The Hidden Power of Storytelling in Corporate Mentorship

First Class Experience Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Mentoring Initiative

First Class Experience: Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Mentoring Initiative

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.