Archive for the ‘mentor’ 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.

 

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

Mentoring for New Hires (On-Boarding): Part 1

January 10, 2011

There are seven types of formal mentoring programs. 

Mentor Resources is one of the leading providers of software for managing mentoring programs with a few dozen pairs to thousands of particpants.  Our software can be tailored to nearly all of these.  Most of our customers run several mentoring programs with different objectives and participants, and our software has considerable flexibility to help you reach your mentoring goals.

By way of review, the seven types of mentoring programs we see with our clients are:

  • Mentoring for Succession Planning
  • Mentoring for Communities of Practice  
  • Reverse Mentoring
  • Mentoring for Career Development
  • Mentoring within Employee Resource Groups
  • Mentoring for Skills Transfer
  • Mentoring for On-boarding

On-boarding or Mentoring for New Hires may be the single most effective way to integrate new employees into an existing corporate culture.  A new employee is assigned a Mentor who is a peer.  The Mentor is there to explain the unwritten rules of the workplace and to shorten the learning curve of the new employee.

Every article and book about Millennials, the demographic group now in their 20’s, points out that these employees expect and seek a significant amount of feedback about their performance. Many managers (read this as “most Baby Boomers”) find this expectation draining.  This results in both the supervisor and the new employee frustrated and dissatisfied with the work environment. 

One effective solution is to pair the new employee with another, more experienced, Millennial as a Mentor.  Note, this experienced colleague is not the supervisor of the new employee, but someone who can give realistic feedback and temper the Millennial’s expectations to the organization’s norms. 

As a broad generality, Millennials view work as a central part of their life, not a separate activity that needs to be “balanced” against.   Therefore, finding work that’s personally fulfilling and socially connected is of paramount importance.

For these employees, mentoring can be a meaningful recruiting tool. Millennials assume work is a place to make new friends, learn new skills and connect to a larger purpose.  If an employer can offer the Millennial a clear path towards this, through a peer-mentor, the employer will be offering a compelling Employee Value Proposition. 

In plain English, your firm can get a better pool of candidates with peer-mentoring as part of the employment package and simulaniously take some of the burden off the line managers at the same time. Mentoring is one of the high priority factors Millennial strivers seek in an employer. 

Click here for a recent article from the Harvard Business Review on Millennials and mentoring.  Contact us directly for more information.

 

Who is Mentor Resources?

December 22, 2010

Mentor Resources is the second largest provider of mentoring software to Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and universities.  WisdomShare, our web-based application matches Mentors and Mentees, provides how to tools and training and follows up with the participants.  What makes  WisdomShareTM unique is our proprietary matching algorithm which uses job experience, work skills and over a dozen personality characteristics to create a match. 

 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 matches that work. 

Sharing What Works is our goal and motto.  Based upon a strengths-based learning model, we have built software which improves knowledge sharing, helps corporations reach diversity goals and enhances leadership development programs.

When Education and Training Aren’t Enough: IT Business Analysts

November 8, 2010

One area where Mentoring is critical to the development of Talent is the crossover between Technology Project Management and Business Analysts – employees who can keep the IT project on track to solve the business problem. This combination of skills goes by different job titles in different firms: Business Analyst, Business System Analyst, Business System Planner and Business Solutions Architect are among the most common.  Regardless of the title, this is an experienced manager, who is able to keep the IT project on track as a solution to a business problem.

The person may come out of the Operations or IT.  Their role is to bridge the chasm and facilitate communication between the two sides. As with any other leadership role, competency comes from acquiring the technical skills (education and training) and experience, which is facilitated by mentoring from someone more experienced.

At minimum, Business Analysts need education in Project Management, Business Administration, plus Computing and Management Information Systems. 

These managers are challenged by: 

1)     A temptation to overanalyze.  Seeking feedback from both sides is essential, but can lead to analysis paralysis.

2)     Business Analyst move into a generalist role with both the business and technical arenas.  One risk is the loss of credibility if the Analyst doesn’t stay current with technology and business trends

3)     Business Analysts can sometimes dominate the conversation.  Often, this causes them to become a barrier rather than a facilitator of the conversation.

But probably the biggest challenge is the lack of skill.  IT departments tend to assign employees with strong technology skills the role of Business Analyst.  They often lack the management skills and business skills.  They get caught up in the projects specifications, and lose track of the larger business problem which the specifications attempted to address.

