Accountability in Your Mentorship Relationship

marc bombenon handshake

One of the keys to a truly successful mentorship relationship is building a sense of accountability early on.  Establishing accountability from the beginning will help both parties in the mentorship relationship to actively benefit from the exchange. Often times, mentorships end up fizzling out because the mentor provides advice, connections, etc to a protégé who does not understand that they must be an active member of the partnership. One of the first things that a new mentor should do is have an active discussion about accountability with their protégé and create an outline of what accountability will look like moving forward.

Create a Timeline

It’s impossible to plan out every single step of a protégé’s career; but that doesn’t mean that realistic goals and benchmarks should not be set. A clear timeline will allow both parties to agree upon exactly what is expected to come from their relationship.

When establishing a timeline, it’s important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly. A mentor may have certain ideas based on their experience, while a protégé have certain ideas expectations based on their ideas of what success look like. Remember that nothing is cast in stone; these goals and time frames can be reassessed if need be.

The purpose of the timeline is to allow the protégé to assess exactly what needs to be down in order to reach their goals, and gives them something to work towards. With a timeline in place, a protégé will be less likely to wait around for a mentor to give tips and advice, and it allows the protégé to be proactive within their career.

Measure Progress

In a mentor & protégé partnership, it’s important for both parties involved to take an active part in the measurements of progress and success. This will keep both parties aware of what is going on, and allow for healthy and active discussion on what has been accomplished, and what (if anything) has become stagnant in the plan.

One ofthe best ways to create accountability is to have a regularly scheduled meeting (bi-weekly, monthly, etc) that should not be broken; have a backup date scheduled as well. Consistency is key, and the continued meetings and discussions will keep everyone active and eager to have events and topics to report about.

Have a way to keep track of progress and accomplishments. Both people can keep a journal, or there can be a running document. Just make sure that there’s a way to actively measure that progress and accountability.

The Keys to Healthy Accountability Discussions

  • Good Timing: It’s important that the mentor (and protégé) be able to read the situation at hand. If one party is already down for whatever reason, it’s important to create a situation of comfort and optimism before delivering negative or hard news. Poorly-timed chastising could very well destroy a healthy mentor-protégé relationship.
  • Positive Attitudes: It’s important to keep positivity and happiness at the forefront of any discussion. A great mentor should be able to instill a sense of confidence in their protégé, even if there are negative topics that need to be discussed. No one benefits from being constantly bombarded with negative energy.

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Creating A Mentorship Program At Your Company

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If you’ve been following my blog, you know how important I believe mentorship to be for success and growth within any career path. If you have the ability to do so, one of the most valuable things you can do in any workplace is to create a mentorship program. A successful program has the ability to lead to higher employee satisfaction and allow for the development of new leadership skills. If carried out correctly, there is very little room for the mentorship program to have a negative impact. There are a few things that you’ll need to take care of in order to build a successful mentorship program:

 

Determine Your Program’s Objective

Before you try to pitch your idea for your mentorship program, you must first determine the goals and structure you see for the program. Your company may have different issues and needs to address, so be sure to figure out what you want to tackle. (A mentorship program for new hires would require a completely different setup than a mentorship program that is focused on grooming future company leaders.)

 

One of the major keys will be to make sure you work with the company culture. Formal work culture will require a more formal process and more relaxed scenes will require less structure. But no matter what the culture, you will need to determine how the mentor/mentee pairings will be established and determine a general outline of goals that should be accomplished through the partnership.

 

Determine the Pairing Process

This will by and large be the most difficult (and vital) part of the process. There are a few different ways that you can structure the mentor & mentee relationship:

 

Group Mentoring: In this set-up, a number of employees work together to share information, provide advice, and work towards a goal of mutual professional growth. Most group mentoring programs have a “group leader” who facilitates the forward movement of the group.

 

Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring is the pairing up of similar employees. In this scenario, individuals develop a relationship based on the transfer of knowledge, and create an environment rich with skills and continuous learning.

 

Flash Mentoring: This mentoring scenario would be a series of “one-time meetings or discussions” where those interested in being mentored can sit down and meet with different mentors. This situation puts less pressure on the mentor, but still allows for the mentee to get the information that they need.


 

For resources: Inc. & Management Mentors & Flash Mentoring

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Qualities to Look For in a Mentor

mentorship

 

A mentor can truly be one of the most valuable assets in your professional life. No matter what level you are at in your career, one can always benefit from having someone more experienced and more connected in their corner. Mentors have been proven to help advance careers, support new ventures, and provide guidance every step along the way. When choosing a mentor, there are a few qualities that you should be looking for.

 

Experience

The entire purpose of building a mentor and mentee relationship, is to create a space where the mentee benefits from the mentor’s experience. Make sure that the mentor you choose has pertinent and appropriate experience, and that their career path or expertise aligns with your career goals.

 

Motivational Abilities

A mentor should have the ability to teach you how to be better and more productive. It’s important that you two have great professional chemistry and that they have the tools to motivate you when you’re feeling discouraged or unsure.

 

Network

This is HUGELY important. A good mentor will be able to get you connected with relevant professionals within your industry and beyond. A well connected mentor means you will be guaranteed great introductions, get access to career-relevant events, and be put into the line of sight of thought-leaders in your field.

 

Goal Oriented

As a mentee, you will undoubtedly have goals and aspirations of your own. But your mentor should have the ability to hone in on what you want to accomplish and create realistic step-by-step goals that will lead you down the correct path. A great mentor will help you stay focused and provide guidance when goals feel unattainable.

 

Clear Perspective

It’s very important that your mentor bring unbiased opinions to the table. The last thing that you need is someone who will always take your side in a moment of professional (or personal) conflict. You will need someone who is ready to listen to your side of the story and give you appropriate and realistic feedback; they need to be able to tell you when you are wrong.

