Archive for the ‘mentoring tools’ 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.

 

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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

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.

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.

From Affinity Group to Business Resource Group

October 9, 2010

Thank you for visiting the Mentor Guru Blog. We have moved and this blog is now posted at:

http://www.mentorresources.com/blog/bid/111584/From-Affinity-Group-to-Employee-Resource-Group-ERG

Our goal is to share two decade of experience managing corporate mentor programs.

Good Boss: How to Be the Best

October 2, 2010

At Mentor Resources we believe in Strength-Based Learning.  We have built an entire company around the idea that a Great Match creates better results from a Mentoring Program.

But we recognize that most mentoring programs are part of a company’s leadership development or talent management program. So we read many of the newly published books on leadership and management development.

One that is worthy of you time is: Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best … and Learn from the Worst.

Written by Robert Sutton, Professor of Management and Engineering at Stanford University, the book blends the latest management and psychological research with stories derived from reaction to his prior book, The No Asshole Rule (a NY Times bestseller).

By contrasting examples of the best and worst bosses, Sutton builds a case for staying in attuned to how the people who work directly for you react to what you say and do.  The best bosses are self-aware and know that their success depends on accurately interpreting their impact on others, and having the self-control to make adjustments that spark effort, dignity, and drive among their people.

Most supervisors suffer from overestimating their intellectual and social skills, but the best bosses are keenly aware of their flaws and work to overcome them.  They constantly seek to change and improve the situation, sometimes calling in others to help. The best bosses devote significant effort to understanding how their moods and actions impact their followers’ performance.

A Summary of Useful Tricks for Taking Charge

Since the single most important thing bosses to is convince others that they are in charge, we will share with you Sutton’s seven steps for enhancing the perception of leadership:

1. Talk more than others, but not the whole time.

2. Interrupt occasionally—and don’t let others interrupt you too much.

3. Cross your arms when you talk.

4. Use positive self-talk

5. Try a flash of anger occasionally.

6. If you aren’t sure whether to sit or to stand, stand. Place yourself at the head of the table.

7. Surrender some power or status, but make sure everyone knows that you did so freely.

We are very interested in talking to organizations about their leadership development programs and the role of a formal mentoring program.