Men Mentoring Women- 10 Healthy Boundaries in the Age of #MeToo

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Oh, No. Not Matt Lauer! Did Russell Simmons just step down#MeToo continues and seems like a slow-motion movie that plays on and on. There is a toxic vibe in the air in Hollywood, Wall Street, on Capitol Hill, weary HR executives abound. According to an ABC News- Washington Post poll, over 33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed and 14 million abused in work-related incidents.

In the past year, I have had several companies ask if I could do a special session for high-level male employees and managers on mentoring women.

As I reflect, I have been very fortunate in my life to have phenomenal mentors and sponsors, both male and female. One male leader gave me two life-changing ‘breaks’ including his own job when he left the company. He still mentors me decades later. I have always felt a debt to him to pay- it- forward and help others, especially those getting their corporate sea-legs.

Traveling around the country, most leaders I meet (male and female) agree that they are where they are today, because someone else mentored them, saw something in them, believed in them. These are life-changing, game-changing relationships! In facilitating mentor training sessions I’ve had the opportunity to speak with executive women in almost every industry. Most share with me that men, in particular, mentored them. Men were often in higher positions of power, generous with their time, willing to make introductions.

“I would now tell men to just not do it [mentor women],” said Darren* a male entrepreneur I had coffee with yesterday as we discussed this article. “It’s too dangerous now with all the toxicity out there. You have to be ultra careful and conscientious with what you are saying.”

Will men pull back on mentoring and championing because they are afraid of being inappropriate? Fear the perception of having an affair? Decide only to mentor [or gulp- hire] other men? That would be a massive setback.

Additionally, in the workforce, we are moving to a new era of mentoring managers. The vast majority of Millennials want their managers to serve more as mentors and coaches as a management style. Mentoring is no longer a nice to have or a have to have, mentoring just IS. It is part of the new contract between progressive employees and employers.

Dr. John Soncini, Ph.D. spoke with us about how important ‘Mirroring’ is in mentoring. “We women need mirroring from male sources,” says Soncini. “Mirroring means to see yourself reflected in the eyes of the mentor (or…mother, father, husband, boyfriend, friend) as valuable: including your intelligence, capability, professionalism, attractiveness, etc.,” adds Soncini. “Women, especially need this mirroring from their fathers, so, as an extension, from male mentors too! Clearly, when the boundaries are SAFE, male mentors have a particularly strong and positive impact on the person mentored!”

As I read today about Matt Lauer’s apology as the latest #MeToo-Man-of-the-Hour, I decided that it was time to write this piece on healthy mentoring boundaries and say to men that we absolutely need you as mentors and champions.

Here are 8 recommendations:

1] JUST SAY NO– If you have a history of being accused of sexual harassment, sexual violence, you probably should find other ways to add value to the world. Don’t mentor one on one if you or your HR team feel concerned. If you are in a leadership role or management role, consider mentoring through public meetings with your team or small groups of diverse people. If you are feeling a strong physical attraction, help her find another mentor.

2] SAY YES TO MEETING IN PUBLIC– Yeah, hotel rooms are a no-go for any and all mentoring. Meet your mentee at Starbucks, in a conference room at work, have a great lunch at the new restaurant that opened up. Keep the relationship professional.

3] APPEARANCE & ASPIRATIONS– As a general rule of thumb, keep the focus on your mentee’s goals and aspirations. It’s ideal to have the mentee share 2-3 goals that are the focus of the mentoring relationship. I would keep comments about your mentee/mentor’s appearance to a minimum. “You look very professional today.” or “that’s a nice outfit.” Positively ‘mirroring’ your mentees accomplishments, efforts and sharing empathy in times of challenge are most welcomed.

4] ASK IF YOU ARE UNSURE– Ask your colleagues to help you understand what is okay or not okay. Ask for mentoring feedback. A lot has changed over the past several decades and you need to be up to speed. Something that was a compliment years ago like “spin around, let me see your new dress,” might be a threat today. Please watch this amazing video Deloitte UK put out on diversity. Best I’ve seen. STUNNING and eye-opening.

