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Mentoring requires both partners to know what they are doing!

  
  
  

mentoring relationshipEach week, I get inquiries from a prospective client to enhance their mentoring program. When I ask if they train people on how to engage in mentoring, the answer is often "Yes."  Without asking about the quality of that training, I ask if they train mentorees as well as mentors and the answer is often "No." This is one of the most serious mistakes made in a mentoring program. This means that one-half of the partnership doesn't know what they are doing within that relationship!

If we remember that mentoring is about establishing a specific type of relationship, it doesn't make any sense to train one person about how it works and leave the other half out. Mentoring involves a mutual partnership and one can't be a complete partner if he/she doesn’t have the same understanding as his/her mentor or mentoree.

I think a number of people don't train mentorees because they confuse informal mentoring with formal mentoring. Formal mentoring has structure and has a specific purpose which necessitates explaining how this type of relationship works. To not do so at all or to only train one half of the partnership significantly reduces the effectiveness of any mentoring program.

Another reason I often hear that companies train only mentors is the cost involved. That is a legitimate concern when you consider bringing all parties together in a classroom setting where travel expenses are involved. However in today's technological age, there is mentoring e-learning.  This is very cost effective and within the budgets of most organizations.

So if you want to get the most out of your mentoring program, be sure to train both your mentors and mentorees in understanding how to effectively engage in a formal mentoring relationship!

If interested in learning more about our mentoring e-learning course, click the button below:

corporate mentoring training

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FREE: Our most popular mentoring white paper downloads!

  
  
  

free mentoring resourcesThere's nothing better for the marketing team at Management Mentors than to have our boss say that he is told time and time again that our website is just chock full of super useful information. I mean, truly, it never gets old! Rock star writing and fabulous graphic designs help to put Rene's unrivaled mentoring knowledge into easily digestible, FREE RESOURCES FOR YOU!

Besides the writing, the snazzy designs and the hours spent on social media (we get paid for this?!), another part of our job as marketers is analytics (yuck...math....we know!). We use a fabulous marketing software tool called HubSpot for our analytics (shameless plug :-). This week, while analyzing our summer downloads, I was shocked at the number of downloads for specific mentoring white papers we have received. So I thought, "hmmm, I should write a post about our most frequently downloaded free white papers." 

So without further adieu, here are Management Mentors' most frequently downloaded mentoring white papers (you can also get them by clicking the fun buttons below...and see our marketing degrees at work!):

Do you have a favorite Management Mentors' resource? We not only enjoy sharing Rene's knowledge, but we also enjoy reaching out to you on social media, via our blog and our monthly newsletter....We'd love to hear from you!

P.S. The excited people in the photo are not us. We are way too busy working on our next white paper to get together and pose for a photo! 

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Mentoring myth: The best type of mentoring program is long and formal

  
  
  

mentoring programThis is our fifth in a series of posts on mentoring myths. And we think this one may blow your mind!

Mentoring myth: The best type of mentoring program is a formal, managed program that lasts 9-12 months.

BUSTED: Ha! Bet you're confused about this one, considering Management Mentors advocates formal, managed programs. Here's the thing: in a perfect world, all organizations would offer formal business mentoring to its employees and members. These managed programs would last the recommended 9-12 months. But we don't live in a perfect world, do we?

We understand that, for a variety of reasons, not all organizations can support formal, managed programs. And sometimes, depending on the nature of the people who make up the organization, a formal, managed program might not be the "best" solution.

Mentoring isn't one-size-fits-all, which is why there are so many variations to the managed model. Think reverse mentoring, speed mentoring, group mentoring, self-directed mentoring…the list goes on. Download our free white paper on all the different mentoring models to learn more.

In our minds, the most important thing you can do is offer some form of mentoring and create a culture that fosters personal and professional transformation. Because that's what mentoring is all about.

If you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

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Mentoring Myth: Mentoring and coaching are essentially the same thing.

