Why does your company need a mentoring program?

One of the main problems that organizations have in our country (and, in fact, in the whole continent) has to do with the very way in which the idea of business has been assumed. For a long time, since the times of wealth and growth, in the middle of the last century, the business world has focused on the mere idea of production, enrichment, and expansion. Precisely, that is where the problem lies since, although it is necessary to make money and not stop growing, it is also necessary to think of the world we are building. Creating a business culture is as important as economic development. One of the ways to foster that business culture is through mentoring.

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Mentoring is closely linked to our Western literary history. In Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ we find the term ‘mentoring’ for the first time. Mentor was an old man who lived in Ithaca, and who was responsible for helping Ulysses in his absence during the War of Troy. His work also consisted of training Telemachus, the first son of the hero. According to Greek mythology, the goddess Athena used the face of Mentor when she wanted to communicate with Telemachus while he was looking for his father.

Recommended: Coach or Mentor? You Need Both

Therefore, a mentor refers to a counselor, someone who is capable of giving wise and prudent advice. Recently, the term has been widely used in the business environment since it has allowed to enhance the learning of employees based on the help of more experienced workers. There are two great types of mentoring. The best-known is called ‘behavioral mentoring.’ In this category, there is typically someone with more experience that tells the mentee what things should be done and how according to the way the mentor has worked for years in the company. This is a simple transmission of knowledge, like a father who’s teaching his son how to keep carrying out his profession.

The other mode of mentoring is known as ‘development mentoring.’ In this type, the process is not limited to a vertical transmission of knowledge from a mentor to a mentee. Here the mentor seeks, above all, that the mentee develops skills, finds ways to solve problems, to find ways to develop his or her own methods. For this reason, although the mentor must be someone experienced, it is more important that he or she be trained to develop the mentee’s intelligence.

Read also: Why people in the business world need a mentor?, by Suzzanne Uhland

This type of programs, especially the second one, not only allows the productive capacities of the company to continue in constant expansion but help the employees to build themselves as persons. It is, in some way, a social investment. When employees have gone through mentoring processes, particularly development mentoring ones, they generally positively affect the business environment and produce changes in other employees and processes of the entire company. This happens, above all, because development mentoring aims at a modification of the identity rather than just a behavioral programming. When the mentees have changed (actually, improved) a series of mental patterns, they become better people and employees.

Mentoring is more than a necessity for companies. Some might think that mentoring processes only take place in large companies, with a large human resources departments. Actually, it is not like that. In fact, mentoring programs in small and medium-sized companies have been as frequent as in large ones, and for several decades.

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The reasons why a company needs mentoring programs are basically two. The first one is that companies, like all systems, are becoming more complex as they grow and form subsystems (in the form of departments, such as logistics, marketing, production, etc.,) and these, in turn, gain depth during the growth of the company. This is one of the great objectives of any organization, but here there may be a problem if the departments start operating as independent entities and thus lose the direction of where the organization should go as a whole. Mentoring is, then, a way of building bridges between different areas, of transmitting knowledge among them and redistributing information more equitably.

The second reason is that mentoring itself leads us to question the idea of professional success. What does it mean to be successful? Certainly, it is not just about making money, but about building ourselves as people. Mentoring, then, is a possibility to do so, to bring new values to society, instead of focusing solely on productivity.

Mentoring makes us more human, in a moment of history when the obsessions with artificial intelligence and large-scale automation processes force us to rethink our situation in the world as human beings. Companies do not function thanks to the workforce of millions of machines (at least not for now,) but thanks to human beings who feel, who dream, who seek to improve themselves. So, it does not matter what industry a company belongs to, nor how big it is. A mentoring program can be tremendously beneficial in any case.

In this TED video, Kam Phillips explains how mentoring has the ability to change the world.

