Want to See Women Thrive in the Global Workforce? Sponsor Them.

Written by Mackenzie Moore

Most of us have seen the stats out there about women in the workplace: women comprise 50% of the workforce but are underrepresented in top management and STEM fields. Historically, it was considered a pipeline issue: since women entered the workforce after men, they just needed more time to be recruited, educated, trained, and propelled to the top. In the late 1980s, the term ‘the glass ceiling’ was coined by Marilyn Loden. The glass ceiling describes how women are present in the workforce but are disproportionately represented in senior positions. Mentorship has long been recognized as one effective way of advancing women and minorities professionally. New research, just published in January of 2019 by the Center for Talent Innovation, shows that another form of support is also effective in recruiting and retaining a more diverse, hardworking and productive workforce. It is called sponsorship.

I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school when I was sponsored for the first time. I was four months into a six-month-long internship and was itching to move to the next level. I loved the work I was doing and felt challenged, motivated, and proud of myself. I was anxious that my internship was ending in two months and I wasn’t ready to leave work. But I was young, and the other full-time associates had all graduated from university already. I did not feel equipped and worried my request to be hired as an associate would be met with a hard “no”. One day, I worked up the courage to talk to Julie about it. She responded with warmth, positivity, and enthusiasm. Julie expressed wanting to work with me more and clearly outlined what I needed to improve in order to earn my position as an associate. Then, three months later, she walked into the CEOs office and told the CEO that she should hire me to be her associate of business development. I spent the next eight months working closely with Julie and even received another promotion to the managerial level. Julie believed in me, mentoring me on business, executive presence, sales, and so much more. She went beyond mentorship though and championed me for a job I likely could not have gotten without her recommendation. This is the value of sponsorship: it is the boost that the less obvious, but still very capable employees need to get themselves to the next levels in their careers. 

A sponsor is someone who champions their protégé for a job, promotion, stretch assignment, or other professional opportunities. It is not to be confused with mentorship, as mentors focus more on guiding, teaching, or preparing their proteges. The Harvard Business Review defines mentoring as “offering ‘psychosocial’ support for personal and professional development, plus career help that includes advice and coaching.” In comparison, sponsors advocate for their protégé’s advancement and take an active role in their career progression. The HBR notes that while the majority of people find mentorship to be more enjoyable than sponsorship, sponsors are critical for increasing diversity in the upper ranks of businesses. We need both mentors and sponsors: the mentors help us excel in our jobs and give us the knowledge and support to be ready for the next promotion, while the sponsors help us get the promotion and move to the next level in our careers.

Across the board, research has shown that sponsorship is a game changer for recruiting and retaining more women and people of color in the workforce. The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) published The Sponsor Dividend (again…just last January!) and found that employees in large companies who have been sponsored are happier with their rates of advancement than non-sponsored employees—across both gender and race. For example, 68% of women with sponsors are pleased with their rate of advancement as opposed to 57% of women without sponsors, and 56% for sponsored people of color are happy as opposed to 34% without sponsors.

Not only are women with sponsors being championed behind closed doors more, but they also push themselves forward more than women without sponsors. Women who have sponsors are 27% more likely than those without sponsors to ask for a raise, and 22% more likely to ask for ‘stretch assignments’. The same study also found that 85% of mothers who are employed full-time continue working, whereas only 58% of mothers without a sponsor will continue to work (a 27% differential!).

By the way, sponsorship is not only good for the protégé; it is also good for the company as sponsored employees become more well-rounded individuals and are more prepared to be leaders. The same research by the CTI found that employees who are sponsored are more aware of their junior colleagues’ concerns, a trait which is important for high-performing managers. 41% of employees who have been sponsored will pick up a task they do not enjoy doing, as opposed to 26% of employees without sponsors. Furthermore, 43% of sponsored employees have expanded knowledge of their customer bases, as opposed to only 26% of non-sponsored employees.

This is the good news: sponsorship works! So, what is the bad news? Women and minorities are not sponsored enough. The CTI also found that 71% of sponsors are the same gender or race as their primary proteges. Given the lack of diversity in the upper levels of corporations and STEM fields, women and people of color are missing out on sponsorship opportunities.

Research from Catalyst (published in a report by Bentley University) found similar results, noting “Men’s ‘mentors’ are actually more senior, more influential, and have access to a wider network than women’s mentors. In other words, men’s ‘mentors’often really sponsor and that is the critical difference. When women have sponsors, women are just as likely as men to be promoted.”

Another report by Lean In and McKinsey found that in entry-level positions, women and men have relatively similar levels of interaction with senior leaders, but by the time employees reach the senior management level, men have significantly more interaction with senior leaders on a weekly basis than women (62% of men interact with senior leaders at least one time per week as opposed to 51% of women).

The finding that women have less access to mentorship and sponsorship from senior leaders is echoed across studies. Herminia Ibarra, Nancy Cater and Christine Silva published in the Harvard Business Review that women and men have access to very different kinds of mentorship. Men were mentored by a CEO or senior executive 9% more often than women were, and women were more frequently mentored by nonmanagers or first-level managers.

