Uh-ho, Your Corporate Mentoring Program Needs More Attention

Courtesy of Pixabay

Co-written by Julie Kantor, CEO Twomentor and Kate Ward, Head of Partnerships InHerSight

Mentorship programs get a lot of buzz as the key to improving gender equality in the workplace. As more and more companies look for ways to increase representation of women at senior levels, mentorship or sponsorship is often cited as a key to helping women reach that next rung on the corporate ladder. And many powerful women, such as Sheryl Sandberg, have cited the importance of mentors to their personal career success.

With approximately 75% of Fortune 500 companies offering formal mentoring programs and 25% of U.S medium and large companies offering programs, corporate America has embraced the idea, but are these programs achieving their potential?

Are people being thrown together without a lot of thought to what the experience should be?

Are companies understanding the true business case for mentoring and what it means to all parties?

Do we recognize the act of mentoring, and the people who mentor as the ones who help drive engagement and retention at our companies?

Are mentors and mentees being trained?

We spent some quality time with the dynamic team at workplace review site, InHerSight. They have collected employer ratings from tens of thousands of women. One of the 14 metrics they get feedback on is women’s satisfaction with her company’s “mentorship and sponsorship programs”. We have written a lot about sponsorship in earlier posts. Turns out, at least among women, corporate mentorship programs could really use some work and investment.

A recent review of their data found that “mentorship and sponsorship programs” is the lowest rated metric of all 14 that they capture with an overall score of 2.2 out of 5 stars.

InHerSight’s research also found that a company’s mentorship program is highly correlated with women’s overall satisfaction and happiness at a company, which means if your female employees are unhappy with your mentorship program, they are more likely to be unsatisfied at work.

And here’s where the data was most interesting, a deeper dive showed that women’s satisfaction with their company’s mentorship program is a stronger predictor of overall satisfaction at a company the later women are in their careers.

Our assessment, women as they grow in their careers truly want to see others self-actualize. They also want to build stronger sponsoring relationships to feel validated, supported and championed in their careers.

Julie Kantor is the CEO of Twomentor, LLC a management consulting firm that is passionate about building mentoring cultures to drive retention. Please reach out for an information interview on your mentoring initiative, we are here to help. Schedule: Sophia@twomentor.com

Does She Need a Role Model, a Mentor, or a Sponsor?

It was about time to get the word ‘women’ into ‘mentor’. So, I did. Just launched my new company twomentor (t-women-tor), LLC to get the words ‘women’ and ‘men’ into STEM mentoring. It will take a unified approach. Today we celebrate twomentor’s one month anniversary with this blog and luckily not Pampers and Medella equipment at this stage of raising her.

So do girls and young women need a role model, a mentor or a sponsor? Likely all three along their professional paths.

If we want to recruit, develop, retain great girls & women in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) workforce we need to look at the whole pipeline and what women most need at different phases.

Reflecting back, I realize I needed three things personally and professionally:

1] A Role Model

2] A Mentor

3] A Sponsor

A role model was needed to show examples of great women: in science, in Senate, as leaders, board members, in tech, as business owners, and perhaps soon as President of the USA. The women in my family also served as key role models of women who found professional fulfillment, have families, and hung out with great loyalty with their girl friends (Mom and Ina just celebrated 55 years ‘together’ as BFFs). My father who came to America as a refugee from Hungary served also as a powerful example of resiliency and perseverance. He also taught me gratitude.

A mentor took on the role in a socratic way of helping me find answers within myself. In middle school a mentor (Karen C.) gave me an internship and taught me that I love small business. She let me work at her store for three years and helped me build some skills such as: inventory management, running the cash register, making marketing signs with Mr. Sketch pens, customer service and more. Mostly, she taught me to love work. I haven’t stopped working since, a dozen jobs and a few degrees later. A college mentor taught me how to get my work published and how to see others in their plights. A peer mentor got me into an interview for my first job at the company she worked at. Another mentor more recently taught me how to use a 3D printer. One of my mentors is a 72 year old dynamo and one is a 19 year old tech whiz.

Mentors came into my life as welcomed guides and were both male and female. One common ingredient was they all reflected that I had to have faith in myself, believing in me often before I believed in myself.

While a Mentor encourages one to climb the work ‘tree’ to new heights, a sponsor  takes on the role of going out on a limb for others. In other words, a mentor speaks to you and a sponsor speaks about you and advocates for you behind closed doors. Mike Caslin was such a sponsor in my life and I wrote about him HERE. Mike mentored me when I ran Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in a few markets and then he championed me to take his national VP job after serving the company 20 extraordinary years. Other people wanted the job and he was the one to say ‘Let’s choose Julie.’ At several conferences recently, women would approach me and ask how to get such a sponsor. From all these discussions & research, I am becoming more convinced that we lose professional women mid-career because they do not have a sponsor.

