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Diversity Challenges: Can Mentoring Always Help?

Posted on Wed, Jan 14, 2015

mentoring and diversityJanuary is not only the month that we celebrate one of the most important figures in our nation's recent history, Martin Luther King, but it is also National Mentoring Month. I don't think it is a mistake that these two celebrations are intertwined. Martin Luther King was a change-maker, a visionary, a man with a mission, a hero....he was brave, perservering, intelligent, respectful and humble. Are these some of the adjectives you would use to describe your ideal mentor? 

At Management Mentors, we see many different kinds of mentors with differing personalities, strategies and goals. Combining mentoring and diversity can be challenging. Mentoring may not have been Dr. King’s goal, but he is undoubtedly one of the most looked-up-to mentors our country has ever had. 

There are many companies today with lofty diversity goals and initiatives. Even if a company is enlightened enough to establish a structured mentoring initiative, it may not be sensitive to the unique needs involved in diversity mentoring, such as finding diverse mentors and understanding how to navigate successfully in a majority culture. It is important, therefore, for anyone exploring a mentoring initiative to identify its goals, not only for the organization, but for the mentorees. Our approach is to respect and build upon the company’s culture and the needs of employees being mentored. A one-size-fits-all approach will fall short of achieving your goals. 

According to this recent Fast Company article, Natalie Madeira Cofield launched her own mentoring organization, Walker's Legacy, after finding it impossible to find any female African American business mentors to guide her while she navigated her way to success. Cofield, a young, successful entrepreneur wanted and needed to be able to have very sensitive and HONEST conversations with diverse individuals such as herself, but was surprised when she couldn’t find any other African American businesswomen willing to fill the role. Cofield said "You need mentors who will say, ‘that wasn’t the right thing to do’ or ‘you shouldn’t be wearing that’ … someone who’s going to be honest like that," she explains. 

While we applaud Cofield’s extremely admirable and important contribution to the world of mentoring, we would like to help make it easier for companies to create effective mentoring and diversity programs, so that not everyone has to go out and reinvent the wheel. We have many free resources on mentoring and diversity including the following:

How to Start a Diversity Conversation in Your Mentoring Program

Diversity Initiatives & Mentoring Programs

The Diversity Manager's Role in Your Mentoring Program 

So, while mentoring may not always be the solution to your company's diversity initiatives, it certainly can play a large role in alleviating those "elephant in the room" conversations and allow for some real, honest discussions that may lead to a more successful diversity program and, ultimately, a more successful company.

Finally, if you have not already seen it, check out Common's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes this past weekend. Common and John Legend won the award for best original song in a movie. The song is Glory from the movie Selma—the story of MLK’s initiative to obtain equal voting rights for all via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Common’s speech reminds us all why diversity initiatives are so important.


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Need Better Leadership Skills? Get a Mentor!

Posted on Mon, Jan 12, 2015

Many people believe that you are either born with leadership skills or you are not. Although some people are natural born leaders, it is possible to learn how to lead....and mentoring can help. 

How does mentoring foster leadership?

leadership skillsMost people need to learn and continually practice leadership skills. There are very few naturals out there. A mentoring relationship provides a safe place to learn about leadership, ask questions, make mistakes, and receive coaching from someone who has been there, done that.

Let's consider some compelling statistics, findings, and quotes on leadership and mentoring:

• More and more companies (nearly 60% according to this survey) are reporting a shortage of qualified leadership talent.

• “Leaders hold the key to employee engagement”—from Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Trends in Global Engagement Report.

• “69% of business leaders say it’s important to have a mentor”—from Entrepreneur.

• “The difference between the impact that a top-performing leader and an average leader has on an organization is at least 50 percent, according to leaders participating in Global Leadership Forecast 2011.

• “Leadership development cannot be left to chance”—from the Center for Creative Leadership’s white paper titled Grooming Top Leaders: Cultural Perspectives from China, India, Singapore, and the United States. 

When it comes to developing leaders, why would mentoring be more beneficial than coaching?

Would there be a situation where coaching would make more sense than mentoring? When you mentor, you’re also coaching. What mentoring does in addition to coaching is it brings in the personal relationship. Both coaching and mentoring should exist within the organization. Coaching is about getting things done. Mentoring is about transforming people and transforming the group. (Read more about the differences between mentoring and coaching in this free white paper.) That said, we know some coaches today who feel that coaching has evolved over the last decade or so and that they bring a personal relationship to the work they do. And that’s great. But we maintain that when this happens, the person transitions from being a coach to being a mentor. It’s a fine line, but it’s important to note the distinction.