Moving forward, women need more access and connection with senior executives. The progress will come from both sides: it will come from senior executives reaching out to mid-level women and minorities, getting to know them, and championing them into higher positions. It will also come from women reaching out, embracing sponsorship and actively seeking out sponsoring relationships.

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Mackenzie Moore is a Senior Associate at Twomentor LLC. In 2018 we build a Mentor 2.0 Training (Mentorship + Sponsorship) for leaders to sponsor and mentor more diversely. Contact: info@twomentor.com or 1800 5 MENTOR

Why Mentors Hate Workplace Gossip

Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles. 
Korean Proverb
We’ve all been there at work. A perceived injustice, a mean look, a discourteous or catty remark. The confusion, then the anger sets in. The poison as The Four Agreement’s author Don Miguel Ruiz discusses so eloquently in his toltec wisdom guide has now been drunk… by you. Given to you potentially by an unwitting accomplice who started the day off wr . Hurt, you find someone to share your pain with. Someone who can validate your view…  

I’ve been there many times in my life. In fact, the other day I slammed on my brakes when a woman in a convertible sky blue Mercedes whisked passed me in the parking lot and I almost hit her. Her eyes met my eyes with a dark glare. We both were driving too fast, but once the red and orange rage left my eyes and I parked, I realized it was 100% my fault as I was not fully present. “Own it, Julie,” I said to myself. Take responsibility, apologize if you can, do not create a validating story of victimhood. Do not ruin this glorious day.

“Can you believe Scott got a 20% raise,” Lenny* said to his co-worker Tomas* He lost the XYZ company account and was golfing all summer. Lenny looks at Tom with concern. “You’ve been here three years longer and didn’t lose one of our biggest clients,” adds Lenny. “You should be pissed!”

Tomas agreed. He knew that Scott had actually saved two contracts, was golfing with customers, and had far exceeded anyone else in customer service evaluations. He knew that Scott was coming in early and staying in late, but he couldn’t help feeling a bit steamed every time Scott spoke at the 2:30 Business Development meeting. He also didn’t like how Scott spoke to his direct report. Tom reflected on his 5% raise, about the bills piling up at home and had a fleeting thought, should he apply for a new job? 

Tomas had accepted a shot of poison and observed Lenny sharing Scott’s news with four other people the next day at lunch.

Gossip is the antithesis of Mentoring…  Think about it, a mentor is invested in the self-actualization of another human being. A mentor gets stronger and better from lifting others up. Mentoring brings down silos, it decreases isolation, it saves lives when we have stronger connections with others (a hallmark of any 12-Step program- called a sponsor). It is paramount to wellbeing. Malicious gossip is a teardown play.

Scotts, Lennys, Tomas, Shanas, and Marias. They are in all of us. We perpetuate a LOSE/LOSE proposition that sucks the joy out of life because the more poison one drinks when addressing a resentment, the more that’s handed out in the form of gossip. We are all are worse for it (an exception being when we need to share information that has crossed a clear ethical line with HR or the individual is of danger to themselves and others), 

“I pray that she gets everything she wants or dreams of,” a friend shared in context to how she manages a resentment. “I no longer let her live rent-free in my head,” she added.

As Kennedy said in his 1963 speech “A rising tide lifts all ships,” We rise when we help others. Protect yourself and by all means, don’t drink what’s in that shot glass even if someone you know well hands it to you.

Here are 35 valuable quotes on gossip to reflect on its role in your life.

Twomentor LLC – We Build Corporate Mentoring Initiatives
Contact Us at 1-833-5 MENTOR or info@twomentor.com

High Turnover Costs Way More Than You Think

Written with A. Crosser

I remember almost leaving my company in 2006. I was lying in bed, dejected and upset. My corporate mentor called me and talked me off the ledge. He told me I was highly valued at a time I was feeling undervalued. Over the course of our deep conversation, I realized that I had likely misinterpreted a situation and I needed to get out of bed, stand back up and not be corporate roadkill…

It’s well-known that employee turnover rates come as a high cost to companies, however very few discuss the true extended costs and the multiple ways that it impacts the business. It’s important that successful business not only find the best employees, but keep them engaged as well. In one of my most recent articles, we discussed losing a Millennial employee can costs the company $15,000 to $25,000, but it’s actually a lot more when you weigh in a few additional variables.

First, let’s take a look at the hard costs of high turnover. What is a company going to spend in order to compensate for low retention rates? According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. Doing the math, that means that for an employee salaried at $60,000 will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement. Other research show that the average costs could be even higher. In a study conducted by the Center for America Progress, the cost of losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213% of the salary for a highly trained position! So if a high trained executive is making $120,000 a year, the true loss could be up to $255,600 to the company!

Perhaps getting rid of Thursday Happy Hour, flex-time, or reducing paid maternity leave was not such a good idea after all.