5] IT’S GREAT TO TALK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY– My mentors have been family men, and I am a family woman. They invite me to dinners or events with their kids, parents sometimes and visa-versa. They ask about my husband Marc and how my daughter is doing every time we connect. It builds lifelong friendships, trust. On the flip side, I had a potential major client behave very inappropriately after a colleague and I met with him. I used the “happily married” response following a barrage of texts that he sent following the meeting. With over 60% women being single, I realized one should not have to use the “I have a boyfriend” response. In discussions with 8 women friends, many single, we decided a clearly stated “I do not mix business with pleasure,” was a simple option to shut down these types of advances right away.

6] KEEP IT ABOUT PROFESSIONAL GROWTH– In a professional mentoring situation, I would suggest 80%-10%-10%.

  • 80% of the conversations on things that will help your mentee professionally, please share from your own experiences and learning.
  • 10% on life, the weather, family, skydiving last weekend or what you did over vacation
  • 10% on other topics that you feel qualified to assist each other with or other shared interests

I would encourage you not to delve too much into your mentees personal life too much unless he/she brings it up. Ask any HR professional and they will likely have additional guidance especially for management situations.

7] AFTER 8 IS TOO JUST LATE- Alcohol and mentoring are just not a great combination. “Lead me not to temptation…” Dinners, bars 1:1 are not ideal. I know I wouldn’t want my husband’s colleagues seeing me out for dinners with a male mentor(s)/ mentees, so I opt for lunch, coffee or a group event if I am at a conference.

8] THAT’S SOMEONE’S KID OR WIFE– Remember your mentee is someone else’s daughter (or son), mother or wife. It is such a huge honor to be able to mentor someone else’s family member in the world of work and more. How would you want a mentor to treat your own daughter or son? I often think of mentees as a little brother or sister, a niece, someone you care for and want to see grow. She does need and value your advice. It’s an incredible gift with a lifelong impact. It’s a sacred trust.

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Julie Silard Kantor helps leaders build their living legacies through mentorship and sponsorship. She and her team at Twomentor, LLC are helping to build a much-needed mentoring revolution through thought living-legacy leadership work, mentor training, mentor culture building, Mentor Road Trip™ flash mentoring web sessions and more in many sectors. Two adages that drive us are:1] The people who mentor at your company are the people who drive retention at your company and 2] If you want more diversity (i.e. women in STEM), mentor and sponsor more diversely

8 Recommendations on Being an Effective Mentor

“I’ve been mentoring for years but have never been formally trained,” shared a prominent CEO with me a few weeks ago. We scheduled three hours together and really focused on what does it take to be an effective mentor. Here are 8 of our recommendations at our company Twomentor. I’m sure you can add a few more to the comment section below.

As I cross the globe discussing the business case for mentoring, I have noticed that under 50% of professionals have a mentor… There is an opportunity to give and receive help that should not be underestimated especially if you want to increase employee retention and advance your career trajectory.

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.

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.

5 1/2] Many college students I speak with also share, they value mentors who are networked who might open some doors down the line.

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- Be you. Do you. We live in an era where people would rather work for authentic leaders over ‘brands.’ “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)

Personalized Mentoring is the Best Teacher Succession Plan

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Today we caught up with Heather Lageman, Executive Director of Leadership Development at Baltimore County Public Schools on mentoring and our multi-generational teaching workforce… We were so taken by her thought process and observations, we wanted to share them with you!

Twomentor: How is technology impacting the Mentoring of millennial teachers? What are you seeing?

