eMusings Newsletter


         VOLUME THREE, ISSUE 9    


3 Human Elements


A couple of years ago, a screenwriter wrote a provocative piece in the Village Voice entitled "I Will Not Read Your (expletive) Script." You have to get past the intentional overuse of the expletive throughout the article in order to get his point. He went out of his way to read something for someone he didn't know (a friend of a friend). Turns out a guy cornered him at a party and asked him to read a two page treatment...which turned out to be really awful. After spending more time on crafting a response to the two pages than he spends on most script rewrites, he sent what he considered to be a brief, thoughtful message to someone who, in his opinion, simply didn't have the chops to be a writer. The response to the critique was a terse "Thanks for your opinion." A week later came the fallout when the screenwriter discovered that the would-be writer was badmouthing him to mutual friends. The upshot of the experience was the article and a promise never to read another script, except as required by his job. Another potential mentor bit the dust.


When my partner and I were still writing TV comedy, we developed a mentor-like relationship with a wonderful writer named Daniel Tarradash. While we were at the very beginning of our career, Dan was at the end of his. An Academy Award winning writer for "From Here to Eternity," Dan's phone had stopped ringing in the "youth is everything" environment of Hollywood. Luckily for us, he was a still-charming and generous man who gave freely of his time and advice. We always took his advice and were respectful of his time. In other words, we tried to be good mentees.  


Being a good mentee is pretty basic. Are you open to constructive feedback? Do you use the information your mentor gives you appropriately? Are you clear on expectations? (What do you anticipate receiving from your mentor and what are they willing to give?) Do you respect the mentor's time? When the occasion to move on comes, how will you leave the relationship on positive terms?


Mentors can be invaluable but much of their success depends on our own abilities to be good mentees. What kind of mentee are you? It might be time for a check-in.


 Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner, BoldWork  
In This Issue
Mentoring: What's Old is New Again
Everybody Needs a Little Help
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"Mentoring: What's Old is New Again" by Rebecca Ripley                                           

(634 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)


To create a vital and healthy WorkClimate, people must experience a workplace where continuous learning and development is valued, encouraged and most importantly, actualized in everyday worklife.  This month we highlight the power of Mentoring and the many benefits this honored practice brings to both mentors and mentees and the organizations in which they work. 


Mentoring is gaining popularity again, and while the premise remains essentially the same, it's different. What's changed? The most profound change is that employees at all levels are encouraged to get mentors - and the trend is to find multiple mentors.  You can't count on just one person to guide your career.  We all need to tap into diverse resources. 


Mentoring Brings Buckets of Benefits


man being coachedAt its core, mentoring is a relationship in which one person, the mentor, facilitates the professional development of another, the "mentee."  Why do companies encourage it?  Because it works.  The numbers don't lie. 

  • 15-30% retention increase on average.
  • 75% of executives point to it as a contributor to their promotions (ASTD).
  • It promotes development in diverse areas: career, leadership, technical, and life effectiveness.
  • It results in increased job satisfaction for both mentor and mentee.

 Organizations promote benefits to mentors, as well. They can expect to get:

  • Reengaged as they translate values, experiences and strategies into productive actions;
  • Satisfaction from developing others; and 
  • Grateful, appreciative mentees who expand mentors' points of view by helping them see things from different perspectives.

For the mentee, there are obvious benefits: 

  • Expanded personal network;
  • A sounding board for testing ideas and plans;
  • Positive and constructive feedback on professional and personal development;
  • Increased self-awareness and self-discipline; and
  • Accelerated development and growth.

Engagement Enriched within Budget


Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, who leads KPMG's diversity and corporate social responsibility strategy, believes that most successful people were impacted by a mentor. Her mentoring equation is fairly simple: E + A = I + R.  In other words, engagement and accountability equals impact and results. Given the current emphasis on employee engagement, mentoring is an inexpensive development option.  It takes time and commitment, not dollars.  


The good news is that even if your company doesn't have a formal mentoring program, you can reach out on your own.  Be clear about your needs and expectations so potential mentors know how much of a commitment they're making.   