The question then becomes, why does losing an employee cost so much, and in what other ways do high turnover rates impact a company? From there we look to what can be done to keep strong employees engaged and happy at the company. Not just surviving but thriving at work.

  1. The Cost of Training and On-Boarding

Training an employee is not free, and is often relatively expensive. Training seminars and classes can cost a business thousands of dollars, and they can also result in the understaffing of other departments, as training sessions will often need to be led and monitored by other employees of the company. This can result in lowered productivity, and as Zane Benefits, points out the overworking of other employees making up for those who need to conduct training.

  1. Interview Expenses

Conducting interviews is a long and tedious process. Many expensive mistakes can be made here in picking the wrong candidate. In order to lower turnover rates, it’s important for businesses to ensure that they are hiring the best candidates for the job, individuals who will be more likely to stay and grow with the company for an extended period. The interview process can include travel expenses if candidates from out-of-town are being considered, which add up quickly. Outside of monetary expenses, the interview process takes immense amounts of time, with company leaders needing to take hours out of their day to conduct the meetings. Much like training, time spent on interviews costs the business by way of lost productivity.

  1. Advertising Costs

Posting ads promoting the vacant positon can cost a company a significant amount of money, with most job boards charging a hefty fee to employers looking to advertise. These costs add up over time, meaning that the company could be looking at serious expenses to advertise new positions. Hiring a good external recruiter is a great way to decrease time on task, but the recruiter will often charge 25-33% of one year salary for senior positions.

  1. Lowered Engagement

I can’t tell you how many calls I receive from people distraught when they see good people and friends leaving their companies. High turnover rates will most definitely be noticed by staff who remain employed by a business, and this can often result in lost engagement on part of these employees. They will often feel that the ship is taking too much water if too many people leave, overworked, and thus less satisfied and less motivated at work.

  1. Productivity of New Hires

When a company is faced with the need to hire new employees, they also face a severe decrease in productivity. As discussed before, remaining employees may lose focus due to high turnover, however the productivity of the new hires is also an issue. According to business expert Josh Bersin, of Bersin by Deloitte, a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. Lately, I have been thinking of the workplace like a blended family. Having new stepbrothers and sisters, uncles and cousins come into the ‘work’ family can be a lot of fun, but also can be riddled with new and unexpected challenges, turf wars, feelings of displacement and hurt feelings if not integrated and on-boarded right.

  1. Impact on Morale & The Gossip Machine

When other employees leave, the remaining staff will wonder why and the gossip machine commences. If an employee leaves for a higher salary, other employees may interview for other higher-paying positions elsewhere. According to Forbes, employees expecting a raise can expect to see an average of 3 percent, however being recruited for or finding a new position often results in a 10-20 percent raise, meaning that the company has to further compensate for lost staff members. Additionally, if employees left unhappily based on workplace culture issues, they will often communicate with their friends sharing a brighter life/ opportunities available on the other side. I don’t want to diminish in any way the psychological impact that an employee goes through in transition regardless of who’s decision it was to part ways. Transitions are tough but sometimes employees know they can’t get to second base with their foot still on first/

  1. Less Effective Service

When hiring for a customer service position specifically, new hires generally do not know the answers to typical questions they will face on the job. For example, if a company needs to hire several new employees to fill IT Help Desk positions, they will take longer to resolve common issues, and it could potentially result in the loss of customers, should they be unhappy with the changes.

So what is a company to do? After all transitions are a given in any company.

Perhaps we can learn something from youth in the New York City schools.

Professor Jonah Rockoff researcher out of Columbia University illustrates that mentoring not only reduces employee turnover, but also improves the skills of new employees, increasing the amount of productivity that you will see in the newly on-boarded staff members. After studying the habits of students in New York City schools and how they perform with and without mentors, Rockoff found that students who received mentoring had the best performances out of all of the students observed, and that they had a lesser chance of dropping out than students who were not mentored. These observations can be applied to business as well, with the concepts of mentoring remaining the same. Rockoff states that when an employee receives specialized attention and training from a mentor, they will perform better on the job, and will be much more likely to stay in the workplace. These concepts have been proven in corporate giants like Google, who have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the world, and also implement one of the most effective mentoring programs.

There are many costs associated with high turnover, but there are a multitude of ways to reduce it. Mentoring is one of the most effective, cost efficient ways of increasing employee tenure benefitting the mentor, the mentee and driving significant retention.

So when my mentor called me that day from his business trip in Hong Kong, we had a deep and honest discussion. I deleted the resignation letter I had been drafting, dusted myself off, worked through the issue and continued loving my two decade career for many more years.

Julie Kantor is Founder & CEO of Twomentor, LLC a management consulting firm focused on building mentoring cultures and retaining a diverse STEM workforce.

Have You Tried Flash (Speed) Mentoring Yet?


