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.

The Walls Between Us

Pixabay

By Julie Silard Kantor, CEO Twomentor LLC. Published on Medium.com 

I’ve been walking around this week with Crowded House’s lyrics playing through my head on a continuous loop. Walls have been on my mind and how we break them down with each other

Hey now, hey now

Don’t dream it’s over

Hey now, hey now

When the world comes in

They come, they come

To build a wall between us

We know they won’t win

 

You’ve all seen the scenes that play out…

The four-top at the restaurant where the Galaxy and iPhone screens win over the menu and vibrant conversation.

The same scene but this time at work right before the Monday weekly staff meeting.

The relatives who you did not see over Christmas, Chanukah or Thanksgiving because of differing political opinions.

As I travel the globe I am inspired by the many diversity leaders, HR leaders, CXOs who are focusing on how to bring down these invisible walls that separate us. They are stumped by the disconnects they see every day. They know there is an issue. It’s hard to put our finger on it, but it is significantly impacting workplace culture.

The workplace has a key role to play in curbing America’s Loneliness epidemic. Arthur C. Brooks, President of AEI had this to share in a recent NY Times Op-ed titled “How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart”

Why are we becoming so lonely? One reason is the changing nature of work. Work is one of the key sources of friendship and community. Think of your own relationships; surely many of your closest friendships — perhaps even your relationship with your spouse — started in the workplace. Yet the reality of the workplace is rapidly attenuating, as people hop from job to job, and from city to city, as steady work becomes harder to find and the “gig” economy grows.

When we isolate by not bringing down the walls between us we become sick. We feel sick with our concerns and challenges and forget that thousands of other people may be dealing with similar issues. The walls go up and according to Cigna’s research 46% of American’s often or always feel alone. The hardest hit is our 18 – 22-year-olds. We see that anxiety and suicide rates have gone up in our country and self-medicating the social pain with opioids has brought our overall life expectancy rates down as a nation. Gallup released a finding last Thursday that among those under the age of 35, an average of 87% felt they had good mental health in 2015 – 2016. That number, however, dropped to 74% for the past two years. A divided nation?

In a quest for a feeling of Belonging, people seek out others who are most ‘like them’ and join tribes. They push away and dismiss others quickly who are different creating more polarized societies and chipping away at years of social inclusion and diversity efforts. This is playing out in politics today and can become very dangerous according to Howard J. Ross who just put out an extraordinary book on this topic that is my Audible #1 Our Search for Belonging: How Our Need to Connect Is Tearing Us Apart. 

CAN MENTORING BRING THE WALLS DOWN & FOSTER A STRONGER SENSE OF BELONGING OR INCLUSION?

I have shared often an observation that surprises many. In most boardrooms, hotel conferences, association webinars, when I poll executives under 30% share that they have someone that mentors them. One group of senior managers at a financial institution 3, yes three out of 26 raised their hands said they have a mentor.

I’m beginning to think the word itself ‘mentor’ causes a lot of confusion for some reason. As January is National Mentoring Month, we should reflect on this and the role mentoring can play to create solid bridges and meaningful connections. Has it played a role in your life?

A mentor shares from their experience, skills, learning. “How many of you are currently mentoring someone else?” I asked the same group

I remember gulping back my own shock that so few managers had mentors and that less than 10% reported they were mentoring others.

A Deloitte survey showed that 79% of Millennials want their managers to be mentors. They don’t want to isolate. They want to learn from you and feel included as a most basic human need. It’s a WIN/WIN because they want to grow from your knowledge and experiences and add tremendous value by reciprocating.

From what we have seen, we can bring down these man-made walls with a little engineering around mentoring connections and mentoring conversations. I want you to see the joy in people’s eyes when we create the space for people to share and learn. Human helps human bringing out the best and both parties benefit. Perhaps we can modify the melody to

We come, we come

To remove the wall between us

We know that we [humanity, each other] can win…

———————————————————————————–Twomentor: Building Corporate and Organizational Mentoring Initiatives and Cultures

1 833 5 (MENTOR)

Overview Prezi: https://prezi.com/p/mtpvhyrq5_op/https://prezi.com/p/mtpvhyrq5_op/

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.

