Mentoring: Are You Building a Culture of Connection and Growth?

Sponsored by Together

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mentoring is a key to the future of work. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact. I’ve been beating the mentorship drum for over a decade. Yet, I’ve never been as confident about it as I am today. And I hope employers are listening. Why?

The Business Case for Mentoring

All the signs point to mentorship as one of the most powerful ways to navigate increasingly turbulent workplace waters. Here are just a few proof points:

  • Pandemic-era job disruption has created knowledge and skill gaps across many organizations.
  • Even before the pandemic, average job tenure was shrinking among all age groups.
  • Managers and senior-level leaders are moving on and opting out at a record pace.
  • Younger people are looking for more guidance and support as they enter the workforce.
  • Demand for future-ready employees is intensifying as organizations continue to invest in new technologies.
  • The average half-life of skills continues to decline.
  • Many employers are still struggling to find qualified talent for critical open roles.

With 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies already offering mentoring programs, this seems like the right time to double down on that strategy. Why? Consider these research findings:

  • 90% of employees with a mentor say they’re happy at work.
  • 75% of executives give mentors credit for their success.
  • People with mentors are significantly less likely to consider quitting. This includes managers, senior managers, vice presidents, and individual contributors.
  • Among millennials, 68% who stay onboard for 5 or more years have a mentor, compared with 32% who don’t.
  • In fact, one Wharton-led study found much higher retention among mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than among those who did not participate in these programs (49%).

But here’s the kicker: While 76% of people say mentors are important, only 37% actually have one. Is your organization facing this issue? You may be able to bridge the gap more easily than you think. For helpful ideas, read on…

Advice for Mentoring Program Success

Let’s start by clarifying a key point. Mentoring, alone, is not the answer. Organizations really need to aim higher by developing a culture of learning. However, one of the most effective ways to foster this kind of environment is through mentoring in all its forms.

So where should employers start to establish or enhance mentorships? One of the smartest sources I know is Matt Reeves. Matt is CEO of Together Software, a platform that helps companies run best-in-class mentoring programs. Early in 2022, Matt joined me to discuss mentoring strategies on our #WorkTrends podcast. To hear his advice, listen to this encore version of our conversation and read the show notes below…

How Mentoring Works

1. Defining Mentorship

So tell us, Matt, what does mentoring look like to you?

In its traditional sense, mentoring is based on pairing two colleagues for career development and professional guidance. Usually, this involves a more junior employee who’s the mentee with a more senior employee who’s the mentor. And typically, they meet on a particular cadence, like once a month for a year or even more.

2. Evolving Trends

How are mentorship programs changing?

We’ve seen companies break the mold and experiment with various types of  programs. But the common thread is that they help employees learn from their colleagues through relationship-building and ongoing conversations.

3. Mentorship Variations

What are some of the different flavors you’re seeing in mentorship programs?

The classic approach is one-on-one, where a more senior person mentors a more junior person for a specific period.

However, peer-to-peer programs are increasingly popular. Also, we’re seeing more reverse programs, where a more junior-level person who is experienced in a particular topic mentors a more senior employee.

In addition, many organizations are successfully breaking the mold with the duration of these relationships and in offering participants more flexibility.

4. Benefits of Mentoring

It may seem obvious why mentees are attracted to these relationships. But it helps mentors, too. In fact, more than 90% of professionals who’ve mentored young people say it has helped them become better leaders or managers…

Yes. It’s probably easy to understand why a mentee would want to participate — to learn, develop, and progress in their career. But mentors benefit, as well.

Senior-level people are expected to develop others and carry their organization’s culture forward, and mentoring is an opportunity to visibly demonstrate this. Also, as people move up in an organization, they’ve probably experienced some mentoring (or wish they had a mentor). So this is a way to give back.

5. How Technology Enhances the Mentoring Experience 

What role can technology play in bringing people together and keeping them connected?

Technology significantly reduces the workload for program administrators, while significantly improving the mentoring experience for participants.

For example, when a program is managed manually, making a strong mentee/mentor match can take a long time. When you’re eager to move forward, it can be frustrating to wait for weeks or even months for a suitable match. You may even be matched with a mentor who has left the organization. This is easily avoidable when you use technology.

In addition, technology can help you scale a program much more efficiently, and keep people connected with reminders and feedback that helps them stay on-track and helps you tweak your program.