Mentoring and Leadership in Action

An employee with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service describes working on specific leadership skills with his mentor. Read the complete case study here. “The mentoring program was very valuable. My mentor and I addressed two of the Service’s leadership competencies: visioning and strategic planning. This included interviewing stakeholders, reviewing documents, preparing a vision statement, and updating my program’s strategic plan consistent with national, regional, and field office priorities. I was using the document almost as soon as I completed it and know that it will benefit my program. As a result of this process, I am also now more experienced with these two leadership competencies. In addition to the specific goals that my mentor and I addressed through the program, I benefited in many other ways. I received career advice, exposure to another program, and much appreciated feedback from an objective third party. Lastly, and most importantly, I gained a new friend who I will be able to turn to in the future.”


Excerpts of this post are taken from our latest white paper, Leadership & Mentoring: FAQ's, Tips and Real-Life Stories. To learn more such as "Why do Leaders Need to Mentor?" and "What Does a Leadership Program Look Like?" download the free white paper now. 


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Mentoring and Diversity

Posted on Fri, Dec 19, 2014

diversity mentoringI was recently invited by a prospective client to meet with the mentoring team to discuss diversity and mentoring.  Their goal was to use mentoring to promote diversity within the organization in order to promote the advancement of diverse individuals. After an hour of good conversation, it became clear that the organization was not prepared to implement a specific diversity program. The main issue was that the company could not guarantee that people of diversity would be promoted within two years of implementing the program.  Since that’s the case, people of diversity would view this as window dressing as opposed to as a serious effort to promote diversity.

There are several key issues when considering mentoring and diversity:

  1. The purpose has to have results that people can see and that are measurable. The program has to make a real difference in the lives of diverse individuals.
  2. The organization has to be prepared with diversity information that may be difficult to hear, but that is necessary in order to change the culture.
  3. Measure the current culture of the organization to ensure that it is ready for that conversation—the one we most often avoid. (We wrote a great article about How to Start a Diversity Conversation in Your Mentoring Program that could help.)
  4. The organization needs to understand that when a diversity conversation occurs in a trustful and confident relationship, mentors become champions for diversity because they will have had a first hand experience with a diverse individual that makes the issues “real” to the majority individual.

Diversity mentoring programs are powerful and should be implemented within the right context. To not do so is to do a disservice to both mentoring and diversity. 

For more information on diversity and mentoring, download our FREE white paper, How to Leverage Your Mentoring Program, below:

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Four Things that Should NEVER Happen in a Mentoring Program

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2014

Mentoring is a very flexible program that can fit the needs of any given organization. Programs will vary based upon specific criteria, specific focus areas, and specific programs. However, there are areas that should never be included in a professional mentoring program. Here are the top four:


Matching-who should be involved?

1. If senior management has not participated in the matching discussion, they should not review the final list of matches submitted by the program manager and make changes, since the changes they are likely to make will not be based upon a clear understanding of mentoring. Get more FREE tips on matching here.

mentoring matching  

Mentor/Mentoree/Manager relationship-what does that look like?

2. The mentorees’ manager should never have a conversation with the mentor about the mentoring relationship. Although, one can argue that this conversation would be valuable in helping the mentoree develop, the downside is it confuses the roles of the mentor and the manager and compromises the issue of confidentiality between the mentor and the mentoree.

Importance of a program manager

3. A program should not be implemented without a program manager who is responsible to match, manage and support the pairs throughout the mentoring relationship. To not have a program manager means that the mentoring pairs are more likely to flounder and struggle instead of having a good, solid, productive relationship. Learn more about program managers in our previous post, What Role Does a Mentoring Program Manager Play in a Mentoring Program?


Talent review-should mentor participate?

4. The mentor should never participate in a talent review conversation about the mentoree. This is a job between the mentoree and the mentoree’s manager. Again this, compromises confidentiality. 

If you avoid these four pitfalls, your program will be a lot more solid and generate better results.

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Business Mentoring eBooks make great holiday gifts!

Posted on Thu, Dec 04, 2014

business mentoring ebookAah, the holiday season. You've survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. But are you still wondering what to give the folks you work with this holiday season? 

This is a great time of year to check out our business mentoring eBooks. With titles ranging from Business Mentoring: A Business Strategy That Works to How to Find a Mentor to Executive Mentoring 101, we have a mentoring eBook for every business professional. Whether your company already has a corporate mentoring program, or if you recognize someone in your office who may be looking for a mentor, check out our options. 

