Stephen R. Covey

July 17, 2012

Stephen R. Covey was probably best known as the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Covey’s passing was announced in the media yesterday.  And while his broad smile and positive approach to personal development and leadership will be missed, Covey will continue to touch the lives of others through his writings and teachings.

One of the skills that I strive to pass along when training new mentors and mentees is active listening.  Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  So true!  It’s a simple skill that each of us can focus on and improve.  Let’s take the time to really listen to those around us – our co-workers, family members, mentors, and mentees.  It’s amazing how relationships are strengthened and how much we can learn and do when we actively listen!


Women and Mentoring Feedback

June 14, 2012

Mentors and mentees in a local mentoring program recently provided feedback on their mentoring experience over this past year.  The value of mentoring was highly rated by both the mentors and the mentees.  As always, high number ratings were gratifying to see, but the comments offered the most insight.  One mentee found value in “having time set aside to discuss the issues I have with my work-life balance and business challenges with a neutral third party.”  Said one mentor, “I felt like I was able to provide meaningful advice that was helpful during a time of change within her organization.”  And their biggest challenge over this past year?  Finding the time (or making the time) to meet was mentioned most often by both mentors and mentees.  Surprised?  I’m not.  However, there are so many ways that mentors and mentees can connect and still have a meaningful relationship without taking large chunks of time away from other priorities.  I enjoyed hearing from the mentor who told me that they always walk when they talk, multi-tasking whenever they meet.

Women and Mentoring

May 2, 2012

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with a mentoring program for women.  This particular mentoring program consists of women mentoring other women.  Currently, there are 60+ women involved in the program.  We are now in the process of training new mentees and new mentors to be matched.  Some of these women are building careers in large corporations.  Some of the women are making a difference for others while employed in non-profit organizations.  Many are bravely striking out on their own as women entrepreneurs, starting their own businesses under tough economic conditions.

Two observations stand out for me from this experience.  First, the quality of the talent, knowledge, and experience that all of these women are willing to share is truly impressive.  They inspire me!  Second, there are many more women who could benefit from the opportunity to develop personally and professionally through a mentoring experience.  They motivate me to do more!

University Mentoring

March 20, 2012

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education.  This morning’s posts contained two articles concerning mentoring.

In the first article, “An Australian University Boosts Retention With Mentoring”, the university now has a student-led mentoring program after research found that 95% of the students who dropped out before graduation had not talked with anyone.  As a result of the mentoring program, an estimated 300 students are prevented from dropping out each year, saving approximately $3.2 million (US) in tuition.  It makes me wonder about what we are doing here in the US.  President Obama has made increased college graduation rates a priority.  Everyone thinks it is going to cost more money.  Has anyone thought of using a personal approach as part of the solution?

The second article, “Midcareer Mentoring, Part I” explores the need for career guidance for tenured faculty.  It seems that mentoring programs for those new to the profession are common, but those who have several years of experience face complications within their professional lives such as research, publishing, required service work, administration positions, and exploration of other positions at other institutions.  Usually, there is no one to confide in or to turn to for advice.  Why is that, and how can mentoring programs help these professionals who are areas of influence continue to reach their full potential?  (I guess I’ll have to watch for Part II.)

Spring Fever!

March 19, 2012

Those of us living in eastern Wisconsin have had the most amazing weather!  Technically, the calendar still says Winter, but the weather has been saying Spring.  Many people are expecting the normal freezing, cold weather with lots of heavy wet snow to descend on us any day now.  However, I’ve chosen to just enjoy these days of sunshine, warmth, and low heating bills.  I’m energized!  I’m cleaning closets, raking the lawn, and prepping my mountain bike.  I’m also using this time to complete winter mentoring projects, refresh meetings with my mentee, and prepare for the next meeting with my mentor.  Spring is the time of renewal and growth.  Explore the possibilities of personal growth through mentoring!

P.S.  Tomorrow is the first day of Spring!  Really!!