  
  
  

mentoring vs coachingThere are some mentoring myths we encounter day in and day out as we guide our clients on their mentoring journey. This is the fourth in a series of posts on mentoring myths. Watch as we bust this myth wide open as we have done with the first three!

Mentoring Myth: Mentoring and coaching are essentially the same thing

BUSTED:  It's the myth that just won't die. While we can understand why people still think mentoring and coaching are similar, it's important for everyone to accept the fact they are two different things. Each one is worthy of consideration in the workplace, but mentoring and coaching are still different nonetheless.

Let's talk about two key differentiators.

Differentiator #1: 

Coaching is task oriented. The focus is on concrete issues, such as managing more effectively, speaking more articulately, or learning how to think strategically. This requires a content expert (coach) who is capable of teaching the coachee how to develop these skills. 

Mentoring is relationship oriented. It seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentoree shares whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies may be used as a basis for creating the relationship, the relationship's focus goes beyond these areas to include things such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional. 

Differentiator #2:

Coaching is short term. A coach can successfully be involved with a coachee for a short period, maybe even just a few sessions. The coaching lasts for as long as it's needed, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship. 

Mentoring is always long term. Mentoring, to be successful, requires time in which both partners can learn about one another and build a climate of trust that creates an environment in which the mentoree can feel secure in sharing the real issues that impact his or her success. Successful mentoring relationships *typically* last nine months to a year, but you'll see why we put asterisks around the word "typically" when you get to the last myth below.

For even further reading on this mentoring myth, we've compiled 23 additional differentiators in our free white paper: Coaching vs. Mentoring, which you can download right now.

Also, if you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

 

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Mentoring Myth: Chemistry required for a successful formal mentoring relationship

  
  
  

mentoring chemistryThere are some mentoring myths we encounter day in and day out as we guide our clients on their mentoring journey. This is the third in a series of posts on mentoring myths. Watch as we bust these myths wide open! 

Mentoring myth: In order for a formal mentoring relationship to be successful, mentors and mentorees need to have chemistry.

BUSTED: We hear this one a lot. At first blush, it seems like a correct statement, doesn't it? Mentors and mentorees need chemistry in order to work together effectively, don't they?

Nope.

To understand why this is, let's first define chemistry. Chemistry is an intense, very personal feeling—an initial connection or attraction between two individuals that may develop into a strong, emotional bond. Unstructured and unpredictable, it is the basis for an informal mentoring relationship, but it's not necessary for a formal mentoring relationship where people typically work together for 9-12 months.

Now, let's talk about a "c" word that does matter: compatibility. Compatibility occurs when individuals work together in harmony to achieve a common purpose. With formal mentoring relationships, compatibility is a must-have because the mentor and mentoree need to work together towards goals they set at the beginning of the relationship.

So, while chemistry is nice to have, it's far from a deal breaker.

Do you have any mentoring myths you have always wondered about? Ask us in the comments section below!

If you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

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Mentoring Myth: Buddy systems and mentoring programs are the same thing.

  
  
  

mentoring programThere are some mentoring myths we encounter day in and day out as we guide our clients on their mentoring journey. This is the second in a series of posts on mentoring myths. Watch as we bust these myths wide open! 

Mentoring Myth: Buddy systems and mentoring programs are the same thing.

BUSTED: Organizations typically use buddy systems to help new employees adjust to their jobs during the first few months of employment. Buddies are most often peers in the same department. They assist new employees for short periods. Buddies don’t require any specialized training.

Mentoring is a more complex relationship and focuses on both short- and long-term professional development goals. Though a mentor may be an employee’s peer, most often a mentor is a person who is at least one level higher in the organization and who is not within the mentoree’s direct supervisory line of management.

We recommend training for mentors, mentorees, and mentoring program managers.

If you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

corporate mentoring myths

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Mentoring Myth: Mentoring can be used as a performance management system

  
  
  

mentoring mythsThere are some mentoring myths we encounter day in and day out as we guide our clients on their mentoring journey. This is the first in a series of posts on mentoring myths. Watch as we bust this myth wide open! 