Heather: It is difficult to make sweeping generalizations about any generation (for example, I just heard the other day that a study showed that Gen Xers are more addicted to social media and are on Instagram and Twitter more than Millennials). However, it is very clear in what I am seeing that social media and technology need to be a complement to the mentoring experience, rather than the substance. Colleagues who teach online have bemoaned the lack of engagement and connection, and veteran teachers speak nostalgically about the time when a faculty was truly a family. I believe we need to be very intentional about how to use technology to provide a way to sustain face-to-face connection over time, and enhance long-distance and just-in-time connectivity, while emphasizing the humanity and personal interaction needed to build deep and meaningful relationships of mutual support and learning.

As we focus on building learner-centered environments for our students, we must also create learner-centered coaching experiences for our adults. Choice matters, and learners of all ages engage most deeply in activities that they select to meet their own individualized needs. In this time of creativity and customization, shouldn’t we all be able to create our own personalized learning experiences, especially in the mode of coaching?

In a recent blog I wrote for Learning Forward, I spotlighted the work of a district in New Jersey using Google Hangout to building a professional learning community for busy principals and leaders – but the key is that they also incorporated a balance of face-to-face and individual coaching sessions. It is all about balance, all about choice, and all about the learner.

Twomentor: We talked about Millennials preferring to connect through technology versus connecting face-to-face for Mentoring with others. Heather can you speak more to this? What do Millennials benefit from the most in a Mentoring relationship?

Heather: Just as we can’t fire our way to Finland to increase student achievement, we can’t Google our way to teacher retention, support and effectiveness. Humanity is critical and nothing can replace developing relationships, listening, and sharing experience. Many millennials have been raised in a technology-based relationship model. They have friendships based on people “met” in chat rooms, playing online video games, and on social media. We are faced with the challenge of supporting a workforce with a variety of experiences and needs. Those educators who have not engaged in deep, sustained human connection might not yet know the power of a mentoring relationship. A balanced mentoring relationship can bring them the support and camaraderie that comes with collaborative learning with colleagues of all ages.

The mentoring relationship can be mutually beneficial as both people inspire, learn, and grow together. Warren Berger, the author of A More Beautiful Question, talks about how when the world gets more complicated and complex, we need to question more because we have to be learning and changing. He asserts that we need questioning more than ever, and we are less comfortable with it. The mentoring relationship is the perfect place to build our capacity and grow as questioners….and as listeners.

Balancing the positive elements of a technological connection – the flexibility and just-in-time learning and support intrinsic in Google Hangouts, Voxer, and #edchat, with the personal connection of face-to-face reflection and conversation, make for an accessible and personalized support system designed to meet the needs of the whole person. Then everyone is afforded the powerful opportunity to feel the energy that comes together when people start talking.

Twomentor: Is there tension in education between the generations? What interventions have you found to be effective?

Heather: Once we recognize that we all have value and worth, and we all want to be truly seen and heard, then on a human level it becomes clear that we all have much more in common than we realize. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou is “Do your eyes light up when your child walks into the room?” I believe this applies to everyone we encounter as people and as educators. It gets at the human connection we all crave, regardless of our generational ties.

If the culture created in a school is truly a collaborative culture and all members of the staff and community are valued, then perceived differences are embraced in positive, non-threatening way. If we are all thinking the same way, then no one is innovating, creating and exploring new ideas. It is refreshing to see a shift happening from a more traditional, hierarchical mindset where veterans received ideal schedules, duties, and rooms in the building while new teachers received the challenging schedules, students, and often had to “float” without a classroom of their own, to one where we recognize and build off of the strengths that each person, veteran or new, brings to the table. Much like the military sends highly trained individuals like Navy Seals to handle the most complex and difficult missions, in education we should do the same and incentivize sending our highly effective teachers to help our neediest children learn and grow.

As an active member of Learning Forward (learningforward.org), I am thrilled to see a concerted effort to increase collaboration across the school, especially in the form of designated time for professional learning communities (PLCs), intentional scheduling to allow colleagues to plan together, and tools that allow teachers to build a true sense that we all are needed and bring our own gifts to our work.

