Our blog has moved!

September 19, 2012

We’ve grown up and so has our blog. You can now find it on our website:

http://www.mentorresources.com/mentoring-blog/

We hope you will visit it in it’s new home!

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Thank you – We have moved

December 1, 2011

Thank you readers, but we have moved this blog to our corporate website.  All of these articles have been transferred and we have an exciting line up of experts to discuss mentoring.

Join us here http://www.mentorresources.com/blog/

as we share Insights into Mentoring and Coaching at GE Healthcare.

Four Generations in the workplace

October 29, 2011

Mentor Resources is presenting a free webinar on  “The Importance of Mentoring with Four Generations in the Workplace.”

We have moved our blog to a new location  http://www.mentorresources.com/blog/

The Full Cost of a Mentoring Program

October 26, 2011
Kim Wise, CEO

Every prospective client is concerned with the cost of software for the administration of a formal mentoring program.

We are often struck by the short-sightedness of the cost question.  From our perspective, the real cost is the damage of a poor match.  A bad experience hurts the firm’s reputation, risks alienating mentor and harms the potential career of the mentee.

Mentoring programs succeed for many reasons, and these are as complex as human nature.  The ability for two people to learn from each other is based on multiple factors. A match with good chemistry has more going for it than skills, competencies and functional areas.

In a great match, the mentor and mentee have similar motivations around “work” and what it means in their lives. They have personalities that mesh well.

In a mis-match, they may learn a few things, but they are unlikely to develop a friendship and a longer term tie that is potentially life changing. This is the product manager, who didn’t get the mentor who would broaden his or her thinking and didn’t influence their creativity.  The result is less innovation for the company sponsoring the mentoring program – a loss that dwarfs the cost of the software.

In a mis-match, the organization’s money is wasted, as neither is able to use the experience to its fullest nor to maximize their personal potential.  This is the first real cost – the lost opportunity for learning.

The second real cost is reputational.  The mis-match often causes people to wonder why their organization gave them yet another meaningless task.  Morale declines. Learning is stifled.  Before long, the mentoring program has a bad reputation.  Potential mentors beg off, saying they “are too busy.” Past mentors drop out because the experience isn’t enjoyable.  In today’s hyper connected world, those negative experiences impact your potential employees.  They can also cost an
organization it’s best people, if the competition has a stronger employee value proposition.

Mentor Resources is the premier provider of tools for formal Mentoring Programs. The key to our program is WisdomShare®, the matching algorithm, which is based on Ms. Wise’ 20 years of experience managing mentoring programs and advising administrators of formal mentoring programs. In addition to job experience and work skills, the cloud-based software  evaluates over a dozen personality characteristics to find a Great Match.

The goal of all Mentoring Programs is to speed up the process of Sharing What Works. We
believe that the Mentee will accept advice and adopt strategies from a Mentor more quickly if they have similar strengths and communication styles.  Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the Mentees in programs which use WisdomShareTM for matching report being well matched with the Mentor.

The web-based software has been designed for ease of use by the Human Resource Department or the Program Administrator. The software integrates seamlessly with existing corporate Intranet functionality.

So, what is the cost?  We offer a compelling value proposition relative to other mentoring software providers and our pricing is very competitive.  Call (415-380-0918) or email us (KWise “at” MentorResources.com) to discuss your needs and to recieve a proposal.

 

Human Capital and Risk Management

October 21, 2011

Although Human Capital accounts for of operating costs at most companies and can have a significant impact on business results, the management of Human Capital Risk tends not to be a focus of Enterprise Risk Management Professionals.

The risks range from unionization/labor relations to offshoring and outsourcing to staffing in a pandemic to turnover/retention and the loss of intellectual capital and experienced workers.  Drilling down in Managing Human Capital Risk: A Call for a Partnership between Enterprise Risk Management and Human Resources, a Conference Board survey done earlier this year, a “shortage of critical skills within your company’s workforce” was the specific risk most on the minds of Senior Executives.

Out of eleven risk categories, the executives ranked Human Capital Risk as having the fourth highest impact on business results, ahead of financial, reputational, supply chain, and IT risks.  Still, it was interesting to note that less than one-third (31 percent) of companies believe they effectively assess human capital risk, and 24 percent believe they do an ineffective job.

