Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

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?

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.

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.

Mentoring within KPMG

September 23, 2010

If you follow mentoring, you won’t want to miss this three minute interview of  Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, KPMG’s National Managing Partner for Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility. 

 KPMG has always had a strong mentoring culture and requires Senior Leaders to mentor members of diverse populations.  About a year ago,  KPMG elevated Ms. Hannan from an managing partner in taxation to the newly created National Managing Partner for Diversity.   In this role, this Native American CPA lead’s the firm’s diversity strategy and initiatives, including fostering an environment of inclusion that embraces diversity among KPMG’s partners, employees, vendors and clients, as well as community involvement.

DiversityInc. posted the video.  Ms. Hannan’s enthusiasm comes through as she talks of the cross pollination that occurs when mentoring occurs across multiple Employee Resource Groups.

At Mentor Resources, our focus is how a great match between the mentor and the mentee results in more engagement in the formal program. 

Ms. Hannan hits the same notes while discussing how it is human nature to want to be associated with success and to help others.  KPMG’s mentoring programs tap into this to engage employees.

A structured mentoring program creates an opportunity for employees to consider other perspectives and to feel their viewpoint is valued.  That direct dialog translates into “I am valued” for the mentee.  The mentor usually gains just as much, as they too learn of other perspectives.