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

HR Consulting: What Works (And What Doesn’t)

Over the past 6 months I’ve been talking to a few friends and colleagues who have moved (or in the process of moving) from internal permanent HR positions to the exciting world of consulting.
I must admit, there is a part of me that’s pretty jealous – I’m risk adverse in nature and love the idea of being able to stick with my employer for a long period of time. It does help of course that I have a great employer, but to be fair, a lot of these friends have come from really positive work environments as well and have still wanted to spread their wings.
It used to be there was some stigma around self employed consultants in the HR space – this largely wasn’t helped by (hopefully, now outdated) sales methods of trying to convince every potential client that they needed the package with all the bells and whistles coming to 3x the amount of budget available per year for such services.
The recent change towards conscious consulting – ethical consultants who are genuinely fantastic at what they do and are eager to make life better for the people that make up organisations – has meant a rapid change in the way I, as a permanent employee in a relatively small People & Culture team, engage with consultants.
No longer do I feel the need to decline every invite for coffee, terrified of being hounded for months on end for business that I genuinely don’t have the budget to purchase. I am lucky enough to deal with a variety of consultants who I can call on with a quick question, who value the relationship, and who – when I have a piece of work – I don’t hesitate in getting in touch and completely trusting their judgement as to the best solution for the issue I have.
It’s these types of consultants in the L&D, HR, Project Management and Change Management spaces that I hope signify a shift in the way that the industry is headed. I love the trait that so many of these people share which is a genuine desire to see people, and organisations, succeed and grow. Rather than being concerned with ‘filling time’ or ‘seeming busy’ they are results oriented – which can be a change from stagnant HR teams which seem to be focused on the rules and putting blocks in the business’s way.
I’m lucky to work in a dynamic People & Culture team with great people – but many HR roles do not operate in this environment. Some people (who are incredible operators) really flourish with the freedom (and associated risk) which comes from the nature of a consultancy role. The ability of great consultants to give difficult advice, effectively manage really difficult change process and focus on their real strengths means that those of us in internal roles can bring in a pair of fresh eyes when needed and target people with the specialist skills when required.
I can’t say I’ve got a desire to become one of these fantastic people – but it is time that those of us in internal roles really embrace the conscious consultant, and in doing so, ensure that the values our organisations live by are reflected the people that we do business with.
Leadership

Storytelling: People with a Passion for Making a Difference

Yesterday I attended the YMCA Victoria / AFL SportsReady joint program graduation for a group of leaders within the YMCA. The participants are concluding their YMCA Leadership Stage 2 Certificate jointly with a Diploma in Management and presented their group projects to their peers and guests from the wider organisation.
It was pretty awesome – and I’m not just saying that an impressed colleague – the projects and initiatives presented were genuinely fantastic!
The projects included a joint, best practise Post Natal Depression Program Pilot; combining established programs with an excercise component designed to reduce chances of relapse from 38% (medication only) to 8% (excercise only). Another initiative was around a YMCA Victoria app designed to engage local communities and increase and participation in health and excercise opportunities  – with huge potential to connect more with our members, communities, staff and volunteers.
What I took out of the sessions was a passion that our people have to make their community and workplace better for everyone. It’s the dream of everyone that works in People & Culture to have such engaged and passionate people – and I’m incredibly lucky to work for an organisation that is full of those people.
The challenge for us is getting better at telling our stories, the successes, ideas and passion that our people have for making a difference. Something that doesn’t always come easy to us is shouting the great things that we do from the rooftops; but it’s in that storytelling that we inspire others to make a difference. The sharing of ideas, projects, solutions and passion make it easier for us all to make changes for the better.

#SoMe

Social Media & Connectedness In Times of Crisis

This past week has been fairly brutal. On Monday Australia was on tenterhooks as an unknown amount of people were taken hostage by a lone gunman in what has now been called the #SydneySiege.

Tuesday morning we woke up to the news that two hostages and the hostage taker had been killed as police stormed the building.

While horrific events play out daily on a global scale (just today news reached us that a gut-wrenching 141 were killed in an attack on a Peshawar school), it is often the events closer to home that shock and devistate us the most. This is human nature, when people who have lives similar to own (however we may perceive that) are caught up in events that terrify us, our reactions are often much stronger than when it seems ‘far away’.

When the Sydney Siege news broke Monday morning I was at work. Computers switched to streaming coverage of the events unfolding, tablets and phones were constantly refreshing the big news sites. Loved ones were being contacted via text messaging and group messages were being shared on FaceBook.

#illridewithyou badges

I was on Twitter where the #SydneySiege and #MartinPlace hashtags were trending, and soon there was #illridewithyou which now, brings a tear to my eye as it reminded me of the generosity and goodness in people that we often forget as we are quick to anger in times of turmoil.

In hard times, we seek connectedness.

I’m lucky (ok, its not all luck, my workplaces awesome culture was a big reason I took on my current position,) that I work for an organisation that recognises the power of #SoMe. We have a work FaceBook closed group where the Chief Executive shared incredibly powerful words about how we decide to act going forward and how that will define us. (You can scroll down to Peter Burns’ post on the YMCA Victoria FaceBook page posted 3.37pm 16 December 2014).

We use social media to connect, to learn, to build our community, and in difficult times the connectedness we get from these forums means that we grow, learn and heal with each other.

If you’ve fostered the right culture you don’t need to be worried that your people are misusing these tools; because connected, engaged, productive people will exibit those behaviours online too.

I’m so grateful that I could check in on friends in Sydney on Monday. I’m glad that I got to witness #illridewithyou on Tuesday. And I’m a more connected member of my community because of it.