I reflect back and clearly understand I needed three things from girl to career woman: a Role Model (s), a Mentor (s), a Sponsor (s). I think my start-up needs all three, and gratefully, they are all swirling around twomentor, llc as key advisors.

 

But I need to acknowledge something else here.

I am also now needed more than ever to be a Role Model, a Mentor and/or a Sponsor and I suspect you are too. It’s time to start. Start simple (invite her/him for coffee chat). Start soon. Invest in her. Pay it forward.

Julie Kantor is a global speaker on women in STEM, President & CEO of Twomentor, LLC offering mentor training and strategy to America’s top corporations. She is also Senior Advisor to Million Women Mentors and STEMconnector. 

Mentoring is the Down Payment on Our Future

“Service is the Rent We Pay for Living,” said our high school graduation speaker Marian Wright Edelman in 1987.

I agree. And reflecting add, Mentoring is the Down payment on our Future.

For the busy working woman, service & mentoring can be tough. We are increasing the hours at the office, online at home, squeezing in quality time for our kids, our partners, trying to be decent daughters and daughters in law. We have less time with our girlfriends which we know is a key linkage to our sanity. And its not just working mothers, fathers want more time with their kids too and millenials have worlds of interests outside of the office with a distinct entrepreneurial mindset to their careers.

… But they need us.

We are needed to be mentors and champion others. Especially as we grow in influence and have more sophisticated decision-making networks. A few words of wisdom, a listening ear, some concrete guidance, can make a world of difference to someone in job transition or trying to find their way post-college.

… And we need us.

As we start realizing that the workforce is not the diverse, merit based system we thought it was and that there are political nuances we need to understand. The stats are dismal when it comes to women on boards, in leadership roles, in STEM. We learn we need to lift each other up and consider applying a two-candle perspective (when a candle lights another candle, they can both light others and all shine equally bright. ) We need to not compete for single digit spots, but push to create and open up more seats at the table.

So I have an action item for us all (male and female). Bring on an intern this Summer. Run an ad at your local University, on Craigslist, get your HR office to help. Give her a project where she works with you on something big. Set goals. Invite her to meetings with you. Interview her on her aspirations. Have her meet with two other executives you admire. Have her represent you at an event or listen in to important calls. Teach her to use technology in a work setting, software, have her teach you (reverse mentoring). Be open about your successes and failures.

If you are looking for more diversity in your workplace, consider this part of an on-boarding strategy.

BTW – you can count your intern mentee as part of the Million Women Mentors as can your colleagues who do the same.

Light her candle, let in some additional light and life to your workplace … as she is a daughter, a sister, potentially a future mother, scientist, IT leader and she needs you to help her light up her path.

Is Corporate Mentoring Nice to Have or Have to Have?

Courtesy of Pixabay

In this weeks’ NYTimes, there was a great article “Executive Mentors Wanted: Only Millennials Need Apply,” by Kevin Roose. The topic is seasoned leaders getting mentored by our younger workforce (reverse mentoring). Jack Welch coined the phrase and we are fans of it. We actually highlighted two months ago an interview on a great initiative at Pershing (BNY Mellon Co.) where 96% of Millennial mentors stayed at their jobs four years out. It’s empowering for all parties as we grow and strengthen ties in our multi-generational workforce.

What troubles us is each day we speak to companies who are shying away from mentoring their new hires and building sponsorship initiatives to elevate women and high potential diverse employees. Companies hope mentoring is happening informally, have trouble selling it up, but each time we survey large rooms of executives and grad students, less than 40% report they have a professional mentor. Roose’s article articulated the issue and the need well, that we can no longer shirk our responsibility (and as we like to say in training, the building of our Living Legacies):

“As reverse mentoring programs grow in popularity, some young workers still lack the traditional, top-down mentorship meant to help them rise in their careers. According to a 2016 report by Deloitte, the consulting firm, more than half of young workers said their leadership skills were not being fully developed in the workplace.”… “It really is the opposite of the mentorship offer that firms have historically made to young people,” Mr. Harris said [Malcolm Harris, the author of new book “Kids These Days”]. “Now it’s just, ‘We want you to come work for us, and teach us how to do our jobs.’ ”

I guess the point is reverse mentoring, diverse mentoring, peer mentoring, traditional mentoring… we need to be much more deliberate in engineering the opportunities to drive employee engagement and retention. We’ve decided to extend our 2018 offer to help you get started. We want to see your multi-generational workforce thrive in 2018! We can help you think this through. Let’s talk!

