Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

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.

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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.

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.