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The Most Common Mentoring Mistakes Made By Companies And Employees

Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about many times of the clear advantages of having a mentoring program set up for your employees, as well as joining one as a mentor or mentee in your organization. Companies benefit greatly when they pair up their employees and thus bring new member up to speed on the company’s practices, procedures, and goals while at the same time investing in the development of new members of the organization. If you are a senior employee, then mentoring opens up a door of opportunities in a whole different way, by giving you the chance to learn skills that perhaps were not relevant during your own training and that are common with today’s younger generations, or also by helping you enhance your own leadership skills in a real-world environment.

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It is clear that the advantages are many and for everyone involved, but then again we have to talk about the most common mistakes organizations and individuals make when putting together, maintaining and participating in a mentoring program. Mistakes and wrong dealings when it comes to mentoring can develop to become difficulty seeing the advantages of the relationship, benefiting from being part of a mentorship and even result in the failure of the program itself.

These are some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to mentorships.

Sometimes even great mentors fail because they forget to do things such as reframing challenges in a way that can be easily understood and properly assessed by the mentee. Our frame of mind is something crucial when it comes to finding ways to deal with obstacles as things may seem impossible to solve and predicaments may feel impossible from where we are standing. Reframing problems allow us to remove ourselves from the predicament and literally find a new approach. A great mentor knows this and sometimes that is what sets them apart from the rest. Forgetting about reframing or simply tackling issues without changing our frame of mind is a big mistake in mentoring and one that even experienced participants easily fall into.

Another big mistake in mentoring happens when mentors simply give out the answers to mentees. Finding solutions is about coaching individuals and helping them reach conclusions on their own for the most part. A good mentor is not a person who solves issues for you; instead, they guide you and help you find the answers on your own while helping you stay on track while a goal has been set and a plan has been hatched.

The problem with giving a mentee the solution to their issue is that we are literally taking away from them the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences. The job of a mentor is to facilitate such learning opportunities and not to take them away from their mentees.

A great way to mentor is to ask questions. Instead of telling them what to do, have them answer questions about why they haven’t done something yet, thus making them really think about what is it that is stopping them from taking risks or to analyze aspects that they may have not considered before.

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As a mentee, one of the biggest and most common mistakes is choosing a mentor that is too similar to you. It is very comfortable to talk to someone with your same background and way of thinking, so developing that kind of relationship will be naturally easy, however, it isn’t recommended to avoid contrast when it comes to mentoring. You will learn the most from partners that are of a different gender and background because you will be exposed to a whole new spectrum of experiences that can enrich your own. Think also outside of your chain of command and go for someone who is not your direct supervisor so you can avoid conflicts of interest. Be bold and brave and get out of your comfort zone.

Another mistake mentees make has to do with asking for advice that is too general. Always be specific about your questions, about the issues that worry you and about the advice you want to receive. It is normal to not be clear about your needs at first, but finding out is part of the experience.

As an organization, one of the most common mistakes people make is wrongly pairing participants. Sometimes this is done at random and that spells out a recipe for disaster. Remember that not all senior members are willing to participate in mentoring, so this shouldn’t be something that is imposed on people. The trick is to find people who are excited about the opportunity to teach others and partner them with employees who have interest in advancing their professional life and goals that can benefit from receiving help from others with more experience.

The last and probably the most important mistake companies make is that they forget to follow up and supervise their own mentoring program. That could mean the end of the program itself, easily.

 

A practical ABC of how to implement a mentoring program in your company

A mentoring process is an excellent solution for the development of any organization. This type of program allows the transmission of knowledge to be carried out in an efficient and friendly way, and it constitutes an opportunity for a company to produce and preserve a series of knowledge that it has discovered for years. Mentoring allows the contact and collaboration of workers from diverse areas and knowledge which brings great benefits in terms of communication and integration. One of the most positive consequences of this is that the workers who have gone through mentoring processes are more likely to make more effective and accountable decisions than others who have not as they feel more secure when they start executing new processes. However, it is important to learn how to develop these programs by the book. If a mentoring process is not implemented properly, it is possible that the corporate climate that a company has built so meticulously for years breaks down in a short time.