Mentoring Myth: Mentoring can be used as a performance management system

BUSTED: In the world of talent management, people often misuse words like mentoring and performance management. After all, both involve professional development and share common goals. What’s different is how each one goes about achieving these goals.

Performance management is a system for measuring whether an employee is “performing” adequately on the job. Managers use this information to assist the employee in becoming a better performer.

The goal of performance management is to develop an employee in his/her current position. While performance management sometimes involves planning for future performance, most often it centers on the employee’s current job performance.

Mentoring, on the other hand, promotes professional development by linking an employee with a mentor who will focus on the overall development of that employee. Mentoring is transformational and involves much more than simply acquiring a specific skill or knowledge. Mentoring is about a relationship and involves both the professional and the personal. In many ways, mentoring is like counseling. Mentoring will certainly help with the mentoree’s current job, but it also poises the mentoree to take the next steps in his or her career.

Should Mentoring and Performance Management Be Linked?

You should absolutely link mentoring programs to performance management—meaning, you should link those competencies deemed important by an organization as employees develop for future roles. There is a difference, however, between linking mentoring to performance management and turning mentoring into a performance management system. Let’s use an example for clarification.

If I want to develop one of my employees into a true leader, then I’ll probably use various approaches: seminars, training, coaching, etc. I’ll want to measure progress in these areas and determine if the development is successful. This requires me, as a manager, to be “hands on” with the development of this employee into an effective leader.

Now, let’s say I think it would be great for my employee to have a mentor who is experienced in leadership. I bring in this mentor, we have discussions, and the person mentors my employee. I get periodic reports from the mentor, and we discuss the results. This process has turned the mentor into a “second manager” as opposed to letting him or her simply support the employee’s development. In essence, it has created a relationship that focuses on results and measurement as opposed to one of development and transformation. There’s nothing wrong with this approach per se, but it isn’t mentoring, and it shouldn’t be called mentoring. It’s more akin to coaching.

On the other hand, let’s say I’ve identified my employee as a talented person with leadership abilities. I could recommend that he or she participate in our company’s mentoring program to develop more leadership skills as well as other necessary career-building skills. Since I’m focusing on this person’s long-term development—development that could move this person out of my department or even out of my company—I should not be directly involved with my employee’s mentor.

Yes, it may be useful for my employee to receive feedback from me regarding what to focus on with the mentor, but this is by way of suggestion as opposed to requirement. And, yes, I should be informed of meeting schedules to ensure they don’t disrupt my department, but in a mentoring program, my role is to support my employee’s meeting time with the mentor, offer suggestions to my employee on areas of development, and STAND BACK and let the relationship happen.

 

If you want to get this myth plus five more in one handy package that you can easily access and share with others, then download our complete white paper: 6 Mentoring Myths Busted.

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Do you need mentoring or do you need coaching?

  
  
  

At Management Mentors, we talk A LOT about the differences between coaching and mentoring. So many companies come to us asking us for a coaching program, when what they really need is a mentoring program (or vice versa). We've written blog posts, white papers and even recorded podcasts on the subject.

Every month, our Mentoring vs. Coaching white paper is not only our number one downloaded white paper, but very often it is our most visited page on our website. 

So how does this pertain to you? We are guessing that if you read our blog, you want to develop your employees to help them to reach their full potential. So do know whether you need to offer coaching or mentoring? 

We've written yet another article on the popular topic for the Association for Talent Development: Do Your Employees Need Coaching or Mentoring? 

 

Check it out and be sure to let us know what you think. And of course, if you are interested in our white paper, you can get that by clicking the link below:

coaching vs mentoring

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MENTOREE SAYS: "I'd like to work on people taking me more seriously"

  
  
  

business mentorLast week, a mentor called me and asked for my advice on how to help a mentoree explore the goal of having people take him more seriously. This goal appears vague and somewhat hard to address. During the course of the call, we shared a few thoughts and ideas and I would like to share those with you in the event you are faced with similar areas of professional development.