Tips for Modern Mentorship Programs

What else should you keep in mind if you want to achieve strong mentoring results, especially in today’s hybrid work environments? When building a game plan, keep these considerations in mind:

1. Assess Your Current State as a Baseline

With or without a formal program in place, mentoring is probably already happening all over your company. It often occurs organically, the same way culture exists, with or without intentional leadership involvement.

So start with a broad-reaching reality check. Research and evaluate the various ways people share knowledge, skills, and experience, and assist others professionally. What seems to be most effective? Can you leverage these methods? Alternatively, what isn’t working well? Does it make sense to provide additional resources that can reinforce, enhance, and expand what’s already in place?

2. Clarify and Communicate the Purpose

When people understand why mentoring is important to your company, they’re more likely to sign up and take responsibility for their role in its success. But there are many ways to frame mentoring initiatives. What goals do you want to accomplish? How closely do your objectives align with your organization’s values? What would success look like for your company and for participants? For example:

  • To improve retention among new hires, incorporating mentoring into the onboarding process can provide a stronger start.
  • If employees from underrepresented groups lack a sense of inclusion and belonging, “bridge mentorships” could help you move the DEI meter.
  • Or if you need to build bench depth, peer-to-peer cross-functional skills mentoring could be a solution.

The possibilities are endless. But no matter what your agenda is, you’ll need top-down support. How committed are your senior-level executives to mentoring? How willing are they to make mentoring participation a leadership priority? What can you do to demonstrate the power of mentoring from cases within your organization or among competitors? What kind of budget and other resources will be required to achieve these goals? Engage senior leadership early in discussions that address these questions.

3. Focus on Learning and Holistic Growth

Although cohort-based social learning is a popular trend — especially in remote and hybrid work environments — one-on-one relationships can drive deeper personal growth and enrichment. Encouraging people to form stronger direct bonds opens the door to a more holistic approach, where participants can connect as individuals and grow, even outside of their professional roles.

Also, keep in mind that the most enriching approach to mentoring isn’t about “teaching” per se. Classic mentoring models emphasize a one-way flow of information, guidance, and access. However, modern mentoring relationships are often a two-way street, where both sides actively aim to learn and grow together, even if their roles and experience levels are not comparable.

4. Provide Structure Along With Flexibility

When matching a pair of participants, you’ll want to formalize expectations in a way that respects the time and effort required to establish and sustain a productive relationship.

It helps to specify basic parameters, such as the minimum mentorship duration (for example, 1 year), and minimum activity frequency (for example 1 meeting a month). However, beyond these parameters, individuals often find it helpful to negotiate their unique goals. Both sides can use this agreement as a discovery tool and as a reference point throughout the relationship.

In addition, you’ll want to encourage consistency with a reasonable ongoing communication cadence. Flexibility is key, here. Mentoring isn’t a full-time job, relationships take time to develop, and informal interactions don’t need to be regimented. However, if participants agree upfront to a minimum pace (such as 1 digital check-in a week), this can help keep the relationship top-of-mind.

5. Measure and Adjust

This may seem obvious, but unless you quantify your mentorship program’s performance, you won’t know if your organization is moving in the right direction. Ideally, you’ll establish success metrics that tie to program objectives even before you start to match participants.

However, once you launch the program, you’ll want to monitor progress regularly by measuring key performance indicators. For example, if you want to build workforce competencies in a particular set of skills, you’ll want to track active mentors and mentees for each of the skills you’re targeting. If you don’t have enough experienced mentors to fulfill mentee demand, you’ll want to recruit more mentors who are qualified in these areas. (Or you may decide to address the demand with another type of skill development intervention.)

Also, plan to seek feedback from participants periodically. Pulse surveys can help you gauge sentiment about the program and identify weaknesses that need attention. At the same time, keep in mind that mentoring is a long-term commitment. Over time, business priorities will shift. To stay ahead of the curve, you’ll want to build periodic program review cycles into the management process, so you can adjust accordingly as goals and needs change.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more in-depth information about how to structure and manage a successful mentoring program, visit the Together Platform website, where you’ll find all sorts of helpful resources for employers. And for more #WorkTrends insights, check our growing collection of episodes at Apple or Spotify and subscribe!


Should You Create an AI-Powered Talent Marketplace?

After years of upheaval that have redefined society, business and work, we’ve entered a period some call the “Great Reflection.” During this era of mindfulness, employees everywhere are reevaluating what they truly want from their career and their employer. In response, companies are investing more heavily in workforce retention strategies. For instance, the internal talent marketplace concept is rapidly gaining momentum.

