are given similar advice, and trying the same strategies, are your mentors giving you anything new? Or are they just confirming what you already know? Finding executive mentors outside of your circle will make you see your blind spots. 


3. I don’t need mentors.


This sort of response typically comes from a place of ego. Anyone who says this is conveying that they have learned everything and there is no room for them to grow. Which, paradoxically, is proof that they in fact still have plenty more to learn. The knowledge and experience gained from an executive mentor is simply irreplaceable. As I stated at the opening of this blog: chances are, you are no Steph Curry (in your field). The best of the best are that way for a reason. Success leaves clues and this one isn’t buried that deep.      


Every executive will benefit by cultivating a group of strong, diverse mentor relationships, especially ones outside of their industry and normal sphere of influence. The diversity of thought that comes from these types of relationships lead executives to make massive breakthroughs in their businesses, and within themselves mentally and emotionally. What’s your excuse?
Wed 29 April 2020
Mentors Help Mentees!
The Scottish author and government reformer, Samuel Smiles, said in 1855, that Alexander the Great valued learning so highly, that he said that he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge than to his father Philip for life.

Mentors Are Versatile
Mentors are trusted advisers who train and counsel new employees, or students, in a company, college, or school (Capellini, 2018). Alternatively, they are called a mentor, coach, guide, counselor, teacher, instructor, sponsor, or wise adviser. The descriptions signify many different connotations so that it might be necessary to consult a dictionary for specific clarity. Mentors embrace all aspects of a mentee's life. Whether in college on an educational journey, in search of a career, or merely negotiating life's path, individuals need mentors to provide guidance and leadership. As a substitute, coaches, counselors, or immediate supervisors provide wisdom as needed. Also, college students seeking graduate degrees have advice-givers like a Supervisory Committee, headed by a Chairperson. In all, trained advisers offer support when and where required to help mentees attain professional goals. 

Mentors Are Dynamic
Mentors are specific and straightforward toward mentees. They carefully explore and help develop a mentee's professional leadership qualities, inspire them to assume progressively higher responsibilities for themselves and others they might be associated with, and encourage career pursuits. The mentors' vision and efforts generate mentee improvement and growth. They learn to act on a personal and professional level with their peers, set enhancing performance goals, boost the ability to be candid and honest with themselves and others, and learn how their feelings impact their actions. Mentors also seek positive feedback, a talent essential to strengthening desired behaviors, by controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods, displaying poise and composure, and creating an environment of trust and fairness. 
Mentors use guidance feedback, to help eliminate undesired behavior–aptitudes and reinforce mentor–positive impulses. They listen for whole meanings of statements, look for generalizations or threads of meaning derived from facts, and carefully listen to events to distinguish truth from opinion. Mentors show empathy for the mentee's perspective, emotions, wisdom, concerns, put themselves in the mentees' shoes applying similar experience, never confuse tolerance with sympathy, or feel sorry without understanding the full context. Mentors recognize when a mentee changes the tone of voice, rate, or volume of speech, that it may indicate a lack of assurance about something, or they wish not to be forthright about certain information. Mentors observe issue indicators, the mentees' nonverbal clues, eye contact avoidance, slumping or clenching fists.

Mentee Accountability
Mentees should cultivate resourcefulness, accountability, and the responsibility to be active and productive learners. They should show a desire to learn, objectively access and develop needs, establish clear growth-related goals, openly speak about them, and be responsible for their progress and personal growth. Mentees should take the initiative to schedule advising meetings with their mentor, be receptive to coaching and feedback, maintain a positive and constructive attitude, take advantage of training and growth activities, the assistance offered, and retain confidentiality. Mentees should seek a mentor with similar experience, personality, and availability, and prepare questions to ask their mentor.

Five Mentor Goal Values a SMART Acronym 
  • Specific: Goals should be accurate, straightforward, and begin with action words like coordinate, direct, develop, plan, etc.
  • Measured: Goals should show sizeable criteria for determining progress toward attaining set purposes and measuring results that answer the question, how will I know when the mission is complete?
  • Achievable: Goals should be attainable and challenging but possible and programmed to reach commitment in a reasonable time to prevent disinterest. 
  • Realistic: Goals should be essential and true-to-life but represent an objective toward which both mentor and mentee are willing and able to meet.
  • Timed: Goals should be scheduled, set within a specific timeframe with an endpoint that allows practical work towards a distinct, attainable target. 


Dr. Colonel J. Solis, USMC, Retired
BSBA, BSBA, MBA, Mphil, DBA, Ph.D.(c)
SVA, Executive Director, U. S. Marine Corps

References
Capellini, J. (2018). Final Report, 2018 Marine Corps Community Services Education Center Program Assessment.

Samuel Smiles, December 1812 to April 1904
Mon 27 April 2020
When a company implements a new employee-to-employee horizontal mentorship program, this can feel like a big first step towards progress! However, impactful mentorship is not Field of Dreams; just because you built it, it doesn’t mean that employees will see ‘magical’ changes overnight. It takes more than a basic mentorship program to develop engaged employees and achieve the desired goals you have for the mentor program and the company as a whole. 


This article offers my perspective on the importance of semi-structured meeting agendas as a driving force for effective, impactful mentorship, regardless of the personalities of the people participating.


