Category: Mentoring

Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

In the year 1999, the concept of reverse mentoring was popularized by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric. He did a pilot study where he paired 500 senior and junior employees with the hope that junior will teach the senior employees about technology advancements.

This process worked and now young and bright can teach the old. The success of the pilot study helped other companies to adopt this model of reverse mentoring. Companies like Cisco, United Healthcare, Fidelity, etc developed their own reverse mentoring programs.

Reverse mentoring is a shared learning between colleagues of varied background to create a unified corporate learning. Main advantage is that it facilitates organisations to achieve strategic goals like increasing millennial retention, fostering inclusivity, and maintaining competitive advantage through technological advancements

Benefits of reverse mentoring

1- Increasing Millennial Retention

According to data, 43% of millennials plan to leave their current job in two years. Companies are struggling with this and coming up with new employee engagement strategies. But the younger generation demands continuous learning and transferable skill development, career advancements, better opportunities. All these things can be done through reverse mentoring.

Inverting the hierarchy helps millennials to act as mentors, they understand the situation, become more accountable and help the seniors to improve. Millennials feel valued for the contributions and they gain confidence also. Reverse mentoring also help millennials to network with senior leaders which will help them in their future career.

Pershing is a financial services company which implemented reverse mentoring program in their company and saw immense changes. The retention rate was 96% for the millennials who were involved in reverse mentoring.

2- Improving Diversity and Inclusion

Reverse mentoring is a good way to foster diversity and inclusion at the workplace. Pairing senior leaders with employees with disability or employees from different background will help to develop empathic perspective. This will also reduce the unconscious bias.

One of the examples can be, at P&G, senior leaders were paired with disabled employees and found out that the internal videos of the company are of no use for the people who have hearing disabilities. Then the company added captions to all videos which helped the disable people to understand the video.

This can also be an organizational development strategy which can incubate a diverse pipeline of talent.

3- Staying Abreast of Technological Advancements

A lot of senior leaders find it difficult to pace up with the rapid changes in the technological and digital advances. This hinders their productivity. Getting mentored by younger employees on technology will help senior leaders to learn about technology and they can also cope with it. It also helps in getting traditional IT workers out of their waterfall silos.

According to Deloitte, “organizations must put humans in the loop-reconstructing work, retaining people, and rearranging the organization.” Reverse mentoring has its own benefits and is vital for the company but each company should have a reason to implement this program. Reverse mentoring program will only be effective if it is tied to a strong business need.

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Situational Mentoring: Right Help at Right Time

Situational mentoring is a short-term discussion between executives on issues which are highly impactful in nature. The main objective is to enhance the individual and organization performance. It is a quick-hitting, short-term collaborative learning relationship which leads to creating solutions which are creative in nature.

Situational mentoring involves mentors and experts for information, advice, and feedback. In situational mentoring, mentees look for collaborators who can guide them or give them specific advice on a single, targeted issue which needs to be solved quickly. These kinds of compact microlearning engagements are fast to set up and fast to shut down.

Situational mentors are considered as the right help at right time. They inspire, motivate, encourage, and share valuable lessons to the mentees. They provide support to a specific situation and guidance and help in overcoming it.

Things that will help in situational mentoring:

Create a clear context

To get actionable results, it’s important for both mentor and mentee to have a clear understanding of the issue or situation. This will help in judging the situation well and making better decisions to solve the problem. A clear context will also work as a good starting point for the initial meeting between mentor and mentee. This will also help in setting the timeline and make the action plan. The action plan should include understanding the situation, gather additional information and select and test solution

Focusing on people

To transfer tacit knowledge, it requires interaction. Tacit knowledge is the judgement and wisdom which is acquired through experience i.e. it can’t be gained through by looking at the database. Tacit knowledge has a relational context which creates an atmosphere for dialogue, good and analytical understanding of the situation. This leads to building commitment from both the parties involved to find a solution to the issue.

Attributes of a situational mentor

  • Commitment oriented – Situational mentors are committed to solve the specific problem in an efficient manner. The focus is not how much time will be offered from mentor to the mentee but how efficiently the problem is solved.
  • Situational mentor encourages others – Mentors believe that everyone comes with a unique skill set and they should use that to solve problems personally and professionally.
  • Situational mentors believe that each person has a unique potential and it is exciting– They believe each individual can stretch the limits to achieve the goals. Mentors are usually positive in their approach and promote mentee’s potential in every way possible. This will help the mentees to achieve the next level of their aspirations.
  • Situational mentors can be of any age – Situational mentors don’t necessarily have to be in the management position. They can be of any age. A lot of times junior professional have a lot to offer and can help mentees to achieve their aspirations. Young mentors can provide technical guidance or can give their generation’s perspective on various issues. Young mentors know their niche area and they can offer good advice in that.
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Why is Mentoring Important?