When I started Twomentor a year and several months ago, my intention was (and is) to go in and help companies build mentoring cultures for so many reasons. I had already spoken with 500- 600 companies and institutions that were struggling with hiring and retaining diverse talent, especially in the Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) arena. Not one company would disagree that culture and employee engagement needed focus + leaders understood that the economics of loss are troubling, especially when you factor in that it can cost @ one year salary to replace an executive, over 200% for a key Sales executive, and that Millennials — well, 21% left their jobs last year costing companies billions.

Did you know- Over 75% of Millennials view being mentored as crucial to their professional success? Did you know most women leave their jobs because they do not have a Sponsor (advocate, inner champion).

So I landed at a Leadership Conference in Chennai, India last February at an NGO Leadership Conference through the Center for Social Leadership & Sevalaya, and decided to take concepts such as reverse mentoring, peer mentoring, diverse mentoring, and integrate them into what has now become The Twomentor – Mentor Road Trip™ Experience. I didn’t realize at the time, how powerful this would be for participants and the places it would take me personally as a new CEO.

So what does it look like? Well, let’s hit the gas…

Mile Seven: So you are driving in your car with your awesome new mentor. (or mentee)… clear blue skies ahead… Starbucks double espresso warms your hand (or perhaps you prefer Dunkin Donuts). You have an updated Spotify playlist for background music, a GPS and a full tank of gas. Then … Uh-ho! Flat tire.

Twomentor: “Flat tires happen in our professional lives. Sometimes, it is our batteries that need to be recharged. I now want you to share a professional challenge big or small that you are having right now with your mentor. Take 10 minutes on this leg of our journey together…”

At Leadership Greater Washington, at the World Bank Group, at Women in Technology and a huge packed ballroom in Vegas for InfoComm International and Watermark Executive Women’s Conference in San Jose, we have run these customized experiences. The proverbial conference spotlight moves from the stage to shine a light within the audience. We transform and we become each other’s mentors, consultants, we light up realizing others in this multi-cultural, multi-generational environment have insights, perspective and solutions. No longer are we passively staring at the stage, we are now engaged, playing our part and creating meaningful interactions. We find commonalities and wish we could continue the conversation for another 30 minutes… but… the bell rings… we now need to switch partners.

Mile Eleven: “For this next segment, friends we want you to find someone in the room that DOES NOT remind you of yourself. Does not look like you (diverse mentoring). Please share with your mentee what drives your passion to do the work you do in tech, engineering, sales… each day.” Let’s Go.

They are listening to each other, heads nodding up and down, understanding, animated. Amazing that no one really knew each other twelve minutes ago. At the Gannett Building in McClean, VA I walk around observing over 60 women through Women of Technology and Women of AT&T  going the extra mile for each other. Sparkling, smiling, intent at our post-dinner evening session. I see mentors wear the hat for the first time in years of the mentee. Asking for help from others. So many women I met shared after these sessions that they are always helping and mentoring others, but they were burning out because they were no longer asking others for help… It was a revelation. Senior male and female leaders always want to discuss Sponsorship offline.

“As an over 40 career professional, I was mentored by a Millennial in Twomentor’s workshop. While it was great to learn about my mentor’s passion and hear her advice, what was even more important than the learning was the feeling we experienced. This pairing put me in a position of vulnerability and my mentor in a place of courage. And coming away from this, I realized these emotional states were exactly what each of us needed to grow who we are as career professionals. I needed a beginner’s mind, and she needed a stronger voice. Brilliant!”- Sarita Vasa, Participant

“Shake your partners hand, thank them for the great mentoring and we are ready for the next leg of the journey. Mile Seventeen: We live in a Global economy where new skills are required… Lifelong learning is required. Please share a technology… “

Attendees moved on and then moved on again to Mile 84. The business cards were exchanged, the new connections made, dozens of follow-up coffee dates planned and then we pulled into our rest stop to refuel and say our goodbyes for now… continuing our learning for the day.

Reflecting in the rear-view mirror, Flash mentoring is an effective jump-start to the culture of mentoring at organizations. It does not replace a strong, metrics-based high performing mentoring initiative, it simply revs the engine and can ignite the value-proposition + clarity for groups to get started. A lot of companies are trying a low-touch solution for a high-touch problem. Well, that’s where we come in. Flash mentoring is dynamic, it’s inclusive, and it’s fun whether 40 people are in the room or 1400.

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Julie Kantor is the Founder & CEO of Twomentor LLC and passionate about elevating women in STEM and driving mentoring cultures. You can reach her directly at info@twomentor.com Learn about Twomentor including webinars, peer to peer world cafe learning and much more.

 

10 Professional Discussions Millennials Should Have With Their Mentors

Co-written with A. Crosser

What is the culture of your organization?

What’s more important to you corporate values, mission or vision?

If you could start your company all over again, what would you have done differently?

Were three of the thoughtfully selected questions asked by a bright young woman named Tong from The Washington Center internship program today as she ponders her career path.