Celebrating each of our unique gifts and recognizing the humanity of our colleagues and our students is the most effective way to create a safe place to risk, grow and honor mutual learning. It lays a foundation of trust that is essential for truly rich mentoring. While technology can be a wonderful complement to the relationship building process in this busy world, so much of trust and vulnerability is communicated nonverbally, and so face-to-face interaction is critical to establish the trust, true connection and understanding that enable people to fully engage online.

Twomentor: How can mentoring change an organization?

Heather: I believe that mentoring is the key to transforming lives. In my work with leaders at all levels, our theme has been “We all need a coach.” Both personally and professionally, we all deserve to have an experienced, trusted advisor and confidant. Someone who can support our growth and learning. Someone who can be our cheerleader and our advocate, as well as our honest critic and facilitator of self-reflection.

My life has been changed by every person who has taken the time to coach me through different portions of the journey of my life with kindness and compassion, while helping me be my best self. The mentors in my life have provided me with a safe place to learn to fly or to just free-fall, as one of my favorite bands Florida Georgia Line would say. This is why I believe we must all “lean in” and bring others along the learning journey with us. Personalized mentoring is the best succession plan we can offer.

#Millennialteachers #twomentor #BaltimoreCounty

Heather Lageman serves as the Executive Director of Leadership Development for Baltimore County Schools in the Office of Organizational Development. In addition, she is Program Manager of The Council of Educational Administrative and Supervisory Organizations of Maryland (CEASOM) Code.org Regional Partner Program and was facilitator of the Networks and the Internet Writing Team for the K-12 Computer Science Framework. Heather is a member of the National Task Force on Assessment Education and serves on the Board of the Maryland Assessment Group. She is also President of the Learning Forward Maryland Affiliate and Chair-Elect of the Learning Forward Foundation, and Vice-President of Maryland Affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC. Twomentor helps companies build mentoring & sponsorship cultures with a passion for elevating women and millennials in the multi-generational workforce.

6 Tips for Mentoring Millennials from Millennials

by Bridget McKeogh, Twomentor

We spoke to a dozen working millennials and asked them what they look for in a mentor. Here are the top six tips on mentoring from Millennials themselves! 

Give Practical Feedback and Actionable Steps
Millennials are programmed for trial and error. They have grown up adapting to new technologies and learning new skills from watching YouTube videos. They want something to try NOW. Erik Borresen, a teacher at the Carmen Schools of Science and Technology, 27, explains that “Hands on experience is the best way that I learn.” Millennials want the band-aid ripped off. If there is something they can be doing better, tell them. Jenna Gebel, a second year MBA candidate at Wharton, wants “Candid, practical advice.” Give them an avenue to fix the problem. Michelle Sheahan, Associate Director and Budget Manager at Georgetown University says that the key is to “Provide constructive feedback. Be willing to openly discuss ways in which your mentee can improve” Alisha Glennon, 31, Vice President of Development at Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), wants you to “Use personal examples, point out concrete mistakes you made and the lessons learned.”

Text
This might seem obvious, but be willing to text. Millennials are phone averse and often don’t even listen to their voicemail. In fact, this trend is so strong that some major companies, like Coca-Cola, are ditching their phone systems all together. Millennials are quick to respond to text messages, where it could take hours or days for a return call. Want to grab a quick coffee because your schedule opened up? Text! Otherwise you could miss the window of opportunity. We also have learned from Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal that to Generation Z (teens and early twenty year olds just entering the workforce) “Email is for connecting with old people, the digital equivalent of putting on a shirt and tie.” For our youngest generation, even email is outdated. Mentors must keep up with the changing technologies or they won’t be able to connect with young colleagues.