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For this reason, it is essential to take into account an ABC to be followed in order to implement a mentoring process in a company since it is not enough to establish a series of objectives to achieve and have the availabilities and knowledge of the mentors. Let’s see why.

First of all, a basic aspect that must be done to implement an appropriate mentoring process is taking advantage of the existing communications within the company and doing ‘some marketing’ among the employees of the whole organization. The important thing here is to explain what this process consists of to the executives of the company, and, above all, to make them feel included in this project. It is necessary to clarify what mentoring consists of, what its benefits are for an organization, what the main objectives are, who can participate in it, and how they can do it. It is important to clarify that mentoring is a voluntary process at all times and that both mentors and mentees carry out a mentoring process because they wish to do so. If an adequate explanation is achieved at this point, the more experienced employees of the company are more likely to feel motivated to be part of the mentoring project; especially, if they know that they have the full support of the organization.

Read also: The Best Tips For Making Your Mentoring Relationships Successful, by Suzzanne Uhland

To this extent, what follows from here is, first of all, a correct planning of the whole process. A series of clear and achievable objectives must be established, as well as a step-by-step approach to attain them in the short, medium and long-term. Here you can establish both the number and frequency of the mentoring sessions, as well as the operating guidelines that will be followed throughout the entire program, and the necessary tools for the transmission of knowledge.

In this first step, it is important to take all the time to properly plan and draw a roadmap that, although it may diverge a bit from the practice, will help to keep the program within clear limits. This, not only to not waste time but to prevent the mentoring program from turning into something completely different from what was initially planned.

The next step is the mentor training. It is not just about talking and talking about work experiences, but about meeting learning objectives, to listen to the mentee’s questions, to know how to assign tasks, and to have good communication. For all that, some training is required and all mentors should be trained, not only in mentoring techniques but in the most basic rudiments of instruction.

Recommended: Tips for Effectively Train and Mentor a New Project Manager

After all of the above, what follows is to select and assign both mentors and mentees. Because the mentoring program focuses almost exclusively on the first ones, it is essential to clarify what the skills and abilities of the mentors are, as well as the knowledge that they intend to transmit during the program. Likewise, it is necessary to identify which employees are willing to start a mentoring program, to and verify that there is a fluent and effective communication between the mentors and mentees who will work together.

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Finally, it is necessary to constantly review the performance of the program and to evaluate whether the proposed objectives were reached or not. Many errors occur the first time a mentoring program is implemented. It is normal (and, in fact, necessary.) The important thing is to identify them and to find ways to avoid incurring them again. Before any mentoring program, a company should take into account the previous program, and improving the new one in some way. This is the only way for a mentoring program to not negatively affect the business culture of an organization.

After the evaluation, the idea is to plan the next program again. It is advisable to study the mentoring processes of other companies and learning from the problems of others, as well as their good results.

Check this video for further information.

 

The Best Tips For Making Your Mentoring Relationships Successful.

 

Mentoring relationships are rich alliances in which both parties bring their best to the table in a joint effort to come out a better version of themselves at the end, not only professionally but also personally as well. As with most relationships, this is hard work and it requires practice and dedication in order to make the best out of the experience. Both parties must be willing to conform to the rules, to be honest, and forthcoming and to give their best effort when it comes to receiving advice and also giving it when needed. It is more common to see senior members of the organization paired up with much younger executives who want to take advantage of their experience so they know how to navigate the waters of career advancement. It isn’t different when it also works the other way around, when senior members utilize the skills of their mentees so they can learn about aspects of the business that they are not familiar with; things like technology, new trends and the evolution of the business itself towards places that are different from what they are used to.

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Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog we want to talk about some advice that can be useful for both mentors and mentees by helping them truly appreciate their mentoring relationship and learn from the mistakes and lessons that others have learned before from them. Remember that even if you look at mentoring as a bond in which someone takes the time and effort to guide a junior employee, that doesn’t mean the mentee is out of the hook when it comes to being responsible for giving back in this symbiotic partnership.