Peter Cappelli, Director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School, recently published an article Managing Human Capital Risk which discusses the potential for risk in human resources to negatively affect entire business organizations.

We would encourage all administrators of mentoring programs click through and read Professor Cappelli’s article and to adopt the language of risk management in talking to colleagues, both inside and outside the Human Resources Department.

Regarding these risks, Mentoring programs offer:

  • A tool for Increasing Tacit Knowledge. Tacit Knowledge is skills that can only be gained through experience, which is the primary purpose of most mentoring programs. This is the intellectual capital which keeps the company running smoothly, but is difficult or impossible to capture in patents and formal processes.  Thus, Mentoring is the most effective way to transfer and increase Tacit Knowledge.
  • A way to Reduce Costs for training by lowering turnover. Higher retention is a side effect of both higher job satisfaction and help with career advancement.
  • Expanding the Critical Skills within the Workforce, the Talent Development part of the mentoring program.

Of course, at Mentor Resources, we believe the effectiveness of the mentor-mentee match is highly correlated with the measurable results from the mentoring program. If you would like to see a white paper on this topic, send me an email at KWise “at” MentorResources.com or call me at 415-380-0918.

* * *

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School. His latest book, with Bill Novelli, is Managing the Older Worker: How to Prepare for the New Organizational Order

If the topic of demographics in your workforce is of interest, Mark your calendar now for November 3rd at 11:00 AM  PST/2PM EST for “The Importance of Mentoring with Four Generations in the Workplace.”

Four generations, with different values and communication styles, have created interesting challenges in the workplace.  Don’t miss Mentor Resources’ informational webinar for managers on Thursday, November 3.  RSVP with Jennifer Aguilar  at jaguilar “at” MentorResources.com or 415-380-0918.

An Effective Mentoring Program Can Save Your Company Money

October 18, 2011

Everyone wants to feel valued.  Mentoring programs have been shown to increase participant engagement in two ways: Mentors feel good about themselves and their work experience and mentees feel more valuable to their companies.

Higher engagement translates directly into lower turnover and better job performance – impacting your bottom line.

These results can be measured directly through retention or turnover rates, job satisfaction surveys and quantifiable results based on skills transfer.

Effectiveness of your mentoring program needs to be evaluated using these measures.
Effectiveness of the Administration of a Mentoring Program will be seen in the quantitative results. At the end of the day, all the numbers reflect the chemistry of the mentor-mentee match.

If you are looking to improve the quality of the average match in your program, you need to know why the WisdomShare™ algorithm is different from other products for managing a formal mentoring program.  Send me an email at KWise “at” MentorResources.com or call me at 415-380-0918.

With Unemployment Above 9%

October 12, 2011

With unemployment at current levels, why would any manager focus on mentoring?  Why spend money on current employees when they should be happy to have their job?

As an observer of the American business environment, I find myself startled at the short-sightedness of managers who make comments like these.  And yet, I have heard these comments and been stunned to see them written in blogs.

Near as I can figure, the questions must derive from the commenter’s own fear of losing their job.  They are extremely short-sited and not to the benefit of any company that expects to remain in business for more than a few more quarters.

It is well documented that an outstanding manager (or employee) will contribute significantly more than an average employee in the same position to the firm’s bottom line.  Thus, it should be obvious that leveraging your best employees impacts the bottom line in a meaningful way. Today, every manager needs every one of his or her employees to be a better than average employee.  Rather than taking employees for granted (“since there are no jobs out there”), managers should be focused on increasing engagement, efficiency and proficiency at the job.

The impact can be meaningful: BestBuy, for example, has recently shared with observers that a 0.1% increase in average employee satisfaction within a store increases revenues, at that store, by $100,000 per year.

Mentoring is the fastest way to share the perspective and tacit knowledge of the outstanding employees.  Tacit knowledge is the counterpart to classroom learning.  It’s the subtle lessons of experience and observation over time.

When an employee who has been successful in the organization agrees to mentor a less experienced employee and they click – creating a good mentoring experience – the perspective of the successful employee is leveraged and magnified.

Mentor Resources provides software for the administration of formal mentoring programs.  WisdomShare™ is a proprietary algorithm which matches Mentors and Mentees to create a good match, where the pair share personality traits.  Tell us about your company’s mentoring program.  Let us share thoughts on how it might be improved.

Why Does a Better Match Matter?