Get Personal
Don’t be afraid to get personal with your mentee and talk about things outside of work. Millennials want to care for and by cared by coworkers. PGi research tells us that 71% of millennials are looking for a second family at work and a staggering 88% want their workplace to be social. Almost every millennial interviewed touched on this point. Preya Nixon from the National Utilities Diversity Council, wants a mentor who “Encourages discussion about personal life AND professional life.” Jenna wants her mentor to help her “marry my professional and personal goals as a female professional.” Cynthia Bell, 26, Sales Operations Manager at Industry Dive, needs to “have almost a friendship with (her) mentor” for the relationship to be effective. Quintus Cunningham, a college senior, echoes this sentiment, “I want to feel cared about by my mentor, not just me as a student or employee, but me as a person.” Mentors, go ahead, let your guard down, tell a story, listen to their stories, offer follow-up questions the next session or a quick text of encouragement here and there. It will go a long way!

Be Honest
Millennials are not easily fooled. They are quick to fact-check or corroborate a story on their smartphones and have been honing this skill since the middle school. To have a successful mentoring relationship – be authentic. Our millennials interviewed kept coming back to this topic. Dylan McGuire, 23, Marketing Coordinator at Bowie Gridley Architects explained, “True mentorship comes from being able to explain actions and truly care that they get it, not just show/tell someone what to do. It needs to all feel real and honest for it to truly stick.” They want you to talk about your mistakes and why it was important that you made them. Be candid. Ryan Reese, 31, Director of Student Life at The Field School says, “Mentors shouldn’t sugar coat.” It’s important to give honest feedback in real-time. Talk about company norms and expectations. They will appreciate getting the heads up from your as opposed to reprimanded by a manager. Nervous about delivering hard news? Be sure to set up this ‘norm’ at the beginning of the relationship. Madeline Conicello, a middle school teacher, said that she and her mentor had a code-word for tough feedback, they called it a ‘band-aid moment.’ “When she told me that she had a band-aid moment coming or I saw band-aid on the agenda, I knew tough feedback was coming. I was prepared. I also knew she was telling me to help me.”

Focus on Self-Advocacy
Millennials are independent. In fact, Red Brick Research shows that 79% of millennials would consider leaving their jobs to work for themselves. This autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit has great benefits, but at what costs. Many millennials have trouble navigating and negotiating within their own company, so they leave. Teach your mentee how to advocate for themselves and work within the company. Michelle says, “Discuss explicitly ways in which your mentee can negotiate and promote themselves in the workforce. If you can provide specific numbers for industry standards or based on your experiences, that is invaluable.” Salary, bonus and raise norms are especially important for young professionals as they enter reviews or contract negotiations. Bennett Pang, biologist, 26, wants to know how you got to where you are. “I have one version of how to get ahead in my mind, but my guess is that there are loads of other avenues as well.” Show your mentee that there is no right path to success, rather many different ways to achieve.

Learn from your Mentee (Reverse Mentoring)
There are advantages to being a mentor and not only the “feel-goods” you get from helping others. Several studies have shown great benefits to the mentor including higher retention and an increase in promotions.  Sun Microsystemsfollowed 1000 employees over five years and found that 25% of mentees and 28% of mentors received a raise, compared to only 5% of managers that did not mentor. Are people promoted because they are wearing their mentor ‘hat’? Of course not. They are promoted because they themselves are getting better. Millennial mentees have a lot offer. They are creative and focused, motivated and energetic and, not to mention, rulers of the Twitterverse. Use them! Ask them questions, lean on them. Millennials need to feel valued. Cynthia wants a mentor who “Understands that I can be a resource too! I’ve posted jobs on behalf of my mentor and connected her to other people I think she’d find interesting.” Some of the millennials we spoke to simply want the mentor to treat them as equals. Caila Driscoll, 26, high school math teacher, wants “Conversations to feel like two peers discussing something, where each has valuable input, rather than one older, more experienced person, telling the other what to do, I think it builds mutual respect and understanding.”

In the end, every mentoring relationships will be different, but if you want the inside track to connecting with millennials – use these six tips!

DID YOU KNOW: Twomentor helps companies build mentoring cultures with vast experience working with major corporations, organizations, educational entities and more. Schedule a call with us to discuss your needs associate@twomentor.com www.twomentor.com for our products and services + 15 outstanding Advisors

Are You a Mentoring Manager? 70-20-10

If you are in the training and development field you have probably heard of 70-20-10. My friend Raul C. recently enlightened me on this topic (thank you Raul!).