Why marketplaces? CIPD research says 30% of employers intend to increase wages in 2023. This is certainly one way to show people you value them. Who wouldn’t appreciate competitive compensation? But many people are looking for deeper reasons to stay onboard. As a result, more companies are focusing on employees’ career development concerns.

According to Gallup, 76% of people are seeking opportunities for professional growth. At the same time, modern businesses know they can’t advance their agenda without a future-ready workforce.

That’s why now is a good time to invest in an internal talent marketplace. This kind of solution offers multiple pathways to develop more skilled, innovative individuals and teams. But how can you accomplish this in a way that is cost-efficient, personalized, and accessible? This is our story…

Inside a Talent Marketplace: One Example

To accelerate internal mobility, Schneider Electric, a global leader in integrated energy solutions, has developed and deployed an Open Talent Market (OTM). This marketplace leverages leading-edge technology to help retain talent and stimulate employee growth.

OTM is an AI-driven career development and internal mobility platform that matches workforce skills and ambitions to opportunities across the organization. First, employees describe their current skills and past experiences, as well as their future aspirations. Then OTM provides information about relevant open positions, part-time projects, and possible mentors.

The platform also offers career planning capabilities. For example, people can explore potential career paths and establish short-term development tracks to address immediate upskilling needs or develop new skills for the future.

How the OTM Process Works

This talent marketplace is open to all connected employees at Schneider Electric, and through pilot programs for shop floor employees who don’t have daily access to a work computer. With artificial intelligence as its backbone, OTM manages the entire experience at speed and at scale.

To get started, employees create a profile in the platform, which can be based on a LinkedIn profile or resume upload. Next, they can edit and expand their profile information, adding appropriate skills, experiences, interests and development areas. The more data an employee includes, the better the AI results will be.

Schneider Electric embraces the “3E” development framework – Experience (70%), Exposure (20%), and Education (10%). And because OTM is so easy to use, employees can independently explore upskilling and development opportunities that align with each of these learning methods.

Talent Marketplace Benefits

In addition to improving talent development and mobility, this solution has formalized the way our organization manages its internal gig economy. Now, by offering part-time projects through OTM, the company can unlock hours from employees who are eager to work on stretch assignments.

But the real beauty of this talent marketplace comes from its underlying AI, which makes it possible for anyone to discover opportunities that might not otherwise have been considered.

Too often in the past, finding a new position or mentor was all about who you knew. Now, it’s about transparency. That means everyone has access to a broader spectrum of opportunities that might not have been visible previously.

At the same time, the AI personalizes the matching process. In other words, it helps employees focus on opportunities that fit their unique skills and interests, instead of requiring them to filter through a sea of options. This levels the playing field and accelerates the talent matching process by identifying the strongest possibilities, regardless of current role or business unit.

Preparing to Support Internal Mobility

An effective talent marketplace depends on a culture that is open to internal mobility. For many organizations, this requires a significant mindset shift before and during the rollout.

At Schneider, the end goal is to retain our employees by placing them in opportunities that are best suited to their skills and help them continue to grow. This is why we strive to foster open dialogue among employees, current managers, and hiring managers about internal mobility and talent development.

To set the stage for OTM, we adjusted several key policies and procedures, and built OTM logic to support our business objectives:

Policy Changes

  • To help employees pursue new opportunities more on their terms, we’ve removed minimum “time in current role” requirements, as well as the need for a manager’s approval when applying for a new position.
  • To encourage actionable communication about opportunities, we ask internal candidates to receive feedback about any application, regardless of its outcome. In the past, this was not occurring consistently.
  • To support continuous learning and development, we request that employees dedicate 10-15% of their time to projects outside of their current role.

System Functionality

  • When using OTM for career planning, employees can see possible career paths based on several criteria, including their desired roles, typical paths that others in their current role have pursued, or whether they’re interested in moving into management. Within those paths, they can see existing open positions, as well as skill development opportunities to help prepare for future roles.
  • In addition, employees can use OTM to build shorter-term career tracks based on skills or experiences they want to gain or a specific position they want to pursue:
    • A track based on skills and experiences lets employees browse available opportunities, as well as courses offered in our learning management system.
    • A track based on positions lets employees select a specific position they’d like to pursue. Then the AI compares market data to find the skills most often applied in that role and identifies which of those skills the employee already has and indicates any gaps. The platform then suggests available projects, mentors and courses in our LMS that could help an employee fill those gaps.
  • Lastly, OTM is not a one-way street. The AI helps employees uncover matched opportunities. But it also lets recruiters and project owners discover candidates with a skill or experience needed for a position or project role. This feature required change management to ensure that our managers perceive it as a tool that enhances internal mobility, rather than “poaching.”