—-

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.

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

MWorkplace 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 training 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 training 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 training and mentee training, flash mentoring, business case keynotes and more.

LET’S TALK! 
Scheduling Contact, Sophia@twomentor.com

When Your Mentor Isn’t Perfect: 5 Strategies For Bringing Out The Best In Each Other

by Devi Jagadesan, Summer Associate at Twomentor

Nobody’s perfect, including our mentors that we look up to. Some of us are unorganized, lack communication, or simply get caught in the chaos of a difficult work schedule that we forget we have someone looking up to us as a role model. However, there is always room to improve as a mentor while bringing out the best in your mentee. According to Deloitte, Millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%). Furthermore, according to a 2014 survey by The UPS Store70 percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than five years – double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses. There is such a strong business case for mentoring, but these relationships can get derailed if not nurtured or if we have unrealistic expectations of each other.

1.    Honesty and open communication

It is important in a mentor/mentee relationship to build the foundation early for how you both will give and receive feedback. Being transparent builds trust and more room for open communication. Make sure as a mentor, you listen closely to your mentee and get to know them both as a person and a professional. You are in a position to help your mentee build on her/his strengths while giving constructive feedback on areas your mentee can improve. I had a concerned mentor ask me often “Are you taking care of yourself,” as part of his dedication to self-care being vital in the workforce. His feedback was well received. If you go overboard with critical feedback, the relationship will most likely deteriorate. Good communication is key for a long-lasting mentor/mentee relationship.

2.    Goal setting and task oriented

Part of being a mentor is helping your mentee on the journey toward achieving his/her goals. A lot of mentor-mentee relationships fail because there are no clarified objectives as the basis of the working relationship. It is important to go over the mentee’s goals on the first or second meeting and recognize milestones monthly or bi-monthly. New goals may emerge. Some mentors try to form their mentee into their own image, by having your mentee establish their own goals. Your job is to support your mentees vision and success while encourage them to keep the momentum moving forward.

3.    Mutual respect

Your mentor or mentee might disappoint you personally or professionally. This can be very hard emotionally on the mentor/mentee relationship. Mentors and mentees must have mutual respect for one another but might have different values, and beliefs. Although a mentor usually has more experience than the mentee, being able to respect his/her mentee for their strengths and all they have to bring to the table is vital. When a mentor believes in the mentee, it gives them the courage and confidence. Likewise, when the mentee has respect for their mentor for their experience, skills, ability to guide, the mentor is more willing to help. The mentor has an abundance of knowledge to offer the mentee. Each individual will grow together. If you feel on either side that the person is unethical, we suggest you move on and not align yourself with them further.

4.    Carve out time for each other

Along with having mutual respect, a mentor and mentee must allocate enough time for each other. Canceling and rescheduling too many meetings can really weaken the potential of the relationship. This goes back to the point of mutual respect and valuing the other person’s time. Although we aren’t perfect, and sometimes get lost in a sea of scheduling conflicts, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is an important priority. Carving out enough time for each other must be in the upfront plan, even if it is just for 3 – 9 months of meetings.

5.    Ask each other LOTS of questions

One of the best parts about the mentor and mentee relationship is that there for room for growth for both parties and trust needs to be established early. Getting to know each other is important whether it is about one another’s work, family life, or favorite hobbies and dreams. Finding commonalities make the relationship stronger and more enjoyable for both of you. You do not want to be strangers with your mentee, you want to build a rapport that makes you excited to be on this journey together. The more comfortable you both are, the more questions you can ask each other for learning and growth.  Sharing your life experiences openly is also important for your mentee to hear so they can learn from your successes and mistakes. Your honest insights will make your mentee feel safe in opening up as well.

Lastly,  The mentor/mentee relationship is a learning experience. If you follow these five recommendations, it will only strengthen the bond. A bond is formed when two people are able to be their true, authentic selves around one another. So the best advice is BE YOU, flaws and all because that is how both parties will benefit and grow.

LET’S TALK! 
Scheduling Contact, Sophia@twomentor.com