For mentors

Be an active listener. Listening is more than just sitting there and being quiet while the other person goes on about their life, their observations and postulate questions. Active listeners sit up straight, engage the speaker and annotate the information they receive so they can come back and review it. Using non-verbal language is extremely important in this engagement exercise and it works two ways: not only it allows you to show your mentee that you are interested in what they are telling you, but also it helps you process information in a way that gives you the best chance to answer back with insights that are truly useful and on point when it comes to advising for the best course of action.

Part of being an active listener also has to do with actually listening and trying not to talk so much. Some mentors believe that their job is to tell stories and illuminate their mentee with their particular clever insight on every situation. While this isn’t entirely wrong, you must know how to balance your speaking with your listening, as you need to make the right assessment as to how you can help, and how you cannot. Encourage independence and understand that your way of doing things may simply be one of the many ways out there to get things done. Personal anecdotes are great, but they should now take up all of the time you have together. Try listening and allowing your partner to talk so you can get a better read of what is going on and how you can help out.

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For mentees

Understand that most of the work has to come for you. You have to know that you are primarily being benefitted in these relationships and while you do bring a lot to the table if you do your part, there is a component of sacrifice and compromise that you must always keep in mind. Mentors are busy people who take time out of their days to share their knowledge and experience with you, so be sure to take responsibility for making the relationship work.

Keep in mind that your goals have to be clear and it is your job to define such goals. You must know what you want in order to achieve it, especially when you are consulting with someone as to which is the best way to do so.

Be curious and inquisitive at all times. You cannot be helped if you are not interested in what you are doing and a mentor will be motivated when they see you trying to improve. Always write down questions before sessions so you can talk about things that are important and you are not there just wasting the time of all parties involved. Make yourself available for your mentor and always make sure that you meet deadlines and keep appointments. Be honest and open about your doubts and trust the person you chose as a guide since they are a reflection of your projection for a better professional career and the advancement you want to reach as an individual. Always have a positive attitude and understand that being better requires a lot of hard work.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring refers to an opportunity in which senior members of an organization are paired up with younger associates in an attempt to exchange knowledge similar to a mentoring session but with the purpose of education the senior leaders in topics that younger employees handle with expertise. The use of reverse mentoring is something that is becoming very popular lately simply because mentoring, in general, is being utilized a lot more by companies, therefore it is only natural than when a proper mentorship is put in place, the exchange exists as a two-way street. Another reason why reverse mentoring is so popular has to do with the new era of technology in which we live today. New advances have made so that while our world is hyper-connected and doing business has become easier and more convenient than ever before, we also have to deal with a steep learning curve that sometimes is beyond people who are not used to this new technology and who did not grow up in an environment in which using computers and the internet is a commonality.

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In today’s article here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about what you need to have in mind in order to take advantage of reverse mentoring and how a program should be put together so that reverse mentoring can have the strongest possible impact in the organization and the individuals involved with mentorships.

In order to get started, you have to make exhaustive research as to what is the purpose of the program and ensure you are solving a need you have, not just doing it for the sake of doing it. It is easy to fall on a situation in which the reverse mentoring is being done just so junior employees feel like they are adding something to the mentoring relationship but just for the sake of feeling like they are being constructive. That would be the wrong way of going about reverse mentoring as the benefits must be tangible and must truly be beneficial for the company because they are attending a need, not just a desire for indulgence.

Social media and understanding the ins and outs of these phenomena is a great example of a need that most companies have when it comes to training their most senior members. It is not a secret that senior leaders are not too familiar with the benefits of social media being used as a marketing tool and as a way of gathering useful information from customers. It is helpful to aid them in moving away from thinking that social media is something for younger people to waste their time and see it for the amazing asset that it can become when being used properly.