Our conventional wisdom tells us that “if two people are extroverted, they are naturally going to hit it off. Structured meetings will just get in the way of natural conversation!”


This conventional wisdom is wrong.


Extroverts get their energy from being around other people. We expect two extroverted people to have an easy path to conversation, but this doesn’t account for a key issue: how productive is what they are discussing? Is their discussion casual, like sports, weather, or family? Or, is their discussion about the obstacles they are facing at work and having a dialogue about how to make their work more productive and personally fulfilling?


People may be able to gain value from any conversation, true. But, more likely than not, these casual conversations are superficial and not particularly substantive. The reason for this is because people feel comfortable discussing things that they either see on a daily basis or that they don’t have control over but are generally interested in. We are used to these conversation topics. When anyone ever asks, “how are you doing?” it is typically followed by these superficial talking points. 


Casual conversations are low risk, low reward. Few people have revelations when discussing whether the Lakers will make the playoffs. These conversations are comforting and valuable, but they are simply no substitute for challenging discussions and self-reflection. 


On the flip side, deep conversations are rarer for a reason. Talking about work obstacles and challenging your fears about what’s possible in your professional career is uncomfortable! We are forced to be vulnerable. These conversations do drive profound outcomes, but without an agenda keeping people on track, we can unintentionally deviate back to those comfortable, superficial topics.  


Falling back to comfortable conversation isn’t just a risk for extroverted people; introverts can face their own challenges during a mentorship program. One might assume “if two people are introverted, they can figure out a mentor meeting without an agenda. They are professionals and their introversion will make them more comfortable.”


Again, this conventional wisdom falls flat. Ask introverts if they would feel comfortable with this and most will say no. This is typically the assumption extroverted people have about introverted people.


The issue is that the people that are most interested in starting company-wide mentor programs are typically extroverts. Introverts just typically don’t share that same type of self-sustaining drive for more social interaction; they recharge their ‘mental energy’ in different ways. 


But, this doesn’t mean that introverts are disinterested in mentorship!


Instead, when an introvert participates in a mentor program, they might be more likely to have some anxiety or skepticism about meeting somebody they (typically) have minimal interaction with. They need to feel confident and come to the meeting with a plan: How long is the meeting? What are the topics for discussion? How can they be sure that this meeting will be impactful to them? 


Meeting agendas accomplish this goal. Meeting agendas give introverted people the safety net of a plan of action. They know that the discussion will be meaningful, that the conversation won’t be open-ended without a set end time, and that the other person (their mentor) shares this plan.


Implementing a mentor program is a huge first step towards building a stronger, more positive company culture and breaking through communication barriers.


But just having a mentor program doesn’t mean that the company is accomplishing their goals. Improvement takes active effort; the communication barriers and dysfunctional turnover are not going to magically disappear overnight. Employee engagement and positive company culture doesn’t appear by flipping a switch.


Unfortunately, many companies start (and end) these efforts with the idea of “let’s start a mentor program!” and simply call it a day. They might ‘match’ employees, but randomly. They might give suggested topics, but not meeting agendas. Instead of creating an impactful mentorship program for their company, they simply checked another box for their year-end review and assumed the benefits had already materialized. 


Providing mentor meeting agendas is one very important piece of building a strong, thriving employee horizontal mentorship program that connects with every employee, regardless of personality. 



Wed 22 April 2020
A CEO is presented with a problem. The CEO, already too busy with a full schedule, re-assigns this problem to a subordinate under them. That person then passes along to their subordinate. That person, usually supervisor or manager, then re-assigns it to the final individual who is expected to tackle the problem…and unfortunately, that employee doesn’t get the full picture, because they have been kept out of the ALL the prior conversations, from the CEO to their manager. Those conversations are the “meat and potatoes” of the project: the CEO’s expectations…the realizations of what might work and what won’t…Or even how the problem incurred in the 1st place.  They were just instructed to take care of the issue and now have the weight of figuring out the “how” on their own.
 
Effective Leadership is Hampered by Ignorance. TV’s “Undercover Boss” demonstrates this problem very well. Executives go undercover in their own organizations and see first hand how their decisions (which many believed would be beneficial to their organizations) have impacted the workers at the bottom. To put the saying kindly: The garbage always rolls downhill. You can’t accurately assess the performance of a task from the top if you don’t know the process at the bottom. There are people who KNOW things, and there are people that KNOW HOW to do things. Top-Level Executives need to be able to function as both. It is, after all, why they were given the top-level positions they have. But how can they do both? It’s impossible for a top-level leader to KNOW HOW all lower-level employees do their job…and the problem is only magnified in larger companies. So, how can you effectively manage your team if you don’t know the work? 
 
We should forget the days of a Manager / Supervisor / Dire you should have an inside track to your lower-level employees and understand how your decisions impact them. Don’t be afraid to ask the right questions! Run your own progress reports, understanding information is often sanitized by the time it reaches your desk. Ask questions you would not be expected to ask. Expect to hear the good and the bad, and welcome that information. Your company's health is your responsibility. When you purposely ignore these responsibilities, the result can be worse than the individual who created the problem at the lower level. This is how a disaster explodes to take out an entire company. Little communication from the top causes fear amongst the lower level. Fear grows and eats at company morale. Silence from the top affects everyone because we’re all connected.  
 
Inspect what you expect
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.
Mon 6 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.
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.”

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