I should state upfront that I believe any statement like "I'd like to work on people taking me more seriously" can be achieved by exploring it more deeply before embarking on a plan to flush out in what areas is the mentoree not being taken seriously.

Mentoree should cite a specific incident

1.  I first suggested that at the next mentoring session, the mentor ask the mentoree to cite a specific instance where they felt not taken seriously. This will involve a conversation or presentation with someone or in a group. I would ask the mentoree to state what she/he said and what the response was during the entire conversation. As a mentor, I would try to identify key themes or key words used and whether there is a pattern. Key themes might be to observe the mentoree's voice, body language, how forceful the mentoree is in the presentation, does the mentoree give up easily when pushed back, etc.  Key words might be:  the pronouns “me” or “I” used too frequently, words that might turn off others:  we must do this, we should do this, etc.  Is what the mentoree advocating too thin a suggestion?  This information gives a mentor data in which to be able to provide feedback and suggestions on what the mentoree could have done differently to get a different result.  It would be instructive to go over several conversations the mentoree has had to see if there is a pattern to why she/he feels not taken seriously.

Role-Playing and mentoring

2.  The second option—which can be done separately or added to the point above—is to role-play the scenario with the mentoree to get a good sense of the emotional component of the dialogue. For example, if I did the technique in #1, I might then add,  "Now let's role play this same scenario where I will play the other person and see what happens."  In role-playing you are trying to replicate not only the conversation but also the emotions attached to that conversation; therefore, it is important for both partners to engage so that they really feel in that scenario. At the end, you should have the mentoree discuss how they felt in engaging in this dialogue, what they think they said/did that was helpful and what they think they said/did that was not.  The mentor should then provide the same feedback on what it felt like to be the other person in this scenario.

If you don't do # 1 above, you can simply use the same technique by asking the mentoree that you would like to role play a given presentation that s/he is about to conduct or use a scenario from the past and follow option #2.

A note on role playing:  I know that most of us feel somewhat uncomfortable in role playing but it is a very powerful technique that can generate very useful information and bring about change. Don't be afraid to try it. You need not be perfect at it—just make the effort and see what happens. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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How to get mentorees to open up during a mentoring session

  
  
  

business mentoring relationshipIn speaking with several mentors recently, they expressed concern about wanting their mentoree to be more open on a given issue but afraid to push too hard and turn the mentoree off to the idea.

This is not an uncommon concern in understanding that it's the mentoree that drives the relationship and not the mentor. However, this does not mean a mentor should be hesitant or afraid to approach an issue that they perceive as critical to a mentoree's success. In fact, it is an obligation of a mentor to engage in these types of dialogues so that the mentoree receives honest and helpful feedback.

My advice to every mentor engaged in a mentoring relationship is to broach a touchy subject by inviting the mentoree to engage. Here are a couple of different approaches I would recommend: 

The "open door" approach

"I would like to open a door on an issue we haven't discussed before or not very much.  Would you be willing to open that door with me?" Most people will say yes, even if it's a tentative yes. You could make this specific by stating the issue. You could also ease their concerns by adding "I'd like to explore with you and if you prefer not to go there after that, then that's ok by me.” 

Seeking "permission" approach

"I have some perceptions on x issue that I would like to share with you and explore, but I am seeking your permission to see if you're ready or willing to hear my perceptions. If not, that's ok, we can move on to another topic." If they answer yes, then you can discuss. If the answer is no, then you can reply: "I respect your decision but could you share with me why you would prefer not to discuss this issue so I have a better understanding of your decision." 

 

Each of the above techniques allow for a mentor to explore sensitive issues with the permission of the mentoree. As in everything else in mentoring, you cannot and should not force any mentoree to discuss issues they are not ready to discuss—but that doesn't mean you should not encourage and support them in trying to do so. It is the difficult discussions that deepen the relationship and have the power to transform a mentoree.

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