The first meeting is the perfect moment to set goals and to start coming up with a strategy on how to accomplish those goals. Reverse mentoring should be a lot more informal and structure should be best kept at a minimum. At the beginning, the sessions should be spaced a couple of weeks in between to establish rapport and then to identify some of the needs of the particular pairing. Remember that using technology to communicate like social media, texting and other personal devices is a great way to change the whole setting of the mentoring sessions and at the same time immerse the participants on the type of environment they need to learn to utilize.

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Reverse mentoring is something that can grow in a very organic way and most of the time the best relationships end up forming on their own. However, this doesn’t mean that the company shouldn’t worry about strategies to help nurture the partnership and help them find the best environment in which to further advance. It is important to give the program the importance that it deserves and to encourage those in it to actively participate and those who are not members yet, to join.

Help members find compatible partners that are not just versed in the areas that are key to the success of the program, but also who have personalities that can further stimulate good dialogue and help those involved open up to their peer so they can grow together. It is important to identify those junior members of the organization that have potential to become tomorrow’s leaders. These individuals would be already cultivating a strong relationship with the people they will call colleagues later on and also with those whom they will work with side to side making the company more competitive, the workplace safer and the organization thrives.

Last but not least, always be open to feedback and criticism. These types of programs are not common and they are in a very experimental phase in most companies, so understand the importance of learning from mistakes and adjusting the course of the mission as you go along.

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Everything You Need To Know About Mentoring Millennials

Those who were born between the years of 1977 and 1997 are today considered over half of the workforce in the world, and in many companies, they are the overwhelming majority indeed. Millennials have a very different way to look at work, as they no longer feel that is an aspect of life that must be balanced with the other activities that constitute their existence, instead they see their employment as an important part of who they are and thus they look for work that they find empowering and personally fulfilling. Having these types of expectations from their work doesn’t come by itself as they also expect their job to afford them the opportunity to meet new people, network and tap into a higher purpose. That last point is probably one of the most important factors that create a key difference between this generation and the ones that came before them and it is the main reason why we want to focus on this article here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog.

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One of the first things to keep in mind is the fact that while millennials have very high expectations of their employees, they also set very high standards for themselves, mostly because they are used to surviving such a competitive environment that hosts a large population of young professionals with relatively few good positions in the job market. These conditions also mean that unlike any other generation, they expect their companies to be part of their path to success and expect much from partnering with mentors, an opportunity that can be quite fulfilling for all parties involved and for the organization in which the relationship develops.

Letting go of the traditional mentoring models is a great starting point for partnerships today. Normally the human resources area of sets up these programs and then pair together young employees with senior executives. They agree upon periods of evaluation to check progress and pretty much leave everything on hands of the mentor who is not only responsible for producing results but also for setting up a method to gain such results. The problem with this programs is that they are very generic and do not take advantage of all the potential that is coming together from both sides of the table. Millennials want to be more involved with the entire process and be active participants in their own mentoring.

For this type of people, is it important to work alongside those individuals they admire and whose position in the company they want to occupy one day. This is why it is so important for companies to ensure their senior managers are deeply involved with the mentoring programs and that they ensure these leaders are engaged and willing to participate.  

Reverse mentoring is another key aspect that comes into play when mentoring millennials in today’s workplace. We have mentioned in numerous occasions that successful mentorships should not be a one-way street, but instead work in a way that there is a mutually beneficial relationship with two sets of shoulders carrying the burden of responsibility and reaping the rewards that come along. Reverse mentoring identifies skills that are not so common in senior executives but that younger professionals possess, and create an environment in which a proper exchange of ideas can develop.

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Group mentoring is another great tool at a company’s disposal that can open the floor up for some great opportunities for sharing information. Senior executives can be assigned to groups of individuals interested in mentoring, or even a pool of candidates can engage in some peer-to-peer mentorship in which the group as a whole identifies goals and clearly highlights areas of interest. One of the best advantages of this approach is the fact that is less resource demanding and it gives a lot of control to those involved over the decisions they want to make when it comes to their career and the direction in which they want to steer towards.