The Millennial generation (born 1980 – 2000) is coming of age, and many of today’s young adults are finding themselves in their first real positions as professionals or on the cusp of starting families. As they graduate college and find jobs in their field, many younger Millennials are looking to their mentors to help guide them through this turning point in their professional lives and help them navigate the somewhat turbulent seas of the workplace.

Millennials face many struggles which are unique to their generation. They have different ambitions, and treat their professional lives differently than those who came before them. They also have Glassdoor.com, Linkedin and many tools that we didn’t have on our quest to rise through the ranks.

PURPOSE OVER PAYCHECK: According to a Deloitte study, 64 percent of Millennials say their personal values have the greatest impact on their decision-making process, and 56 percent of Millennials globally have decided against ever working for a company based on their values and standard of conduct. A second Deloitte study shows that a whopping 87 percent of Millennials believe a company’s success should be determined by more than their financial performance – namely, they believe employee satisfaction should be taken into consideration. This is a major shift in perspective, as many older professionals haven’t placed as much of a premium on where they work or at times the ethics of their company – many only see their job as a way to put food on the table for their family.

What do these statistics mean for newer members of our workforce? Simply put, they indicate lack of guidance in for today’s upcoming professionals, as they live (and drive) a new reality which older generations might not relate to in the same way. They may look at their father who worked in an unethical factory for 20 years of his life, and find no support when they say they don’t want to work there out from a moral standpoint. They might feel some skepticism toward the Baby Boomer professor who has publicly apologized in classrooms for their generation leaving the future with trillions in debt. Millennial women globally face a particularly difficult personal battle, as their mothers and other women in their family may encourage them to marry and have a family instead of pursuing a career. In 1970, only 11 percent of women with college degrees were employed by the labor force — a number which has risen to over 30 percent (in the United States) Women (with and without college degrees today make up almost 50% of the overall workforce in the US.

These statistics indicate a particular need for Millennials — the need for guidance and mentorship. We’re taking a look at the first 10 or 20 professional discussions millennials should have with their mentors in order to get the most out of their mentoring ‘sessions’. By having the discussions listed below, the next generation of young professionals can set themselves on course for great success in their fields. The answers to the questions below will help guide them in the right direction, helping them achieve their professional goals and make a difference in the world. Additionally, we encourage mentors to come up with sets of questions as well. We can all learn from each other and clear the cobwebs that often block us from seeing.

  1. “What do you wish you knew at my stage?”

As we grow and develop new knowledge, we begin to find answers to questions we had during our youth. Had we known these answers earlier in our careers, we may have made smarter or more informed decisions than those we ended up making. One of the best ways to share our accumulated knowledge is with young professionals entering our field, as we can guide them as we wish someone had guided us. If you’re a professional Millennial looking for guidance, ask your mentor what they wish they knew at your age or what they wished a mentor had told them – chances are, you’ll find very useful information that could change the course of your career.

  1. “What were your failures, and how did you learn from them?”

In the same boat as the discussion above, discussing past failure is an excellent way to learn what to avoid, and which paths to take. Part of making mistakes is learning lessons, and lessons should be passed on to others to help them avoid the same mistakes. As was said by Henry Ford ‘Failure is the chance to begin again more intelligently.’ and ‘Failure is neither fatal nor final.’ Here you could have a great conversation on resiliency.

  1. “What would you do differently, if you could start over?”

As successful as your mentor may be, there are probably some scenarios they would do differently if they could go back in time. Ask them about situations which they believe they could have handled more efficiently, or decisions they wish they had or hadn’t made. These answers can help you avoid setbacks to your success, and make wiser decisions in the long-run.

  1. “What do you struggle with?”

Everyone struggles with something, no matter who they are, their age or where they came from. After years of practice, your mentor still struggles with some aspect of their career. Take many professional women in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, for example. While more than half of all University students in the Middle East and North African region are women, they make up only 21 percent of the workforce – largely due to societal demands. Many professional women struggle with raising a family and working in a career (particularly in STEM fields), despite how successful they may appear to others. These women could use their struggles to guide other young women enduring much of the same, to show them that societal demands can be overcome.

  1. “What would you do in my shoes?”

When you’re faced with difficult decisions, the best question you can ask is “what would you do if you were me?” It can be difficult to objectively analyze your situation and come up with the right “next move,” and asking someone who’s faced similar decisions what they would do in your shoes can help you understand what you might consider doing next. Another way to ask this question is “Have you been in a similar situation and how did you handle it?’ We have so much to learn from each other’s stories.

  1. “Describe your most rewarding accomplishment.”

Success has different meanings to different people. In our youth, success looks like fancy cars, Instagram worthy lifestyle and red carpets, but as we age it often takes on a new look. By asking mentors what they believe is their most rewarding accomplishment, you can get an idea of what they value as a result of their experience. You can get a picture of what your long-time goals might evolve into – in fact, your mentor’s answers will more than likely surprise, as they don’t often answer this question with the answers we think we’ll hear.

  1. “What am I doing wrong?”