Setting the Stage and Preparing to Mentor


mentoring collageThough a mentor may be a peer, most often a mentor is a person at least one level higher in the organization who is not within the mentee's direct supervisory line of management.  A mentor-mentee relationship focuses on developing the mentee professionally and personally. As such, the mentor does not evaluate the mentee with respect to his or her current job and does not provide input about salary increases and promotions.  This creates a safe learning environment, where the mentee feels free to discuss issues openly and honestly, without worrying about negative consequences on the job.


Mentoring is one-to-one exploration of careers, possibilities and challenges.  It's about relationship-building and trust.  It's less about giving advice and more about guiding people through their decision making process.  It's about sharing resources and networks, creating a safe learning environment for taking risks, and challenging mentees to move beyond their comfort zone.   


The Reward is in Unleashing the Potential of Others


Does mentoring pique your interest?  Are you willing to share your skills, knowledge and expertise? Are you willing to take a personal interest in others and provide candid feedback? If so, mentoring may be perfect for you.  You'll find it's an opportunity to "give back," help an "up and comer" navigate organizational whitewater, and reenergize your own career as well.  Every seasoned mentor knows that there's nothing quite as rewarding as helping people develop and maximize their potential.



"Everybody Needs a Little Help" by Janice Criddle 

(549 words - estimated reading time: 2 minutes)

In keeping with the discussion about mentoring, I thought I would share one of my personal experiences.  I worked for an amazing company that put concerted effort into creating and sustaining a vital WorkClimate where all employees had the opportunity to do BoldWork.  This is just one example of the kind of leadership I experienced there.


2 business women meetingI was young and naive and had no idea that I had a mentor.  How lucky can you get?  I was working as a Regional Employee Relations Representative for a fortune 100 company.  My career moved along wonderfully and it wasn't until later that I discovered I had a mentor who had been facilitating from behind the scenes.  She had insured my involvement in key projects and smoothed over volatile political situations to help keep me on "the fast track."  This was further proof of what I already knew.Leadership was encouraged to actively participate in succession planning and career development as part of their responsibility to facilitate a healthy WorkClimate.


At some point I had an "aha" moment.  I realized this woman was a mentor and I became more engaged in the process as I learned how it worked. This wasn't a formal mentoring relationship. There were no program goals, schedules, training initiatives or evaluations.She provided feedback, helped me understand the culture/political landscape of the organization, recommended strategies and provided a lot of moral support.   


Having a mentor is essential. Whether you are new to your job or have established yourself as high-potential, the experts now recommend that each of us have more than 1 and less than 10 diversified mentors for maximum effectiveness.


When my career began to hit a ceiling (not the glass one, the geographical one), she came through again by helping me find a sponsor.  I didn't even know those existed!  Catalyst CEO Ilene H. Lang defines a sponsor as someone 'on the inside'. It's a person with clout who can advocate for you behind closed doors, fight for you to get great opportunities and spread the word about your achievements.  "That's perfect for her, she's ready," a sponsor might say or "Let's give her a shot."


I ended up with an amazing sponsor who was able to negotiate a year-long development process that allowed me to transition from an HR professional to a front-line customer service manager in a male-dominated technical division.  


We know from research that women with mentors reported 27% higher salary growth than those without a mentor. Men seeking their first MBA job were 93% more likely to be placed at mid-manager level or above than men without a mentor.  And while there is still a gender gap (women in that same category reported only a 56% advantage), the prediction is that the gap will close as more women enter the executive suite, and as more cross-pollination occurs.


Early in my career, I benefited from the efforts of others who reached back to help me do BoldWork.  What's happening for you?  Does your organization have a formal mentoring program?  Are you being mentored, even if informally?  Do you have someone to champion you when it's decision-making time?  


Or are you in a position to be a mentor and/or sponsor?  If you are, there is certainly someone who can use a little help.  



boldworklogoAt BoldWork, we specialize in helping businesses and organizations optimize the performance of the people who work for them.

Typically, our clients come to us when they are seeking to change, to solve problems or to challenge a status quo that no longer works. Most importantly, they call us when they want to create a WorkClimate that increases motivation and strengthens employee engagement.

Please take a moment and visit our website at www.doboldwork.com to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at info@doboldwork.com