Julie

julie@twomentor.com

You can learn more about Twomentor with our latest Overview Prezi herehttps://prezi.com/p/mtpvhyrq5_op/

Learn more about the issues: Video on Elevating Women and Millennials in the Workforce http://bit.ly/1SZ8wrq

Time to Mentor 2.0 (Mentor+Sponsor)

I was on cloud 91/2 last week at the Diversity Women’s Leadership Conference put on Diversity Woman Magazine at the Grand Floridian (heaven, two thumbs up!). It had heart, some of America’s top Diversity Leaders, 1:1 coaching, and great content. A common theme was how to recruit and retain top STEM talent, especially women and minorities. There was also a new recognition with many leaders that STEM is a new perspective on Diversity and we need more Diversity in STEM.

We will see global diversity in who possesses next generation capabilities (employability skills, digital fluency, and innovation excellence) for tomorrow’s global STEM jobs? This demand side approach (what companies need- the jobs) + new capabilities (employability skills) = STEM 2.0

I have written a lot on this topic HERE, and in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services we put out White Papers: Women in STEM Realizing the Potential.

Mentoring has a key role to play on moving the needle for girls & young women professionally and we need to much more to recruit, onboard and retain diverse STEM talent. Most of the companies at the conference advocated heavily for formal and informal mentoring within their corporations. One challenge in the informal space was an inability to put metrics and outcomes behind it. Remember, you get what you measure. Mentoring increases employee satisfaction and retention. TheBusiness Case for Mentoring by our friends at Chronus shares a lot of good datapoints. For example, note the huge increase in mentor and mentee retention at Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) 2006 case study as well as who got salary increases and promotions

To take a step back…

Mentor 1.0 over the past several decades was:

– How is your home life?
– Let’s discuss thoughts on career life balance
– College and application help
– Let’s work together on your resume
– Let’s go to a movie or shoot some hoops

There is much value in Mentoring 1.0 and the care and support behind it.

The difference is Mentor 2.0 includes a distinct skills-based focus and sponsorship component* ie.:

– Here are the specific skills you will need to make it in the 21st century economy
– Let’s discuss job opportunities in various geographies and what they pay (women in STEM make 92 cents on a dollar for example of what men make vs. other careers that pay 77 cents on a dollar)
– Let’s discuss what type of education and experience you will need to get a good job or advance in your career
– Let’s connect you with opportunity (FIRST robotics competition, Python coding class, Sit down with CEO of a IT firm and create an opportunity to shadow her, Visit a laboratory …)
– Let’s have lunch with the SVP at XYZ company and focus on three things we want to learn about his/her professional path and work.
– Let’s see if we can get you a summer internship ( Did you know according to Gallup only 4.5% of high school students were in Summer internships last year? )
– Have you set up a Linkedin page? Let’s take an online networking class, together
– Let’s discuss two key books for young women over Sushi and blue sparkly pedicures:The Confidence Code and Executive Presence

 

* Put simply, Mentor 2.0 will have a key role in on-boarding and retaining a diverse workforce as we combine skills-based Mentoring and most ideally Sponsorship.

A mentor talks to you, listens and guides you.

A sponsor talks about you. Your sponsor (who respects you highly and knows exactly what your capable of) champions you for opportunity (internships, jobs, promotions, university entrance).

Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s CTI research showed us that men are 46% more likely to have a sponsor. Women in STEM often also share they have male sponsors that truly helped them in their careers and opened doors.

Women will likely feel more comfortable starting as a mentor. Then with a growing good relationship and rapport, move it to a Mentor 2.0 relationship, and then to Sponsorship (or helping find a sponsor through advocacy of your mentee). This Mentor 2.0 strategy will dramatically expedite a diverse STEM workforce with both mentor and mentee high-fiving.

But don’t get all Geico- caddywhompus with concerns. Start with just 2 hours a month, 20 hours a year with your mentee and request your mentee pay-it-forward too.

Julie Kantor is President & CEO of Twomentor, LLC a management consulting firm that builds mentoring cultures & elevates women in STEM. She lives in Bethesda Maryland with her husband, middle school daughter and Havanese puppy, Naomi.

Don’t Have Time to Mentor? You Might Want to Rethink That

Pixabay

“I have talked more people off a ledge from leaving our company,” said Cheryl* CEO to her leadership team. I watched her in awe. She is a true leader who gets the power of people, the power of a pay-it-forward culture. After all, she was part of a strong chain of leaders who championed her and she respectfully claims that honor and wants to see the legacy continue. With the cost of losing an employee at 100–300% salary (SHRM), I cannot help but start putting dollars on a virtual excel spreadsheet for all the casualties that did not happen as a result of her interventions. The value of those authentic talks. The value of taking the time to see and share with the people who work with you, for you, your peeps, your companies future.

Cheryl put a much stronger stake in the ground when she announced that she was connecting bonuses to “how we invest in our people,” with mentoring being one key strategy. She understands that an investment in people = a stronger workplace culture = retention = engagement + productivity = =revenue and ROI= more smiles.