Mentoring Through Social Media – Part II

March 1, 2012

I have a love/hate affair with social media, as mentioned in my previous blog.  For me, mentoring is personal.  One of my challenges with putting mentoring out in social media is finding a way to personalize the interchange so a mentoring relationship can be formed and flourish.   For many people, mentoring = 1:1, face-to-face contact.  (I am one of those people.)  I do belong to an online mentoring network, but I haven’t seen any action there for some time.  To find out more, I posted a challenge question to the group.

I asked, “How helpful is this LinkedIn mentoring group for you?  As a learning and development professional with a passion for mentoring, I would to like hear from students and other alumni.  How can we get involved to make a difference for all of you?”  Three days went by with no response.  I tried again.  This time I said, “In my post last week, I said that I would like to hear from students and alumni, but the silence is deafening so far.”  Then, about a dozen comments streamed in – all from alumni, one of who was actually matched with a student!  There were lots of good suggestions for how to get more students involved.  As a result, we were assured by the group facilitator that we would be seeing some changes.  But how useful will it be, really?  We’ll see…

Mentoring Through Social Media – Part I

February 18, 2012

Social media is one of those things that I either love or hate – sometimes both.  There’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest.  Social media is a great way to keep in touch, make new virtual connections, and explore ideas.  However, there are days when it takes up way too much of my time.  This past week, I was touched when someone that worked with me several years ago reached out to me via one of those social media.  His message said that he just wanted to thank me for having made a difference for him.  He had some other very nice things to say.  His kind comments were humbling and gave me pause.  Am I making the best use of all the tools available to me to advance mentoring now?  I know I could be a more active participant in an online mentoring group that I belong to.  (Have I been too busy exploring Pinterest?)  I could post more of my mentoring materials to this blog.  I know for certain that I will do what Don did for me, and that is to thank some of the people who made a difference as mentors for me!  Other ideas?!!

Facebook’s COO

February 6, 2012

A New York Times article this last weekend, entitled, “The $1.6 Billion Woman, Staying on Message”, featured Sheryl K Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  The article points out that Sheryl, who is positioned to become a billionaire with the upcoming Facebook IPO, takes every opportunity she can to encourage women to enter and promote themselves in business and technology.  I’ve viewed some of her presentations on YouTube.  Sheryl is a dynamic speaker and an advocate for mentoring.  She herself has been mentored as she climbed various corporate ladders, and she actively mentors other young women in their careers.  However, her real message is more than mentoring.  Sheryl is a strong a role model for women who want to put business strategy and personal goals to work for themselves.  Mentoring is one of the tools to assist in that process.

National Mentoring Month

January 30, 2012

President Obama declared January to be National Mentoring Month.  As a result, mentoring has been highlighted in many ways throughout the month.  I especially appreciated hearing personal success stories from several mentors and mentees during the month.  But, hey, January is almost over!  (How did that happen?)  Mentoring goes on all year – not just in January!  Mentors will continue to share their knowledge and experience to guide and coach others; while mentees will continue to seek out individuals who can contribute to their personal and professional development.  If you’re not in a mentoring relationship now, feel free to contact me to find out how you can get involved as a mentor or mentee – or both.  Don’t wait until next January.  The amount of time and effort is small, but the rewards are great!

Mentors Needed

January 20, 2012

The daughter of one of my friends had wanted to become a nurse ever since she was a little girl.  Upon her college graduation, Lindsey (not her real name) was accepted into the nursing program at a large prestigious hospital.  She recently left after only one year.  My friend says that there was a sink-or-swim attitude among the more experienced nurses at the hospital which made a difficult job even more stressful.  She says that if Lindsey had had a mentor to provide guidance regarding hospital procedures and culture, she might still be there.

Our local newspaper, The Post-Crescent, just featured an editorial regarding the upcoming retirement of baby boomers and the hiring of new employees to replace them.  The potential numbers are huge!  For example, 1/3 of the public school teachers in our local area could retire in the next 10 years.  The editorial suggested mentoring as a way to transfer teaching skills and knowledge to the next generation of teachers with minimal cost.  The article stated that industries around the country could benefit if mentoring was implemented for knowledge transfer.

What about your community and your workplace?  It’s time to establish mentoring programs now – before more valuable people and knowledge are lost!