To see the inspiration for this article, click here.

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Building a Mutually Beneficial Mentor-Mentee Relationship

When entering the professional world, having a mentor can be very important. In fact,  a 2012 Dimensional Research survey revealed that mentorship was the number one request by millennials worldwide. 42% of millennials said that when it came time to enter the professional world, they wanted mentors.But can the mentor learn from their mentees as well? It turns out that the mentor-mentee relationship has become mutually beneficial.

To understand the ways the mentor-mentee relationship in changing in today’s society, we must look at how millennials are shifting their focus. While they are strongly enthusiastic about getting mentors, they don’t necessarily want to follow in their mentor’s shoes. It may seem at first pointless to mentor someone who isn’t doing exactly what you want to do. Perhaps this diversity in aspirations is what leads mentors to learn from mentees, too.

But there are more benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship than seeing someone choose their own experience. So what is it that makes mentoring a younger person such a good life experience? And how can we get the most out of the mentor-mentee relationship?

mentorship

Of course, it feels rewarding to help another person. But there are more benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship than the satisfaction of lending a helping hand. Mentoring a younger person also gives a mentor insight into the mindset of the younger work force. This allows the professionals in higher up positions to understand more about millennials who are entering the workforce. It also gives the mentor connections to the mentee’s friends and peers. This network of people provides many viable candidates for professions that need to be filled. Companies and individuals will need to hire these young professionals in the next 10 to 15 years in order to stay relevant.

One of the most important things to remember when maintaining a mentor-mentee relationship is to keep it professional. Make sure that the friendship does not become one similar to a parent and child. It is important to set expectations and remain constructive. And of course, stay open to learning new information and skills from your mentee.

The younger crop of professionals can also help out their mentors figure out new aspects of the professional world that may be stumping them. For example, millennials are a great source of information on how to manage social media. In the information age, technology is constantly creating new jobs and new professional angles that are necessary to take. A mentor is an enormously helpful person in a young professional’s life. But in an ever changing professional world, mentees can help mentors get ahead in the professional world, too.

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3 Books Every Young Professional Should Read

prof-reading

We all know that reading is essential, yet sometimes, the busier we get, the more responsibilities we obtain, and the longer our work days become, we find it difficult to actually sit down and take some time to read a good book. Perhaps if we alter the way we think about reading, and acknowledge its true value, we can come to understand how reading is truly an investment towards our professional development.

With that said, here are 3 books every professional should read to increase productivity, efficiency, creativity, and problem solving.

How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

If your professional background is in sales or public relations, this is an excellent read. Now, keep in mind, this book was written in the 1930s and lot has changed since then. However, with over 15 million copies sold to date, How to Win Friends and Influence People remains as relevant as ever. According to Dale Carnegie, “Financial success is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.” Even Warren Buffet has praised Carnegie’s work as “the most successful self-help book of all time.”

#GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso

Who says young women don’t make great business leaders. Sophia Amoruso recounts her story as a college dropout, lost and directionless, she began selling vintage clothes in the lobby of an art school. She eventually built this small eBay shop into the multi-million dollar company Nasty Gal. According to Vanity Fair, “Rather than present a get-rich-quick manual or a list of business tips, Amoruso teaches the innovative and entrepreneurial among us to play to our strengths, learn from our mistakes, and know when to break a few of the traditional rules.”

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Load… And Others Don’t – Jim Collins

What factors contribute to company longevity and growth? How do good, mediocre, or even bad companies prosper? Jim Collins takes a closer look at how good companies turn great and how business owners today can differentiate between which risks to endure and which to avoid.

These three professional development reads will definitely inspire you to put your best foot forward.

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How Big Companies Lose Top Employees

 

quit-job

High turnover is never a good sign. High turnover is especially bad when companies begin to lose their best and brightest. LinkedIn recently conducted a study which indicated that 59% of employees seek new career opportunities at smaller establishments. While some top tier companies are wondering why their employees would seek a more intimate setting, and in some instances even a pay cut, the answer may be very clear. Here are 3 reasons your top talent is jumping ship for smaller boats.

1. Talented, experienced employees see through the hype.

After years in a particular industry or niche, most talented employees are going to understand that every day working at any company won’t be filled with sunshine and butterflies. If you’re trying to sell potential or new employees on how amazing it will be for them to work at your company without the slightest mention of daily grit and grind, you’re going to give off the impression that what you’re selling is “too good to be true.” And as our mothers always said, “if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.” Building an employee brand with honesty and transparency has become increasingly important to the modern day worker. Make sure that if you have a particularly large staff that your HR and Marketing teams are on the same page regarding employee brand.

2. Gone are the days of the typical 9-5 employee.

Although navigating the job market continues to prove difficult, sophisticated job seekers no longer find a typical 9 to 5 job appealing. They no longer want to simply clock in, stare at the dull grey walls of a cubicle, then clock out at 5. They seek thrill and meaning in their work. This isn’t to say employees necessarily want to work less hours, but more so, they want to truly feel as though they are part of a team. Instead of working “for” and employer, they’d rather work “with” them. Especially with the cost of education constantly rising, even recent graduates want to feel valued for their contributions.

3. Poor Office Culture.

Tying in both concepts of a strong employee brand and collaborative workforce, many employees are seeking companies that provide a fun and engaging office culture. If you think about it, most Americans spend more time at work than they do at home. Because of this, employees are jumping left and right at job opportunities that not only provide strong benefit packages but also perks. This is the main reason talented employees are neglecting corporate jobs for small startups. If a startup cannot offer comparable pay, they usually offer a number of perks ranging from company outings, free gear, unlimited product use, or top of the line technology.

In order to succeed, big business may have to rethink how they treat their top talent.

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