Mentoring is a collaborative relationship that occurs between senior and junior employee for the reason of mentee’s growth in terms of personal and professional life. Mostly the mentor and mentee are internal to the organisation and mentor usually align mentee to organisational goals and culture. Mentor often act as role models for their mentee and help them to solve their problems and guide them to reach their goals.

There are various forms of mentoring i.e. formal or informal.

Formal mentoring means when the goals set by the mentor and mentee are actionable, achievable, specific, and measurable. Goals have a fixed timeline and mentor-mentee strive to achieve that goal.

Informal mentoring, mentees set goals which are usually not measurable. The environment for mentoring is informal and unstructured. There is no timeline set and the relationship between mentor and mentee is not formal.

Formal mentoring is usually preferred for the professional growth because the goals are aligned with the overall objective of the organisation and will help the mentee to step up the career ladder.

Why is Mentoring Important?

Mentoring is important because a good mentor helps the mentee to be more effective, clear and confident about his/her work. Mentoring helps the mentee to grow which ultimately leads to better job satisfaction, higher motivation, higher productivity etc. Mentor also helps the mentee to improve at personal life by helping him/her removing the roadblocks or understanding the situation with a better perspective. This will help the mentee to gain confidence and hence, be able to improve personal life.

Professional mentoring include expansion of generational and cultural perspectives, strengthening of skills like technical, interpersonal skills, empathy, leadership, communication, negotiation, etc. which will ultimately help in gaining new insights and continue to experience new ideas.

Different Types of Mentoring

  1. One-on-one mentoring – It is the most traditional type of mentoring. Only mentor and mentee are involved where a more-experienced individual paired with a less-experienced mentee or a younger mentee.
  2. Group Mentoring – There are several mentors with group of mentees. This is usually successful when there are lot of people and lack of time and resources. Institutes like schools, youth programs, etc often use this type of mentoring.
  3. Peer Mentoring – In this type of mentoring, participants and peer are from same role or the same department must have shared similar experiences whether in their personal and professional lives. Pairs often support each other to solve problems. It can be either group or one-on-one mentoring relationship.
  4. E-Mentoring – When participants connect virtually through online software or even through e-mails, then this mentoring will come under E-mentoring or distance mentoring.
  5. Reverse Mentoring – This is the flipped model of traditional mentoring where a junior employee mentors a senior professional. This relationship is usually for the junior professional to teach new skills or technology to the senior one.
  6. Speed Mentoring – It is a play on speed dating and usually occurs during corporate events or conferences. In this mentee usually have a series of a one-on-one conversation with different mentors and gain insights from them.
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Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor- Establishing Trust & Rapport

Mentoring is a partnered learning process. The critical element that can “make or break” the partnership is the kinship that is kindled amongst the mentor and the mentee.By rapport we are referring to actions that create a bond that rests on the strong foundation of trust and security. The basic building block for any relationship should always be trust and understanding, never insecurity or fear. The relationship between a mother and a child – one of the first that any human being has in life is one such. As a human being progresses in life , moving from dependence to independence, lessons in rejection, fear ,discomfort and pain makes them stronger. Here are a few tips to be a better mentor by establishing trust and rapport.

Rapport in mentoring also follows a similar journey – one that starts with trust and dependence, moves through challenges , learns from them and culminates in independence. The tone set during the first meeting would determine how the relationship between the mentor and the mentee takes off. The protégé enters into a mentoring partnership with a mask that arises from being unsure of the consequences of the whole exercise. The onus of reassuring the protégé and making him comfortable and secure rests on the mentor and this first step is crucial. But there is no cause if the first meeting doesn’t turn out to be great. I’m sure we all have built great friendships where day – one started on shaky ground. The same holds good with a mentoring partnership as well.

Establishing rapport with an unknown person is easier said than done. For kindling the embers of trust and kinship from the first meeting it is important to identify the areas of rapport which needs to be focussed on. We shall call it the four components – communicating in the same platform, gifting gestures and being attentive to feelings .