As I took the stage at Cheryl’s conference, Bob’s conference, Darren’s corporate conference and dozens more through my work @Twomentor I always ask the question “How many of you have a mentor and/or someone you go to for professional advice?” The answer, please take this in, is under 40% even in the highest levels of our rockstar companies. I ask what the impact has been of having a mentor (or sponsor)? I “wouldn’t be where I am today”, “my mentor challenged me,” “he believed in me, changed my life” “kicked my a — and showed me where I needed to grow,” and so much more.

My next question is “How many of you currently mentor other people?” Always under 20% stand up. WHAT@!#! Most companies err in believing mentoring should just happen holistically. I believe more and more we need to engineer it in a dynamic fun way with creative flexibility. I believe people are afraid to look weak in asking for help or intrusive in offering help. But the helping of each other is the bridge where the magic occurs.

We also are confronting a loneliness epidemic in our country and it’s hitting our youngest the hardest. It’s not just “lonely at the top” anymore. In fact, recent overall studies that show that 54% of American’s feeling lonely and isolated.

Darren* stood up at the conference after a flash mentoring session. He had a management problem that was nagging him for weeks related to his new promotion. “I was concerned about it every waking moment,” he shared. He found his answer and began action planning following a speed mentoring conversation with a seasoned leader. “When he was talking, chills just went over my body,” said Darren at the conference. “I knew he was right and I had gone to my manager and others, but he was the one who made me see a solution I hadn’t seen.”

Mentoring. Is it nice to have or have to have? I have the time or I don’t have time is the question you will have to answer for yourself and your company. … and having a leader like Cheryl at the top quadruples the chance of systemic success.

For your own time, if you go with “Yes” I would carve out 10–20 hours a year to mentor others or ask for help, get started. Schedule that walk and talk or that drive to Peet’s Coffee.

“Mentoring is a muscle you flex, it grows stronger the more you use it,” says Cheryl. Time to hit the gym.

Julie Kantor and her team at Twomentor are here to help you build or boost a sustainable mentoring initiative to retain your best talent. She can be reached at julie@twomentor.com

Going Through Big Corporate Changes? Time to Start Mentoring Initiative at Your Company

What happens when the leaders leave (or are replaced)? When the revenues are not resembling hockey stick performance? When a big company gobbles up a smaller company? When there is an 8% layoff of the workforce? People start feeling like their jobs might be on the line. They feel a new leader might not understand their contributions. They might feel someone is trying to steal their lunch. Culture changes. Isolation increases along with Indeed.com searches. Linkedin resumes get brushed up. Mistrust or toxicity coupled with insomnia can seep in. 

I’ve heard it many times in my five years of building mentoring initiatives. “Julie, with all the change, shouldn’t we wait until after things calm down to get started with our mentoring initiative?” a top HR executive asked me.

In running both mentor and mentee training, often the rising-star mentee is looking for someone who can help them navigate the new environment. Someone who will sit down with an iced coffee (or Ben & Jerry’s pint) for a chat, a safe haven to reflect on, ‘How do I best position myself in the midst of change?’ ‘How do I get off to the right start with my new boss?’ ‘How can I be part of the solution, when I am worried about how things are going financially?’

The mentor, often with more experience, might not have all the answers, but likely has experienced more change in their tenure and will have new perspectives to offer up.

The mentor serves as a role model. They care about their mentees goals and objectives and can be instrumental in talking someone ‘off a ledge’ who is nervous. Encourager and challenger, the mentor often will help the mentee understand their role in better ‘owning’ their career trajectory and not being the victim in a who-moved-my-cheese environment that we are seeing more and more.  Change = Today’s Reality.

I was watching Good Morning America a month ago and the words ‘America’s Loneliness Epidemic’ crawled across the bottom of the screen. Curious, I Googled the UCLA research and it was eye-opening. Almost 1:2 Americans (20,000 in the study) stated that they sometimes or always feel alone, lonely or left out. Particularly hard hit are our youngest generations. How does that manifest in a workplace which is often a key pillar in our lives and psychological/financial stability? Read more HERE on the study’s findings.

In building a pilot-to-sustainable and scalable mentoring initiative, we create an opportunity for our workforce to not isolate. A world where people are recognized for helping-each-other. We engineer and hold the space for people to connect with morale-boosting support from the top. Employees have the learning conversations with structure in place.

When I ask hundreds of mentors in trainings what do people most come to them for advice on, the response is usually:

1] To help them advance their career,

2] To learn how to network better,

3] To be better at people management, leadership and

4] To help them prioritize

With the fast-paced corporate growth and more predictable flux ahead, do you want to wait for another season or reason to show your people you are a stand for them as they take a stand for each other?

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC a high impact company that provides mentor strategy, training and execution for large companies and organizations. She can be reached at julie@twomentor.com