Leadership, Personal brand

Mentoring is AWESOME!

I woke up this morning and felt incredibly… lucky. Lucky that I am excited to go to work. Lucky that I enjoy my career and I get to work for an organisation I believe in. Lucky that I have been fortunate enough to have some incredible mentors throughout my career.

(In case you can’t tell, I quite like my job)

In retrospect, the availability of a mentor (which has quite often been a manager for me – but not always) who is invested in my career and development has been the key factor in whether I’ve loved where I work or not. It’s not always about the sexiness of the company – one of the most enjoyable places I ever worked was the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department. This wasn’t because of the focus on tax, but due to the excellent group of people I worked with and the incredible managers I had while I was there.

mentoring is awesome

As well as having benefited a huge amount from some mentors who have been very generous with their time, I’ve also been engaged as a mentor myself – it is an incredibly rewarding thing to do. The success of the relationship (whether it’s an informal or formal relationship) is very dependent on the mentee being proactive, understanding what they want out of the relationship and giving adequate thought to the ask that is placed on the mentor. When I’ve seen formal mentorships break down it is almost always linked to a mismatch of expectations. In saying this – the right attitude of the mentor is also critical: you aren’t creating a mini-me or giving all the answers, you’re giving someone the benefit of your perspective and helping them figure out the journey for themselves.

Acknowledging what both parties can learn from each other is also key – this isn’t a one-way relationship. Many organisations now are seeing the value in setting up ‘reverse mentoring’ programs where executives are mentored by younger employees – often with a particular focus on technology or emerging fields.

Forbes had a great article from 2011 (which is still just as relevant today) which detailed how becoming a mentor can develop your own career. This article references research from Sun Microsystems who found that mentors were 6x more likely to be promoted to a bigger job.

Six times!!!

Mentoring isn’t just great for individuals; MicroMentor cites research which states that mentored businesses increased their income during their programs of up to 83% (compared to non-mentored businesses that increased revenue by 16%).

Your Challenge:

My challenge to you? Commit to becoming a mentor, or being a mentee in the coming year. Whichever path you take commit to reflecting on your journey as you go, whether it’s through a journal, your Outlook or another method, and come back to it at the end of the year. I guarantee that if you have an open mind the amount you can learn through this process is almost limitless.

Thinking differently, Working in People & Culture

Mediocracy? Or Disruption?

Let’s be honest. Nearly all of us in the ‘people’ space (whether that’s HR, recruitment, learning or management) like to think we can effect some real change.
No one wants to go to work day after day and feel like they haven’t accomplished anything.
But lots of us do just that.
We like to think that we think like disruptors, but actually we are a bit more like lemmings… we think about big change but then when it comes down to it and it all gets too hard we just follow the pack.
For this reason, the people and organisations that actually do disrupt make noise! There’s a reason why tech start ups get so much press in the employment space – the ones we hear about are doing big things, disrupting industries and changing the game both in their field and in the employment space.
You have to have heard of Zappos & it’s holacracy, Google & its benefits, Virgin & their unlimited leave… it’s forward thinking companies like these that are changing the norm, and the expectations of potential employees.
But for more organisations to move in this direction – where the ‘norm’ doesn’t dictate expectations? More disruptors are needed.
You don’t have to be working at Google to be a disruptor. But you do need to be motivated, reflective (and self-aware) and have the ability to think outside the box.
Recently I attended a 99U Local event in Melbourne hosted by Dr Jason Fox & the Centre for Workplace Leadership – it was pretty amazing. And it was filled with disruptors who were looking to activate in the creative space.
I picked up some great tips for how I might become more effective at what I do, the highlights for me were:
  • Get up early – my brain is in the best space then
  • Make my important decisions in the morning, the sooner the better
  • Get out and do it. Commit. Be prepared to back myself.
My challenge to you is: How do you want to effect change? What will make you a better disruptor to create that change? Write it down, key in a buddy who has their own goals and will help you stay accountable to yours.
What have we got to loose? Mediocracy? lemmings