We just read a very interesting article on Business Analysts – and almost every page of the white paper made reference to the challenge of developing this talent and the role of mentoring.  Please click here to go to Business Analyst: The Pivotal IT Role of The Future by Kathleen B Hass, PMP for Management Concepts 

Management Concepts offers a number of training offerings for the development of Business Analysts. But even with offerings focused on “leadership and facilitation skills, rich in lean-thinking, agile tool sets … and a real world IT situations including outsourcing challenges” their printed material continues to discuss the importance of mentoring for both the individual’s career and as a tool for managers advancing the organization’s IT Business Analyst capability.

Mentor Resources is the second largest provider of tools for formal mentoring programs.  WisdomShare™ has been designed to find a great match between the mentor and the mentee, so that they are both engaged and thus, a faster transfer of knowledge and experience.

Preparation for a Community of Practice

November 3, 2010

Formal Mentor Programs almost always have to goal of managing and transferring knowledge.  Well-run companies recognize that knowledge (or intellectual capital) is the source of their value creation, and that these assets need to be shared and expanded within the firm.

In this context, we have been thinking about the classic, Cultivating Communities of Practice, by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder. Communities of Practice come together around their shared interest and expertise.  If the community is thriving, it increases the intellectual capital of the individuals and the organization. The book focuses on “aliveness,” a key characteristic of successful Communities of Practice, and how to encourage its development.  Aliveness is driven by the personal interactions of the participants. 

It can be challenging to get a  Community of Practice started, as a “community” is a human institution that, by definition, is spontaneous, self-directed and usually evolves naturally. Communities, unlike project teams or matrix reporting structures, need to invite the interaction – as this creates “aliveness”. 

According to the authors, creating a Community of Practice in your organization means thinking along the lines of life-long learning, rather than traditional organizational design.  The first step is to draw in potential members and to have them extend the community to their personal and professional network.  

Creating the right environment to encourage the development of a Community of Practice, involves first building a robust culture of sharing knowledge across multiple locations and departments.  This would describe most of the firms who believe they have strong mentoring cultures. 

If your organization is thinking about how to create or improve its mentoring culture, we would like to talk to you. Mentor Resources is the second largest provider of software tools for formal Mentoring Programs.

IBM’s War for Talent

October 17, 2010

I know several women who tell the same story. 

They graduated from a top-tier college in the early 1960’s.  Near their graduation date, they were offered an opportunity to sit for an IQ test and, based upon the results, they were immediately hired by a large insurance company to be trained as a computer programmer. (This was in the era when a “computer bug” was a moth that flew into the vacuum tubes and shut down the computer.)

To us, in 2010, The War for Talent is a term McKinsey coined and promoted in the late 1990’s and is also the title of a book by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones and Beth Axelrod.  Published by Harvard Business School Press in 2001, the book has become a classic.  The authors argued that coming demographic shifts would make it harder to replace leaders in the future.  For business to succeed, they would need to

  1.  expand their understanding of the pool of potential leaders to include women and minorities, and
  2. actively develop the leadership skills of their existing and future employees.

But the War for Talent (in computer programming) was so fierce, in 1964, that my friends, with no experience with computers, were offered jobs that included training in programming.

 Which brings me full circle, to this video (click here), shown by IBM when the company won the Out & Equal Workplace Excellence Award.  The video is short and well worth your time.  A number of employees read Policy Letter #4, a half page memo signed by then IBM President, Thomas J. Watson Jr., in 1953.  The same employees then tell their name/origin and their years of employment with IBM.

So what was happening at IBM in 1953, that prompted the President of IBM write a memo which was radical for the times? Click here to read the full text, but in part it reads, “It is the policy of this organization to hire people who have the personality, talent and background necessary to fill a given job, regardless of race, color or creed.” 

What was happening in 1953?  IBM was experiencing talent acquisition challenges.  Ten years later, these same challenges to finding qualified programers would prompt large computer users (like insurance companies) to hire “people off the streets” in hopes that they could be trained in the role.  (IQ alone turned out to be a poor way to hire future computer programers. None of these friends lasted more than a month in their training program.) 

IBM has been fighting to get and keep the best people for over fifty-five years.  No wonder the company is a leader in diversity, in mentoring, in talent management and in sponsorship.  (See our September 22, 2010 blog.)

The original war for talent study was done in 1997.  The follow up study by McKinsey (War for Talent, Part Two), presented evidence that  “companies doing the best job of managing their talent deliver far better results for shareholders. Companies scoring in the top quintile of talent-management practices outperform their industry’s mean return to shareholders by a remarkable 22 percentage points.”

Mentor Resources is the premier provider of provides tools for mentoring to improve employee retention and engagement.  Because a Great Match results in a Better Mentoring Experience. 

Ask us how we can help your talent-management program.