Based on three decades of research by the Center for Creative Leadership, managers learn 90% by doing, experiencing, communicating and learning from others. To break it down:

  • 70% from challenging assignments
  • 20% from developmental relationships (learning from others)
  • 10% from coursework and training

“Development generally begins with a realization of current or future need and the motivation to do something about it. This might come from feedback, a mistake, watching other people’s reactions, failing or not being up to a task – in other words, from experience. The odds are that development will be about 70% from on-the-job experiences – working on tasks and problems; about 20% from feedback and working around good and bad examples of the need; and 10% from courses and reading,” states researchers Lombardo and Eichinger expressed their rationale behind the 70:20:10 model this way in The Career Architect Development Planner.

When managers learn-by-doing (John Dewey) and receive mentoring/help from others, they are in a better position to take that learning enlightenment and return to teach others… (aka the Joseph Campbell hero path below).

According to a Deloitte survey over 79% of Millennials want their managers to be mentors and coaches in their management style.

We need to look at the role mentoring plays in this 70-20-10 model. Especially in a time where more and more people are reporting that they do not have a professional mentor they go to for professional life. In fact, over 50% report to NOT having a mentor at 40+ professional conferences where we ran surveys and polled the audience)

A good mentor:

Shares from his/her experience

Listens

Gives feedback

Tries to help another come to his/her own conclusions

Creates a safe space for communication (and confidentiality)

A mentor might take their mentee to do something experiential together

Cares about their mentees aspirations, goals and successes

A mentor is a lifelong learner and will learn from teaching and invest in his/her mentee

Finds strength and meaning in seeing another human being self-actualize (Mazlov’s hierarchy of needs- plus!)

I was speaking with some leaders from Gannett Corporation and they shared with me that in a 2015 survey, 100% of their senior leaders felt that they got to where they are today thanks to a mentor.

Can you think of your own 70-20-10 learning and what role mentors have played (or not played) in your career? Perhaps you didn’t use the word mentor before, but if that person’s help led you well onto your path, let’s stop now and reflect on that… and them.

Love to hear from you and learn from your experiences! Contact us info@twomentor.com

# # #

Julie Silard Kantor helps leaders build their living legacies through mentorship and sponsorship. She and her team at Twomentor, LLC are helping to build a much-needed mentoring revolution through thought living-legacy leadership work, mentor training, mentor culture building, Mentor Road Trip™ flash mentoring web sessions and more in many sectors. Two adages that drive us are:

1] The people who mentor at your company are the people who drive retention at your company

2] If you want more diversity (i.e. women in STEM), mentor and sponsor more diversely

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. 

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

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“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

Beyond The Giving Tree: Building a Professional Orchard of Support

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“… and she loved a boy very, very much — even more than she loved herself.” … Shel Silverstein

They all pile into her office. She is their rock. Girlfriend problems, the kids are sick, the raise didn’t come through, the project has been delayed again. She welcomes them in. She knows the names of their grandkids, and that Lisabeth is going to Maui on her honeymoon in early June with the guy she met in the soda aisle of Safeway. She might be the HR manager, Director of Operations, she might be the CEO, Comptroller. Whomever she is… she cares and offers comforting words of wisdom, challenge, new perspectives. She guides them. She guides them all and can’t stand the notion that others are not ready to help… to mentor. If she has a strong Rolodex, she opens it up and makes strategic connections. She is “The Giving Tree” or the proverbial ‘mother hen’ in the office. It makes her feel valued and valuable until she starts feeling like a stump with few resources left, especially if she faces challenges in her own life.

When a family member and I were discussing Shel Silverstein’s world-famous children’s book The Giving Tree a frown came to her face. “Too much sacrificial love,” she said.

The story is about a little boy who visits the tree, swings from her branches, enjoys her apples… but then as he gets older, he has no time for such things. He needs to work and make money.