October 1, 2011

Mentor Resources a leading provider of software for the administration of formal mentoring programs. Many Human Resources professionals refer to the largest provider of this type of software as Match.com for the workplace.  Using that analogy, WisdomShare™ is the eHarmony of the workplace as our match is based on skills, education, job level AND over a dozen personality characteristics.

Based-on the ideas of strength-based learning, WisdomShare™ was developed with the premise that if your Mentor is successful with a personality similar to your own, you will be more motivated to adopt the Mentor’s approach and insights into the workplace. That is, if your Mentor is like you in predominantly thinking in numbers, or also irritates people with their fast, sometimes brusque, speaking style, you can learn how those personality traits have been turned to assets in your organization.

What we find is that people click and like one another.  Mentoring software matches can produce a blind date, although that has not been the experience described by participants in our client’s programs. Many of the pairs matched by WisdomShare™ remain in-touch and describe themselves as friends beyond the duration of the mentoring program.

But does it matter? Companies exist to create products and services and generate a profit – not to create warm-feelings and friendships among co-workers.  Human Resource professionals want to see higher retention (lower hiring and training costs), higher engagement (resulting in greater workplace productivity) and faster transfer of skills among employees. Intuitively, that click should produce better results from the mentoring program.

The book Connected : The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler gave us a new perspective on the question. Everyone seems to be talking about how we, as individuals, connect to others and how newer technologies are changing our networks.

Christakis and Fowler have written a book that is clear and interesting.  The authors explore network contagion in back pain, suicide, politics and emotions.  (We’ve all experienced offices where morale is low and felt it spread from person to person. Neuroscientist can demonstrate the limbic system in our brains mirrors the emotional state of our coworkers.)

It is possible take these ideas of Christakis and Fowler and map social networks within large firms.  Terrance Albrecht, a researcher in the area of communication in large organizations, did this research and found that there are two networks within most companies.  A job-task related communciation network and social-only communication network. (This makes sense, a second network of people with similar outside interests or shared experience who may have met through a BRG/ERG.)

The mentoring match matters because (connecting the ideas of Christakis, Fowler and Albrecht), innovation and sharing new ideas in the workplace appears to only occur when and where the work network overlaps with the social network.  Albrecht found that only 13% of communication included innovative ideas, but the social network appeared to be essential for employees to develop the trust necessary to share new ideas.

We’ll write more on this in future blogs.  In the meantime, please call us to discuss your firm’s mentoring program and how a great match can reduce costs through improved employee retention, or increase profitability through increased employee engagement.

Who is Mentor Resources?

September 1, 2011

Mentor Resources is the second largest provider of software for the administration of formal mentoring programs for large enterprises, including Fortune 500 companies, professional associations, governmental organizations, universities and other non-profits.

WisdomShare ®, our web-based application matches Mentors and Mentees, provides how to tools and training and follows up with the participants. What makes WisdomShare ® unique is our proprietary matching algorithm which uses job experience, work skills and over a dozen personality characteristics to reate a match.

Kim Wise, the founder of Mentor Resources, has been matching Mentors and Mentees for nearly 20 years. Over time, it became obvious that a Great Match creates better results from a Mentoring Program. Mentor Resources was founded on the idea that a Great Match could be found using software. Today, Mentor Resources is the premier provider of tools for formal mentoring Programs.

WisdomShare ®, our matching algorithm, is based on Ms. Wise’ experience. In addition to job experience and work skills, the software evaluates over a dozen personality characteristics to find a Great Match.

The goal of all Mentoring Programs is to speed up the process of Sharing What Works. We believe that the Mentee will accept advice and adopt strategies from a Mentor more quickly if they have similar strengths and communication styles.  Studies by our clients have shown that more than 95% of all Mentees in programs which use WisdomShare ®  report being well matched with the Mentor.

The web-based software has been designed for ease of use by the Human Resource Department or the Program Administrator. The software integrates seamlessly with an existing Intranet.

A Great Match creates better results from a Mentoring Program – measurable in higher retention, higher employee engagement, lower cost, faster promotions or whatever the goals of your organization’s mentoring program. WisdomShare®  is one-of-a-kind in delivering great matches.

Sharing What Works is our goal and motto.

Our software is based upon a strengths-based learning model.  Our cloud-based software improves knowledge sharing, helps corporations reach diversity goals and strengthen business resource groups (ERG/BRG) and enhances existing talent development programs.