Everyone wants to be right, but in reality we’re all wrong more often than we’d like to believe. Many times, fixing one or two small aspects of our perspectives, actions, and motives can mean a world of difference for our future. However, it’s challenging to evaluate ourselves as we have a natural tendency to believe we’re always right. Your mentor’s experience will allow them to objectively look at you and tell you what you can do better – for many, this invaluable advice can mean the difference between success and failure. Another way to rephrase this question is to explain a challenging situation and ask “What am I not seeing here about my role?” Reshma Saujani really pushes in her outstanding TED Talk that we encourage girls to be brave not perfect.

  1. “How can I become more productive at work?”

Even the most intelligent of people can fall victim to laziness or burnout. Some of the greatest ideas of all time may have been lost as the result of low-productivity, but even with this knowledge many of us struggle to discipline ourselves and make our dreams a reality. Your mentor has likely struggled with many of the same issues, so ask them to weigh in. It’s like being on a road trip and realizing you are out of gas or are dealing with a flat tire. Most professionals have their own set of productivity tips, so see what kind of advice your mentor has to offer to recharge your batteries. Also, please share with your old-timer (just kidding) some of the technology tools and more that make you more productive. We are big fans of reverse mentoring @Twomentor.

  1. “When you were my age, what were your goals? How have they changed?”

Over time, our goals change. We begin to prioritize certain aspects of our life over others, as we trade all night parties for families and fast food for gluten-free. What once seemed valuable and important can become meaningless overnight, but the striking change can cause fear and anxiety for many as it occurs. Many times, we’re afraid to let ourselves change for the better, as we fear that we may be leaving an important part of ourselves behind. By better understanding how your mentor’s goals have changed, you might become more comfortable as you face similar changes in your own life.

  1. “What traits do I need to succeed in this field?”

Every field has secrets to success – many of which you’ll never learn in a classroom. Medical professionals must be patient and empathetic, while engineers must have laser-sharp focus and an uncanny attention to detail. Artists and entrepreneurs must be both fearless and creative, while athletes must have perseverance. Your mentor can tell you exactly which traits create leaders in your field, and how you can develop them with ‘eye of the tiger’ conviction.

Next week we will share Part Two. 10 More Professional Discussions to Have with Your Mentor… Please follow this blog to alert you when it is posted.

Julie Silard Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC a social impact company dedicated to helping companies retain Millennials and elevate women in STEM fields through mentor training and strategy. She will be chairing the Global Women in STEM Conference in Dubai October 25-26th through the Meera Kaul Foundation and recently presented a speech to 350 Millennials from 85 countries at the United Nations through World Merit360.

NEW DATA: Your Corporate Mentoring Program Will Need More Attention

Co-written with 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.

They Got Fired! Would Mentoring Have Saved Them?

Written by Julie Kantor and Delia Borbone

Today our team sat in the ‘war room’ of Twomentor’s global headquarters (that means, a single office in Bethesda with three summer associates, a consultant and a very fatigued White Havanese pup named Naomi). One of our team members brought to our attention a Inc. magazine article by Alison Green of an unusual and saddening summer internship circumstance. A group of interns did not understand the strict dress code of the company they were working for and decided to submit a proposal asking for minor modifications in the dress code. The company responded by holding a meeting, where all the interns who signed the proposal were terminated.

We scoured through the comments and there were interesting debates on corporate culture, etiquette, and who was the party to blame. But we realized that bottom line, our Millennial and Generation Z workforce are coming to us to learn and be mentored so we want to equip you with 8 recommendations on being an effective mentor:

1] Listen- To be a successful mentor, you must be an attentive listener. This shows that you are genuinely interested in what is going on in your mentee’s life. Listen closely to gain a better understanding of where he/she is coming from, and to help you advise them appropriately. Find out what your mentee knows and what her/his blindspots might be as a newcomer in the working world.

2] Balanced- A mentee comes to you to share news, to ask for advice and opinions, and sometimes to let out their frustrations. Your job is not to agree with everything your mentee says, but to help him/her think rationally about situations and approach them from a level headed perspective. Perhaps an internal mentor would have advised the interns not to develop a signed petition with a greater enlightenment of the corporate culture (we write as we stand here in flip flops and jeans- just kidding!)

3] Trust- Your mentee is going to come to you with all sorts of things, some of which may be personal or things they don’t want shared with others. He/she is telling you this because they trust you and value your advice. This is a great honor. It is imperative to keep conversations confidential and not break your mentee’s trust, unless it is a violation of HR policies or could cause real harm to the individual/company.

4] Be Open and Try Not to Judge- Mentoring requires a willingness to share about your own experiences that relate to your mentee’s queries, and be able to give thoughtful advice. Better yet, if you can lead your mentee to finding his/her own conclusions through your stories. The more open and authentic you are, the more open to sharing your mentee will be as well. You also must be open-minded. Unexpected conversations and situations are very likely, however you are here to help and advise, not judge.