He leaves for years at a time and she feels lonely and misses the boy. She is thrilled when he comes back.

He shares he is struggling and she happily gives him all her branches to help him build a home.

…And then when he gets much older and has new needs, she gives him her entire trunk to build a boat. All that’s left of her is a stump, a place where he can sit in his old age. A place they can be reunited.

The tree will keep giving. She is happy that she has something to offer, but I speak to so many women executives that share they feel like a stump, drained of energy, burning out in the workforce. Men share this too. They need to be replenished in a world that loves and welcomes martyrs @work. The big challenge for our giving trees and mother hens is asking for help. They are willing to give but find it hard to receive. Couple and Family Therapist Dr. Joan Soncini and I spoke and she shared that part of it is co-dependency issues. When a child’s parents withhold approval, they may spend their lives seeking the approval of others. Feeling that they are not enough.

How do we create a more reciprocal environment at work and decrease burnout of our valued team members? How does the Giving Tree learn to take and welcome help?

“I use to think that if I were a better person, others would be happy. So I’d stay in the office later at the expense of my health and family,” shares Taylor* a commercial real estate executive. “Then it dawned on me that no one else cared if I stayed three hours late, missed yoga and dinner, so why was I doing that to myself?”

“Speak to the person and start with empathy,” states Soncini. Boundaries need to be set if they are giving too much away at the cost of their well being. “Don’t respond to work emails from9: 30 pm to 8 am,” I suggested recently to a good friend and we discussed her writing a document of her accomplishments over the past year and how she feels the company could be structured better to avoid significant stress. “How can you better prioritize yourself?

One female CEO shared with me during one of our Twomentor Flash Mentoring exercises (where we orchestrate it for everyone to mentor and be mentored) that she forgot how to ask people for help. That she was experiencing some challenges and really appreciated the strategic mentoring she received in the session. It energized her. She set up two follow-up coffee dates as well.

For women, especially executive women, we have so much to offer and we do need to avoid stumping- ourselves. We need to build mutual mentoring and sponsoring relationships (a sponsor is someone who champions you to others for opportunity, a mentor encourages, challenges and advises you). Our branches are so much stronger than we realize and we can definitely trade apples… I have Fuji and you have Red Delicious, plus you know that amazing leader who has Granny Smiths- can you connect us?

When mentoring-sponsoring-givers coming together in the workplace we become orchards of strength with vibrant, healthy trees bearing many kinds of fruit for ourselves, our families and our companies.

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor LLC and passionate about building corporate mentoring cultures and initiatives. She can be reached at julie@twomentor.com

#NationalMentoringMonth #Martyr #TheGivingTree #Twomentor #ExecutiveWomen #Burnout #Selfhelp #codependency

Diversity + Mentoring = Increased Inclusion in the Workplace

Twomentor.com and Pixabay

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the Venn diagram between Diversity and Inclusion (D & I) and what we like to call Mentoring 2.0 (Mentoring + Sponsorship). For some reason, they seem to be siloed “movements.”

sponsor is a leader championing another executive behind closed doors for career advancement and opportunity. A mentor shares his/her skills, knowledge, and experience with another in a mutual collaboration or partnership.

“Should mentoring fall under HR or Diversity?” executives ask me often. That’s one of the big issues. Who in a corporation “owns'” the work to build a mentoring initiative or culture?

“Mentoring is a four-letter word around here,” said another executive. “We had a failed initiative a few years ago and …”

The more I work with leaders on the challenges they are solving for, the more I see they are interdependent movements that need to join each other at the strategy table from now on. Employee engagement, Millennial retention, advancement of women and minorities, workplace isolation with a 32% engagement rate (Gallup), the more I see inclusion is actually the heart of the Venn handshake between mentoring and diversity (see image above).

Let’s look at some of the data out there:

According to the Association for Talent Development, 44% of CEOs list mentorship programs as one of the three most valuable strategies to advance women into Senior Management. At Goldman Sachs, 70% of women who were mentored by senior leaders (1 leader mentoring 5 women) were promoted to Managing Director roles within five years.