All of these approaches offer their own sets of benefits and can help those involved reach their goals at different rates and with different levels of success. The most important thing in these cases is being able to empower employees and make them feel like they are part of the process, give them a chance to participate and give back to a company that takes the time of set up mentoring opportunities and more important of all, allows them to improve upon their leadership skills, something that many consider the most beneficial aspect of mentoring. Millennials are people who understand the value of great leaders and who are adventurous enough to take on these roles personally and carry on with courage and drive towards fulfilling their roles at the workplace. We can sum up by saying that flexibility and trust are the most valuable assets a company can provide when it comes to mentoring for a younger generation of professionals.

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Why people in the business world need a mentor?

When trying to start or impulse a business, many people start asking themselves questions like “how can I be successful?” or “is this the right way to do things?”. When this happens the recommendation is always the same: find yourself a mentor.

Finding a mentor is as important as having a great business plan. This happens because being able to nurture your business with the experience and advice of someone who has proven to know that it’s doing, is key to success.

No matter how good you did in school, how many people you know or how much potential you have if you don’t know how to use the tools at hand, your odds of succeeding decrease considerably. This (among other reasons) is why it is so important for individuals in the business world to find a good mentor.

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In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will share some reasons why it is crucial for people to find a mentor.

1 . It has been proven

The recommendation of finding a mentor in order to have better results in the business world is not a mere subjective opinion. According to Steven Berglas, from Forbes Magazine, studies show that those who have a mentor are proven to be more successful than those who never get one.

2 . It has no cost

What? Having a mentor is free? The answer to this is “yes, it is”.

Many people may find this hard to believe. But, a mentor is different than a coach and it doesn’t charge a dime. It is not about an insufferable case of generosity, it is about gratification for both the mentor and the mentee.

Usually, those who become mentors are already successful in their business field. They don’t need to be paid for the service they provide. Mentors do their job with a sense of serenity and gratification, knowing that they are contributing to the creation of a better world.

Besides all this, mentors tend to create a personal bond with their mentees. For this reason, the importance they give to their job, the love they have for their mentees and the knowledge they have to pass isn’t for sale.

3 . Relationships are personal

This is another item that many people may find hard to believe. This happens because most successful businessmen are well-known for being ruthless, and not giving a dime for others.

However, this is not entirely the truth. Actually, it is not even true for the majority of individuals in the business world, especially when it comes to mentorship.

Relationships between mentors and mentees are often personal. Mentors choose their mentees or vice-versa based on affinities or common interests. Sometimes, these relationships star without even knowing they are taking place.

A good way to illustrate this is the knowledgeable professor you met in business school and helped you boost your entrepreneurship. Or that experienced boss who looked after you when you were first starting to create your own company. All these people become part of their mentees’ lives and influence them in a personal and professional way.

4 . Inspiration is important

A mentor is an example to follow, and inspirational figure. They represent what any businessman wants to achieve. This is one of the reasons why finding a mentor is vital for a business to succeed.

Picture yourself as an entrepreneur who is struggling with many things. You still don’t know if you will make it to the next month and you wonder if what is happening to you has ever happened to anybody else. Then you look at your mentor and listen to its story. Suddenly, you find yourself in front of an individual who had to deal with countless ups and downs and succeeded in the end.

Mentors motivate entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. They become the inspiration we all need to succeed. They help us solve problems in a creative and useful way. They are also individuals that we respect, therefore, we are willing to follow their advice all the time.

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5 . Firsthand information and experience

It is not very likely for a person to be able to learn from the experiences told in books about how its business should be managed. Mentors are key to learn from the practice and not just the theory. They help you go through new situations and motivate you to learn about numerous subjects all at once.

A mentor is the voice of experience and knowledge. It is the best source any individual in the business world has to investigate about what may happen to its business or how to react to a difficult situation.

A mentor is not going to take a parental position. But, it will work as the perfect guide for the perfect situation. It will provide the necessary advice and recommendations to any situation that needs to be taken care of. Prove to this is that, all good mentors where once mentees.