Breaking the hierarchy

The protégé walks into the first mentoring with a lot of unanswered questions. Am I going to be judged? Is this situation embarrassing? What if I don’t do well? The underlying apprehension can be overcome in a minute through a welcoming gesture from the mentor. The protégé from the first minute should be reassured of the fact that the mentoring process is to happen on a level play- ground. Positive gestures like a smile, a warm handshake, eye contact, personalised greeting, reference to each other by first names etc can set the right tone indicating that there is no hierarchy or level in mentoring.

Sense of abundance

A lot of mentors make the classic mistake of starting off on a warm note, but become serious and grave as the session gains momentum. It is important to take that camaraderie and warmth and camaraderie forward at least till the protégé is accepting and  trusting to create positive learning ambience in mentoring. Moving the mentoring session to a less formal environment like a coffee-shop, or passing a round of chocolates at the start of the session as a ritual can lighten the mood and give an impression of a “not – so serious” mentoring session. Gifting gestures from the mentor gives out positive messages and dissolves any inhibitions that they protégé may have about the mentor being “ dangerous”.

Empathetic Listening

A great mentor will be extremely conscious of the mentees reactions and would use the learning to relate to their feelings. A fruitful mentoring partnership is one where the protégé is made to feel at ease. The mentor has to put all efforts to ensure that the protégé feels that he/she is the most important person in the room. Unconditional positive regard for feelings right from the gestation stage of the relationship is what can create a long standing impact of positivity setting the pace for a good kinship.

There is no right or wrong approach to build a great mentoring kinship. Using these components as pointers each mentor can devise a plan for rapport building based on what the mentoring objective is. What is the approach that you want to adopt?

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Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor – Assuaging Proteges Apprehensions

I have a friend whose favorite pastime is scuba diving. I am scared of water and can never get myself to go for a swim , forget diving. Fear is a very subjective emotion. What one fears may sound like a joke to another. Mentoring however is a partnership where both the mentor and the protege need to understand each other’s emotional framework and use this learning as the foundation for the mentoring superstructure.

If I’m asked to give one top tip on how to be a mentor then I would say – assuage protege’s apprehensions.

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Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor – Lend A Listening Ear

Most of us would listen patiently to our spouses or to our kids. But we hardly have the same patience at work. Leaders who have been given a “C” in listening at work transform into attentive listeners when their eight years comes home with a complaint about a fight with the neighbor’s kid.

In fact most people become active listeners with kids totally devoid of fake attitudes and stripped of ego. Why is it that we are different with our kids? One reason could be the level of importance we attribute to the other person. A top tip to mentors – lend a listening ear.

A mentor should give the mentee the importance they deserve. Most of our problems in communication arise from our inability to listen well. When an individual is unable to offer undivided attention to a conversation , finer details which are important may be missed out.

This in turn impacts the flow of the conversation and reduces its overall effectiveness. What needs to be done is to consciously conclude that every conversation is important and deserves the same level of listening.

Listening is vital to a fruitful mentoring program. If the mentor is able to listen well and design questions based on the answers of earlier ones , then the conversation progresses in the right direction.

The rapt attention of the mentor also conveys the message of the level of importance the process holds to the mentor to the protege , which in turn would increase the value perception of the exercise in his mind. Dedicated listening would required the mentor to put away all other burning issues in the back burner during the course of the mentoring program and focus totally on the “now”.

One way to distract yourself from distractions and focus on the task at hand is to convince yourself that there is nothing that is more important. Imagine that you have always wanted to meet Bill Gates. If you were to get five minutes with someone as important as him would you be distracted by what’s happening on the personal or professional front. Imagine that the mentoring program that you have undertaken in something similar, Treat it with the same priority and give it the importance you would give for a meeting with your “hero”.

If you are genuinely pre-occupied, and feel that you may not be able to offer undivided attention to the mentee, then communicate the same and keep the session at a time when you can concentrate fully on the exercise without giving it a grudge.

Make it obvious to the protege through either the conversation or body language that you are listening. You could ask your protege to point it out to you if at any point in time they feel you may be distracted. Give them the freedom and acknowledge the fact when being pointed out with a smile. This will take the conversation to a different level altogether. It would also be good to reiterate what the protege said just to ensure that the message has been received in the right note. This will ensure complete understanding of each other.

Read this space for more tips of effective mentoring.

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Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor – Socrates Mentoring Secret – The Art Of Questioning

Socrates , who is always synonymous with great teaching, never walked into a “class”( if you can call it that) with a text book or a power point presentation. His teaching was about asking the right questions and deciphering answers from listening to the answers. The right question sets the brain thinking, evokes curiosity and grows wisdom.

