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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have learned that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to Keep Your Millennials — Mentor Them

Written with Bridget McKeogh

There seems to be a profound disconnect in the workforce between Millennials (1984 – 2012), Generation Xers (1965 – 1983), Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964) and Greatest Generation/Traditionalists (1930 – 1946). The complaints are rampant.

But there is also something pretty clear across the board that we can all own. Every Gallup study shows that the overall workforce is disengaged to some extent. Yes, that means you or someone who works in close proximity to you is likely counting the minutes to five pm. Last week Gallup reported that the U.S employee engagement average for November was 32.1%.  That’s one out of every three people! And the number ticks up higher the older you are. In 2014 Gallup reported Traditionalists have 42.2% engagement, 32.7% for Baby boomers, 32.2% for Generation X, and just 28.9% of Millennials report that they are engaged at work.

By 2020, Millennials will become the largest generation in the workforce.

Millennials tend to frustrate corporate America with a sense of ‘entitlement.’  It is widely viewed that they are ‘coddled’ by their Baby Boomer parents, told they could be anything, not willing to pay their dues.  One friend, an entrepreneur Julie Beck, shared how she had been so ‘Millennialed’ this year, she even coined the phrase. Two Millennials transitioned in unprofessional manners, one by a text message! Don’t they care about having a positive reference? Millennials tend to stay in jobs for under two years and don’t seem as motivated by the career track, raises and other incentives that are the mainstay of corporate America.

Over the past few years, I have seen and worked with a great number of Millennials and observed the lack of mentoring the ‘older’ generations are offering them. Why are we not investing? Are we threatened by their confidence, desire to lead? Given our own low engagement scores in the workplace, have we become too cranky?

But let’s go deeper into the issues, the problems, and mentoring as part of the solution to train and retain our newer and high-potential talent:

According to a key study by Intelligence Group (a division of the Creative Artist Agency), we get some keen insight:

72% of Millennials would like to be their own boss, but if they have to work for a boss, 79% would want that boss to serve more as a coach or a mentor.  The study also shows that 88% of Millennials prefer a collaborative culture over a competitive culture and they are looking to make a difference in their professional lives. I think of Millennials often as the ‘purpose generation’.

As the workforce shifts, our society is challenged in finding enough STEM talent. STEM talent refers to skills needed for almost every job (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). For example, there are millions of unfilled jobs that require STEM skills and STEM jobs tend to pay better (@40% so it’s a much clearer pathway to the middle class and arguably, the American Dream).

Goldman Sachs is among the first to publically put some big cards on the table publicly. On the front page of the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, they asked their Millennials to stay and promised that things will improve by offering clearer paths to promotions, experiences in different banking environments and mandating “No Work Saturdays”.

Another solution: creating Mentoring Cultures. This is what we focus on around the clock at Twomentor, LLC. Aligning mentoring to the whole fabric of the company, and part of people’s performance reviews. PGi released a study that dove into the millennial mindset. Of those millennials surveryed, 71% stated that they wanted meaningful connections at work and hope to find a “second family” in their coworkers. Additionally, 75% not only want mentors, but deem it crucial for success. In the same survey, 70% of non-millennials say they are open to reverse mentoring. They acknowledge that 20-somethings have first-hand knowledge of social media and other technical practices and older employees want to learn! A majority of Millennials sited “not a good cultural fit” as a reason they left their job in the first three years. To retain the new majority in the workforce, companies need to align culture more to Millennial needs, and perhaps all of our needs to have more meaningful support and connection at work.

AN ECONOMIC BURDEN

Each time you lose someone good, you lose time and money. Forbes reported that the average cost to replace a millennial is 15k-25k. Goldman Sachs isn’t trying to retain Millennials solely out of the goodness of their hearts, retention is a significant economic issue. It’s good for business. Companies pour significant money into recruitment but programing around development and retention is given less attention and some of the behavior patterns of Millennials reflects that.

So bottom line, It’s time to get the human back in human capital.

Companies are made up of human beings not human doings, and an engaged workforce = ROI for the company and the people who make up the company.

The business case for mentoring is so strong that in a Wharton study, people who mentor got promoted 6x more than people who didn’t and mentees were promoted 5x more. …And retention was 20% higher in both groups five years later- YEAH, that’s what we are talking about! Most companies have informal mentoring programs or aspirations, if you want to capture ROI, look at metrics that can be captured- after all, you get what you measure.

The way we see it, there is no downside to mentoring. Mentors and mentees are more engaged and better positioned for advancement. Engagement equals retention and retention saves time and money. Put in a little time and effort now, to save big headaches later. What is there to lose?