Additionally, a relatively new study by Kaitlyn Conboy and Chris Kelly at Cornell University illustrate some powerful findings:

Mentoring is more effective than other diversity initiatives. “Large companies implement a variety of diversity initiatives, including voluntary training, targeted recruitment, cross-training as well as mentorship. Mentorship programs can boost the representation of Black, Hispanic, and Asian American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men at manager levels by 9% to 24%, as compared to the other initiatives which have lower results ranging from -2% to 18%,” the study states.

It is reminiscent of my conversations a few years ago with Harvard professor Frank Dobbins who researched 800 major companies over 30 years :

“In analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms and interviewing hundreds of line managers and executives at length, we’ve seen that companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics. It’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded. That’s why interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces have boosted diversity in businesses. Some of the most effective solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind,” states Dobbins.

The Cornell study also found that “Mentoring improves both the promotion and retention of diverse groups. In fact, they help increase promotion and retention rates of minority men and women by 15%-38% compared to non-mentored minorities. It has been inferred that this is due to innate biases that influence people to help those who are similar to themselves; therefore, the lower number of minorities in upper management means that those who do not have a mentor, either organic or assigned, will not benefit due to a lack of access.”

Part of that access is that mentees often choose mentors in their own likeness and mentors often choose mentees in their own likeness. Golf course- manicure buddies! So where and how does our workforce get that access that will drive more diverse mentoring and yield more inclusion?

“Ladies and gentlemen, we want you to find someone who does not remind you of yourself,” I said at a conference from the podium midway during one of our Mentor Road Trip™ Flash Mentoring sessions.

Leaders and executives look at me with mild surprise and then go about the task of finding someone who they believe is different then themselves.

“You can go beyond race, religion, and gender,” just find someone who for whatever reason does not remind you of yourself, I restate.

They do and big smiles come out. The interaction desire is strong.

Earlier I asked ” How many of you have a mentor, someone you can go to for professional advice?” Less than 30% raise their hands (every time and less than 15% share they are mentoring others).

“Whoever traveled the furthest to be here at the conference (or training session), you will take on the role of the mentor this segment”

“Mentors share your first three months on the job at the company [be it Verizon Wireless, Marriott, NextEra, University of XYZ etc.]. What is the best mentoring advice anyone gave you there?” I ask. “Mentees, this is for your learning so don’t hesitate to ask questions. You have 6-minutes team, GO.”

Before people leave the session, they set up a coffee date with someone that they choose to continue a mentoring conversation with. The next month, its time to formalize these or new pairings with official mentor training 1.0 and a six to nine-month gameplan.

It is a simple exercise but boy does it break down the barriers or the ‘elevator pause’ we see out there! That feeling you have when you are on an elevator of strangers. Does anyone say hi? Do we break the ice and human meets human, or do we pause, look down at our Samsungs and iPhones, step off on floor six and go about our days?

When we mentor more diversely we get more diversity in our companies. When mentoring meets diversity hand in hand we get more inclusion. When our younger generation mentors our older generations (reverse mentoring) we get more engagement and inclusion.

When we engineer mentoring in a fun, user-friendly way we get more mentor-mentee and diverse mentor matches. Human sees human. Phone goes into the jacket pocket. Human helps human.

We are happy to share our new Mentoring Imperative E-Book with you to look at the compelling data and start a new dialogue internally.

You will learn how mentoring is a vehicle to drive:

Diversity, multigenerational employee retention, engagement, knowledge transfer, and build leadership legacies.

YOUR COPY: Just email info@twomentor.com with your name, company, and best contact information. 

HERE TO HELP YOU BUILD THE RIGHT WAY: Let’s discuss your unique needs and our outsourced mentoring offerings, training, conference keynotes, flash mentoring sessions and more. Contact, Sophia@twomentor.com or 18006071605.