This is why the Socratic method is what mentors should master. And mind you, this is an art- something which has to be consciously cultivated. A question that seeks to build understanding would just unleash a powerful chain of activities than foster discovery making the mentoring experience much more enriching. A tip to every mentor is to follow Socrates mentoring secret – master the art of questioning.

The best way to ask the right question is to make a statement. The statement should be able to convey the message of understanding , reassuring the protege that the mentor is on the same wavelength and should also set the context for the discussion. In doing so , the mentor communicates to the protege that homework has been done and sets the background for the discussion. It also makes the protege less defensive, which would clearly not have been the case if a question was asked.

The right question is never information seeking . The purpose of questioning is to create a framework for thinking and self –discovery and hence the questions should be framed so as to evoke higher level thinking. Open – ended questions can be used in such a way that inspires the protege to think deep , develop clear understanding , which is perceived by the mentee as useful and implementable.

Have you noticed the way people respond to questions that open with “why”? These questions have the capacity to instantly evoke two types of reactions. One is to get people to retract into their cocoons, while the other is to make them defensive. Either does not work in mentoring. If questions are being asked to foster smoother and transparent interaction, then it is best to shy away from “why” .

The reason is that why is always associated with being judgemental and vindictive. Even if the “why” is asked calmly, it always triggers defensive hormones . Ask questions that let people forget themselves and involve themselves into trying to find answers.

A “right” question is never one which is asked for the sake of asking. It is important to design questions that lead the protege closer to his goal. The objective of the mentoring exercise  should be where each question asked should point towards.

In doing so , the mentor helps the protege find answers on their own, instilling confidence and courage in them. It is also important to ask probing questions. The aim is not to diverge , but to converge and hence one question should lead to another , the series culminating at the objective.

If you look at great mentors, Jesus, Buddha, Aristotle one thing that is common to them was that they were all curious- strong believers that there is scope for learning everywhere. It is this curiosity in them that helped them evoke curiosity in their proteges by asking the right questions. Questions are the diamonds in mentoring. But to frame the right questions it is important to listen to the answers. Read on to know why mentors need to practice active listening.

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Top Tips On How To Be A Mentor- Acceptance The Key To Courage in Mentoring

Mentoring is learning in its rawest form. A one –to – one process the protege stands fully exposed and vulnerable making it a highly awkward and embarrassing experience. And the partnership is not one that assures success adding to the discomfort. However true learning can happen only when people move out of their comfort zone.

For an adult this is easier said than done. The whole thought of budging from the comfort zone creates a feeling of panic – generally arising from the risk of failure. But then success is always an end product of multiple failures. On top tip for being a mentor is to foster acceptance which is the key to courage in mentoring.

The mentor has to instill the courage in the mentee to fight battles , take failure at face value, learn from them and move on till the destination is reached. Courage is a virtue which cannot be given but needs to be found.

Every individual has courage hidden in the realms of their personality and the mentor just helps the protege to unearth it. This can be done through unconditional acceptance of the protege- displaying utmost respect , support and regard to everything that the protege does.

No facilitation can be more effective than personal example. The mentor instills courage and confidence in the mind of the protégé by displaying the traits in every aspects of the partnership.  The mentor becomes a prototype demonstrating whatever is expected from the protégé during the mentoring session.

A protege who is reluctant to change may take this as a cue, since the demonstration clearly indicates the resulting transformation. Getting the protege to teach the mentor something that they are not aware of is an example of a confidence building exercise. Partnering in exercises can be another way of instilling courage.

A protege always sees the mentor as a critical judge of their capabilities and dwells on the fear that their weaknesses are going to explode at some point of time. In fact , for the protege the exercise is most often a long wait for “that” dreaded moment.

Every comment or passing statement that a mentor makes, irrespective of how genuine it is may be viewed critically. This is why mentors must master the art of judgement free communication. Using a warm tone of acceptance in every message can work as an antidote to the insecurities lurking in the minds of the protege.

Every word should reaffirm the fact that the protege is normal and legitimate in their views and that those are being accepted unconditionally. The mentor gets to the same level as the protege by being transparent in their communication and by making their vulnerabilities visible.

However , this should not be misread as patronizing. Any affirmation or appreciation that a mentor offers to a mentee has to be rational, supported by ample proof. The communication should be objective as well as factual and straightforward. The key is to encourage the mentee to come out with solutions by framing questions the right way.

Read on to know how to frame the right questions to enrich the mentoring experience.

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