Talk to us about your mentoring program needs at +1-415-380-0918 or Info “at” MentorResources.com

How To Keep Your Best Employees – An Interview with Brooks Holtom

February 2, 2011

Brooks C. Holtom’s goal is to bridge the gap between human resource professionals and academics in the field of Organizational Behavior. Dr. Holtom is a Professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, and the recipient of the 2006 Academy of Management award for Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication in Organizational Behavior, for his article Increasing Human and Social Capital by Applying Job Embeddedness Theory.  Job Embeddedness Theory is described in detail in the prior post, which can be found by scrolling down.

But given the high level of job dissatisfaction and burnout, we wanted to get Professor Holtom’s thoughts on why employees stay at their job.

Holtom:  What is keeping employees in their jobs today is the macroeconomic environment. (High unemployment, employer’s reticence to add to payrolls and the lack of wage premium for movement.) 

We are seeing a pent-up desire to move that will find expression when the job market picks up.  Companies have “leaned down” during this economic slowdown, so it seems fair to assume that the current employees are the ones the company wants to keep.  If so, now is the ideal time to think about Job Embeddness and how to retain those employees when the economy improves.

Employees may be unhappy but are currently staying in their jobs. So you believe now is a great time to address some of the concerns of the employees and re-engage them.

Holtom:  Yes.  We’ve seen dozens of studies over the years showing higher engagement and organizational commitment results in higher productivity. Now is when employers need to be thinking systematically about the links, fit and sacrifice which employees have with their jobs and looking for ways to increase these levers.

We’ve had five decades of research on Job Satisfaction, three decades of writings on Organizational Commitment and over a decade of thought on Employee Engagement.  Job Embeddedness is another tool for companies to diagnostically evaluate the employee value proposition as a totality.  It creates an opportunity to see things which can make the employer unique and desirable in the employee’s (or recruit’s) mind.

Let me give you an example, Adobe employees in Seattle put a premium local produce. Upon learning that some employees were spending Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market, the company roped off part of the parking lot on Friday afternoons and encouraged local farmers to sell their produce there. The produce vendors were thrilled to have a new location with no additional charges.  The employees had a unique perk, which many valued. This cost the company almost nothing while increasing the sacrifice an employee would feel if leaving for a firm in another location.

The challenge for Human Resource professionals is the efficiency of treating everyone the same, which conflicts with the reality that each person remains a unique individual.  Adobe’s “value-added” produce market might add little to no value in another part of the country or for people in another industry.  So, people in HR need to be creative to find unique ways to add value.  Surveys are not the answer, but rather open communication with individuals and careful listening.

What a great example of the sacrifice in of Job Embeddedness theory.

Holtom:  The Adobe-Seattle example brings the external world to bear on the sacrifice if one leaves the company.  Mentoring can strengthen the links to colleagues and therefore to the corporation. But for all the benefits to accrue, it cannot feel forced or contrived, therefore I encourage companies to support their mentoring programs with funds for lunches or social events.

I would also interpret that as a plug for the importance of a great match between the Mentor and Mentee and the advantages of Mentor Resources’ personality-based matching with WisdomShare™. Thanks.

Holtom:  Mentoring can also enhance the tendency of corporate cultures to reflect the choices of specific people with the organization.  The informal actions of individuals influence the fit, and employees self-select. Ben Schneider’s, People Make the Place, discusses the how the Attraction- Selection-Attrition reinforces the corporate culture. In the company is seeking greater diversity in viewpoints, this can be disadvantageous.  A particular group or perspective can become over-represented.

Some companies set a goal for their mentoring programs of broadening managers’ perspectives.  Tell me about your own mentoring experiences.

Holtom:  I chose the University of Washington’s PhD program in order to study with Terrence Mitchell and Thomas Lee, who were working on an Unfolding Model of Voluntary Turnover.  They became friends, co-authors and remain my mentors.

We now know that reciprocity works in nearly all cultures.  Being asked for help and being valued for your insight and experience is flattering.  But reciprocity theory shows that by making the effort and extending help, you increase the sense of connection and your perception of the other person’s value. Mentoring can benefit the organization, but it makes the mentor and the mentee feel better about themselves and about each other. With Terrence and Thomas, working with them and having them as mentors, has made me a better person.

Thank you.