5] Availability- Mentoring is a time commitment, and regular meetings are crucial in developing a good relationship. No matter how much you like your mentee, if you don’t have the time for them it is best to let them know and help them find a different mentor who can devote more time. We move into an era of skills-based mentoring as older generations are learning to pass the baton and embrace reverse mentoring in the workplace.

6] Model- You are being watched. “Just while observing you, mentees pick up many things: ethics, values and standards; style, beliefs and attitudes; methods and procedures. They are likely to follow your lead, adapt your approach to their own style, and build confidence through their affiliation with you. As a mentor, you need to be keenly aware of your own behavior.” (E. Wayne Hart, Forbes.com)

7] Honesty- “If you’re brave enough to ask your mentor for advice, he or she needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer. If you’re contemplating taking a new job, for instance, and you explain the situation and ask for your mentor’s point of view – he or she should give it to you, unvarnished.” (Erika Andersen, Forbes.com)

8] Goal Oriented- “A good mentor continually sets a good example by showing how his/her personal habits are reflected by personal and professional goals and overall personal success.” (Franchise Growth Partners)

Both the interns and the managers of the company might have approached this situation differently, and ideally with a mentoring lens. Anyone who brings on an intern is onboarding our future workforce and taking the extra steps is often the difference between success and failure (see articles ‘Ready to Go the Extra Mile for Your Interns and ‘Interning With Your Best Foot Forward’). Despite the unfortunate outcome for the interns and company, we know this is a learning opportunity for all involved and all readers. We sincerely hope that they will land well next summer if not sooner with a new viable opportunity.

Twomentor, LLC, is a management consulting firm that provides mentor training, strategy, flash mentoring sessions and global speaking to elevate women and better retain Millennials in the workforce. We believe in mentoring cultures.

Gamechanger! The Value Of Co-Sponsoring Relationships For Women In The Workforce

Jayla, age 15, needs role models to show her viable career options and visions of what she can become. She would like to job shadow a successful woman who came to speak at her school to learn how she started her own technology firm.

Margaret, age 20, needs both role models and mentors to really talk things through, set some plans in motion, and help her understand her own leadership capabilities and where she needs to grow.

Margaret has engaged in her third internship as she understands it is one of the best ways to actively learn, network, and crucial to her workforce prospects. Interning, whether you are in school or a graduate, is a time that Millennials and GenZ heavily rely on mentors and colleagues to teach them the ropes, nuances, politics, and the hard skills.

As Shana, 36, rises through the ranks of corporate America, she might not have the nomenclature but she starts understanding that she needs something else… sponsorship. She needs internal champions to make it as a Partner or to the higher floors. She might see others who started with her going up the escalators at faster rates, and become disillusioned that her superior work doesn’t just speak for itself.

She might quit or go to a new firm that she feels will value her more.

Since starting my own company that focuses on mentorship and sponsorship to elevate women in the workforce (especially in STEM fields), I have learned some valuable lessons and garnered some new insights to share with you.

I have learned that:

– Millennials want to be mentored, and they value it. In fact, Millennials view it as so crucial to their professional success, they will leave a company with a bigger name to find a company that will invest in their learning and development. I often tell my clients ‘Mentor them or lose them.’

– Millennials also want their managers to be mentoring managers. They are looking for transformational managers, not transactional managers.

– Men are naturals when it comes to Sponsorship (to clarify, a mentor speaks to you and advises you, a sponsor is someone who speaks about you behind closed doors. A sponsor will often champion you for promotions, stretch assignments, and might offer air coverage when the going gets tough). When we discuss this topic, so many high-powered women shared with me that they were championed by a male leader.

– Today, women have networks and power. I’d argue that we are incredibly well poised for game-changing breakthroughs in the sponsorship arena, once we better understand it all. In fact, according to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, men are 46% more likely to have a high-powered sponsor. In her research, 83% of women do not have sponsors. I read a piece in Harvard Business Review questioning if we are mentoring women but sponsoring men more in the workforce. While discussing this phenomenon, one tech leader said to me, ‘Silicon Valley is built on sponsorship.’ … Fascinating perspective, and if you think about it, the entire “old boys network” is actually built on sponsorship. But ladies, it’s our defining moment to join the party and make things happen for ourselves and others.

As an entrepreneur who is especially passionate about female entrepreneurship, I want to see you succeed at new heights and consider taking the elevator if the escalator has been a total drag. I want to encourage here a ‘’stretch assignment’’ for you and your close networks to try on for size: Co-sponsorship. I have found that men have been willing to sponsor us (women entrepreneurs) at higher rates, but that Co-Sponsoring with other high potential women is a great way to go. In my experience, it has been so mutually valued and has yielded all kinds of incredible opportunities including client relationships, new jobs and more.

To get started, you do need to be fairly confident with your own network. You need to have clear goals personally or professionally that you feel others can help you with.