Our eBooks range from $2.99-$9.99 and are available to download immediately onto your smartphone, tablet, ereader or desktop.

Your co-workers will appreciate the thought and effort!

Happy eReading and Happy Holidays!

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Top 5 Mentoring Blog Posts Fall 2014

Posted on Tue, Dec 02, 2014

corporate mentoringAt Management Mentors, we consistently get super positive feedback regarding the great mentoring content we publish. We do our best to make all of the information you will need to make an informed decision about whether a mentoring program is right for your company, how to best utilize your current mentoring program, or how to make improvements to your mentoring program (among other things!). Here are our 5 most popular mentoring blog posts from Fall 2014:

  1. FREE: Our most popular mentoring white paper downloads!
  2. Mentoring requires both partners to know what they are doing!
  3. Mentoring Myth: Mentoring and coaching are essentially the same thing.
  4. How do you make a successful match between a mentor and mentoree
  5. When Mentorship Programs Fail Due to Poor Support



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3 Common Mistakes Made When Matching Mentors and Mentorees

Posted on Fri, Nov 28, 2014

*Parts of this blog post have been previously published in our monthly newsletter titled, Business Mentoring: How We Match Mentors and Mentorees.

In our last blog post, we discussed How to Make a Successful Match Between a Mentor and a Mentoree and we shared some of the ideas behind Management Mentors' algorithm which was born from our 90% success rate in mentor/mentoree matching.

In this post, we are going to tackle three of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to matching mentors and mentorees:

  • mentor match mistakesIt gets too political. Someone on the committee is overly influential and may force matches based on office politics rather than the recommended matches.
  • A committee makes the matches but must send them to upper management for review, at which time upper management makes changes (and not for the better). The problem with this is that upper management was not involved in the committee meetings and discussions, so they might not understand the reasoning behind the matches.
  • People put too much emphasis on percentages. Our matching system provides a "matching percentage" between mentors and mentorees. So Jim Smith might be rated as a 58% match to Kim Jones, based on the matching algorithm. Percentages should be seen as a starting point for discussions, not the be-all end-all.

Do any of these mistakes sound familiar to you? If your company has made these mistakes and now finds itself with an unsuccessful mentoring program, can it be fixed? It sure can. The first step is recognizing where the problems lie. We have plenty of resources that you can share with the executives at your company which will help to find a solution to your broken matching system and/or mentoring program. If you recognize that your company's mentoring program needs help with mentoring matching, check out our FREE resources below.

mentoring matching mentoring best practices mentoring program

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8 Things We Are Grateful For This Thanksgiving at Management Mentors

Posted on Wed, Nov 26, 2014

corporate mentoringIt's Thanksgiving week here in the United States, a time to reflect on all those things we are grateful for. Without getting too mushy, we've put together a list of 8 things we are grateful for at Management Mentors this Thanksgiving:

  1. All the ways mentors and mentorees can stay connected today, even over long distances, thanks to things like smartphones, Skype, and social media
  2. Millennials, because every time a new generation is knocking on the front door, a fresh perspective is ready to enter and shake things up a bit…in a good way
  3. Our fabulous clients who inspire us every day with their commitment to mentoring their people
  4. The mentors we’ve all had over our lives
  5. Great leadership that recognizes people's strengths and helps them grow
  6. Executives that realize mentoring is about professional development for the person as well as the company 
  7. You—our blog readers—for your commitment to business mentoring
  8. ....and of course our FABULOUS marketing department!


What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

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How do you make a successful match between a mentor and mentoree

Posted on Mon, Nov 24, 2014

*Parts of this blog post have been previously published in our monthly newsletter titled, Business Mentoring: How We Match Mentors and Mentorees.

mentor matchWe get lots of questions about matching pairs in mentoring programsWhat's the process like? How long does it take? Is there a secret sauce?

We have been successfully matching pairs in mentoring programs for over 25 years achieving, on average, a 90% success rate. Yes, you read that right.....a 90% success rate!! This history of success led to our developing our precision matching component, Precision Matching. Our tool asks critical questions in five key sections and uses our proprietary algorithm to calculate what would make a good match.

We can't give you all the details about our algorithm (it is proprietary, after all!), but we can share the rationale behind it, the difference between manual and system matching, the matching method we recommend most clients use, and the biggest mistakes that we see people make when it comes to making matches.

The Magic behind Our Matching Algorithm.

