Posts Tagged ‘mentoring’

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mentorship vs. Sponsorship

September 22, 2010

This month’s Harvard Business Review has an article Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women which prompted us to reflect on the pyramid of women in American business. Women represent over half of all managers at fifty-one percent, yet less than fourteen percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies are women.

Herminia Ibarra (from INSEAD) and Nancy Carter and Christine Silva (both of Catalyst) believe there is a difference between Mentors and Sponsors.

Mentors were expected to provide psychosocial and career support. Most mentors focus on personal and professional development.

Sponsorship, by contrast, involves advocating for advancement. Without sponsorship, a person is less likely to be promoted, even if they are high-potential. Research by Kathy Kram suggests that someone is likely to be overlooked for promotion regardless of his or her competence and performance. This is especially true for managers at mid-career and beyond.

Mentors and Sponsors: How They Differ

Mentors

  • Can sit at any level in the hierarchy
  • Provide emotional support, feedback on how to improve and other advice
  • Focus on mentee’s personal and professional development
  • Help mentees learn to navigate corporate politics
  • Serve as role models

Sponsors

  • Must be senior managers with influence
  • Give proteges exposure to other executives who may help their careers
  • Make sure their people are considered for promising opportunities and challenging assignments
  • Protect their sponsorees from negative publicity or damaging contact with senior executives
  • Fight to get their people promoted

The article ended on a positive note: Women in formal mentoring programs were more likely to win promotions than those who had found their own mentors.

So, while firms are only beginning to have clear sponsorship expectations from mentors in their high-potential programs, some sponsorship was occurring. In one example cited, IBM Europe has a clearly defined sponsorship program for senior women below the executive level. Sponsors are expected to get their candidates ready to for the next level within a year. Failure to obtain a promotion is viewed as a failure of the sponsor, not of the candidate.

We would like to talk to you about how WisdomShare™ can help you achieve your firm’s mentoring or sponsorship goals.

Kim Wise  &  Elizabeth Pearce