So skip the escalator, hit the Penthouse floor button and embark on a three month ‘Co-Sponsoring’ Experiment Plan…

WEEK ONE (The Ground Floor): I want you to find 2-3 other women (you can pick a man to!) who are networked and who you really respect. People you already know pretty well. Pick people you feel will make a good impression on others as they have made on you. Perhaps they are doing work or started a company that you really feel has high potential. Perhaps they are a past colleague or you currently serve on a board together. Schedulecalls with them or plan a lunch meeting.

THE FIRST MEETING: Listen for what your colleague needs, where they are at in this stage of their professional lives, and assess if you can truly help them somehow. Could you be a champion for Tanya who wants to speak at the major women’s conference you spoke at last year, or Cynthia who just left her COO job at a major bank and needs access to recruiters and CHRO’s of major companies? Could you advocate for Lynette who is starting a cause to teach tech skills to middle schoolers in your city? While they are talking, jot down 2-4 action items you could take on their behalf and envision introductions you could make or opportunities you could create. You have so much more to offer than you realize, just listen and you will begin to connect the dots.

Next, I want you to SHARE what you are building professionally, what you are most passionate about. Discuss what your needs are, types of companies or people you aspire to work with or be connected with. If necessary, you can add that you are part of this Co-Sponsor experiment and are looking to build a few relationships where “we help each other formally to make things happen!”

Leave the meeting with a gameplan on what you each are comfortable doing. There is nothing wrong with starting with small steps. Keep things low-pressure and have fun with it. Schedule an appointment to follow up and discuss the next leg of the Co-Sponsorship journey within the next 3-4 weeks. So many meetings lose their potential due to lack of follow-up or follow-through.

THE SECOND MEETING (You are Riding Up): Are there any early fruits from your labors? Did you make introductions? If not, do it together while you are on the phone. Remember, you are also accountability partners as you climb together. If you followed up on your meeting one commitments which I hope you did, how did it go? Track carefully what you each agreed to do and where things stand. Feel free to start a shared Google Doc. Often, I will ask my Co-Sponsor(s) to send me some solid wording for how they want to be introduced, and then write to people within my network asking if they are open to an introduction. Most have been! Several times, my Co-Sponsor reached out and didn’t hear back, so I wrote a nice note to nudge the other party that they did agree/wanted to connect as well as if there was anything that I can do to assist.

People really do value being connected to other great people. It’s been actually quite heartwarming and fun to be the connector. The middlewoman. At this stage, you might want to map out a few more action plans and understand any new needs your Co-Sponsor might have. One amazing woman leader I met on Linkedin is speaking at a major conference in Silicon Valley this Spring. After we spoke she contacted the conference organizers and created an opening for me to speak as well… Many entrepreneurs also offer each other financial incentives if business comes in from each others connection. I do, and that creates another level of WIN/WIN in these crucial championing relationships.

THE THIRD & FOURTH MEETINGS : Are you both rising and stronger because you came together? Why not meet somewhere where you can introduce your Co-Sponsor to people or invite her to join a key conference call. Get her a seat at a table that she will benefit from. Bring her to an open board meeting. Introduce her to other key leaders you socialize with. Goodwill begets goodwill. If the relationship is feeling lopsided, think about how you might remedy this and continue tracking and following up. So many people don’t read emails, follow-up in a timely manner or check their Linkedin— Not a problem, just circle back politely. With one of my Co-Sponsors, I received a wonderful client contract immediately from a connection he made but it took three more months until one of my connections became lucrative for him. I sent him 10% of the contract I received to say thanks, something he never asked for, but is part of our business model @Twomentor. Send a plant, a Starbucks card, plan a spa day, show gratitude and continue to keep the ball rolling toward mutual gain. Keep advancing each other, and keep building Co-Sponsorship relationships that focus on abundance, not scarcity. Enjoy your new views and vistas.

I will write more about this topic, but I want to hear from YOU if you want to join in on this learning journey. Keep us posted on your progress and keep moving mountains for great and emerging leaders. Good luck!

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor LLC. She works with major corporations and organizations to build mentoring cultures that retain a diverse skilled workforce. She can be reached through info@twomentor.com

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

“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 is 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 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 help of each other is the bridge where 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.”

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 will 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.

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 

Workplace Chaos? Good Time to Build Your Mentoring Efforts

Workplace Chaos? Good Time to Build Your Mentoring Efforts

by Julie Silard Kantor

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.comsearches. Linkedin resumes get brushed up. Mistrust or toxicity seeps in. 

I’ve heard it many times in my five years building mentoring initiatives. “Julie, with all the change, shouldn’t we wait until after XYZ to get started?” 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 vape) 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 might have experienced more change in their tenure and likely 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.

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 s 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 not ‘to complain,’ it’s 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, do you want to wait for another season or reason to show your people you take a stand for them as they are a stand for each other?

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC a high impact company that provides mentor strategy, execution, mentor and mentee trainings, flash mentoring, business case keynotes and more.

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Scheduling Contact, Sophia@twomentor.com