Our algorithm draws its information from an online matching form that all potential mentors and mentorees fill out. We developed and fine-tuned this form over many years. It currently includes the following sections:

  1. Focus areas/competencies. Our mentoring system comes with 25 default competencies, such as leadership, communication, technical skills, and so forth. Our clients can add and revise these competencies as they see fit. Competencies are based upon job knowledge and skills. The goal is to pair people who want to mentor—or be mentored in—certain competencies. This then allows the mentoring pair to have a focus as they begin their work together.
  2. Forced choice questions. These questions "force" people to make a choice, often between two desirable things. For example, a person might need to answer "yes" or "no" to the following statement: I'd rather my mentor be more businesslike than social.
  3. Personality test. Here, people rate themselves on a personality continuum.
  4. Ranking of key roles. In this section, mentorees must decide what type of mentor they want based on how they order the following roles: teacher, sponsor, cheerleader, counselor, and friend (meaning if they put "cheerleader" first and "counselor" last, it's more important that the mentor is a cheerleader than a friend). Mentors must decide the type of mentor they want to be and do the same thing, ranking the roles in order of most important to least.
  5. Essay section. This section is the only section that doesn't directly affect the algorithm. Program managers can use the essays as an additional resource as they review and finalize matches.

The Matching Process

We offer two main ways to match mentorees and mentors: manual matching and system matching. For both, we provide the online matching form that all mentorees and mentors fill out.

Characteristics of Manual Matching

  • It's subjective and relies quite a bit on the human touch.
  • Typically, the program manager (PM) will have a committee. The PM and committee members will hash out the matches based on info in the matching forms and through discussion/debate.
  • This is a time consuming process. It could take 3-5 hours to match 20 pairs. If you had 150 pairs, this could take two full days.

Characteristics of System Matching

  • It's objective. The program manager can justify each match since it's based on the algorithm, which weighs criteria from four of the five sections on the matching form.
  • The system does the heavy lifting by suggesting appropriate matches. There's no need to "hash out" the matches, so this method saves A LOT of time.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: There are two options within system matching: Auto Matching and 3-Step Matching

The 411 on Auto Matching

This is the quickest and easiest method, but it's not necessarily as effective as 3-step matching (or even manual).

How it works:

  • The system makes the matches based on the algorithm. The program manager likely accepts 90 percent of the matches the system recommends without reviewing further. The PM might make some edits to the other 10 percent.

The 411 on 3-Step Matching

We recommend this method for most clients because it combines the best of auto matching (the algorithm's speed and objectivity) and manual matching (the human touch).

How it works:

  1. The program manager (PM) chooses a mentoree and has the system suggest mentors. Based on this list, the PM chooses 1-3 "tentative" mentors to consider for this individual mentoree. The PM does this for allmentorees in the program.
  2. The PM then compares the mentoring forms for each mentoree against the 1-3 mentors she tentatively selected for the mentoree. The beauty of our system is that you can look at the forms side by side while online. The PM makes almost-final choices for each mentoree. (Note: Here's where reviewing the essay questions can be helpful.)
  3. The PM makes one final review. Now, the PM can look at the complete, just-about-final list of mentor/mentoree matches and make sure she is happy with the final selections. If yes, she can finalize the matches. Each mentor and mentoree will receive an email announcing the match, and the program will officially kick off.


Successful matches is one of THE key components to a successful mentoring program. 

Stay tuned for our next post, Mistakes Companies Make When it Comes to Matching Mentors and Mentorees.

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Sneak Peak! MentoringComplete: a fresh new look AND new features

Posted on Wed, Nov 12, 2014
Okay, so we are completely aware that all blogging best practices scream "Don't be too promotional! Share relevant industry information, but don't use your blog as a platform to toot your own horn!" 
But, today we are going against best practices (shh! don't tell our awesome marketing team!) because we also know that many of our blog followers also use our super robust mentoring software, MentoringComplete, (and if you are not currently using it, maybe you're thinking about it :-). So we just had to share the exciting news about our fresh new look and the new features we are rolling out.

MentoringComplete is now even more visually appealing and easier to use than ever before!
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Here are just a few of the updates:
We have simplified the user mentoring program manager home page and given it a new look:

Screen Shot 2014 10 01 at 4.50.21 PM resized 600

We simplified the 3-step matching process for Program Managers and added the ability to add a bio of a user (mentor/mentoree) to aid in the matching process. We also simplified the save matches functionality.
mentoring software

We made the editing process for both program managers and participants a little bit more visually appealing. 

mentoring software
Not using an online mentoring software system? Check out this FREE resource and learn about the benefits today.

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