Talent Marketplace Results

To-date, 80,000 Schneider Electric employees are registered OTM users. And since its launch in May 2020, this solution has helped more than 26,000 employees connect with projects, positions or mentorship assignments.

OTM has been a highly effective way to actively involve employees in managing their careers. It supports people as they develop, grow, and shape their future. And it helps the organization more fully utilize talent, while strengthening engagement and retention. At Schneider, our commitment to a world-class talent marketplace is leading to a brighter future, all around.


EDITOR’S NOTE:  In developing this article, Jessica Staggs collaborated with Michele Egan, Open Talent Market Digital Transformation Lead at Schneider Electric

Developing Entry-Level Talent: How to Invest for Success

Imagine you’re a hard-working entry-level employee who’s been in your current position for less than a year. Your skills are solid, but they don’t help you stand out from other entry-level talent. You know which skills could help you advance, but you’re not sure what resources are available to you or how to get support for a growth plan. You don’t see a pathway to expand your skill set. You just feel stuck.

Sadly, this isn’t unusual. But scenarios like this can have serious consequences for employee morale, mobility, and retention across an organization. For example research says:

It’s no surprise that people look elsewhere when they believe their skills aren’t seen, valued, and nurtured. But this doesn’t need to happen. As an employer, you can avoid losing entry-level employees by investing more effectively in their future with your organization.

Where Employee Development Fits In

A comprehensive professional development program is one way to demonstrate your commitment. Upskilling, reskilling, cross-training and continuous learning practices help employees keep existing skills fresh, develop new capabilities, and expand their career potential over time.

Future-minded employers know that developing entry-level talent is not just good for employee engagement and morale. It’s also a smart business strategy because it builds “bench depth.” By encouraging employees to embrace new responsibilities and growth opportunities, you can create a more diverse internal talent pipeline that will adapt with you as your business needs change.

A commitment to developing entry-level talent also sends a powerful message from the highest levels of your organization. It tells people that every member of your workforce is important, and you’re invested in their future success.

What’s at Stake for Employers

Organizations that invest in entry-level talent realize significant benefits:

1. Higher ROI

When you’re facing workforce skill gaps, recruiting qualified talent may seem like a faster, cheaper, easier solution than employee development. But this is a short-sighted approach that doesn’t necessarily lead to a stronger team. Bringing in new talent requires multiple costly, time-consuming steps, from recruiting to interviewing to hiring. And there’s no guarantee new hires will onboard successfully and become committed contributors.

Why bet on an uncertain outcome, when you already have a team in place that you’ve worked so hard to recruit and onboard? If you spend the same amount of time and money helping existing employees grow, you’re more likely to achieve a higher return on investment.

2. Less Brain Drain

The value of institutional knowledge is also important to consider. The lower your commitment to development, the higher your turnover rate is likely to be. And as employees leave, they’ll take away “insider” intelligence about how your organization gets things done. For example, you’ll lose insight into strategies, tactics and processes that worked, as well as those that didn’t. This kind of information can make or break operational efficiency, effectiveness, cohesion, and more.

By developing entry-level talent, you can equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in your environment. Along the way, you’ll build and reinforce institutional knowledge, rather than eroding it as disenchanted employees leave.

3. Stronger Employee Value Proposition

We know people are drawn to employers that emphasize continuous professional development and growth. If your loyal workforce sees you turning to new hires instead of investing in existing employees, what should you expect to happen? Morale will sink, the desire for professional growth will vanish, and skills will stagnate. Eventually, employees will look for growth opportunities outside your organization.

Instead, why not reinvigorate your team through learning? Focus on reskilling, upskilling, and cross-skilling. It’s a more sustainable way to strengthen employee satisfaction, commitment, retention, and performance. To get started with a successful entry-level employee development program, consider these five steps:

5 Ways to Develop Entry-Level Talent

1. Establish a Reasonable Budget

Start by defining the key elements of your employee growth plan. Identify the professional development topics and skills your program should address. Any development model will involve both direct and indirect costs, and these should align with market value.

However, expenses aren’t the only consideration. You’ll also want to estimate the value of potential benefits. For example, you may choose to establish a mentorship program that pairs new hires with veteran employees. This is a relatively low-cost way to support a culture of learning, but it can lead to significant tangible results.

2. Provide Time and Resources for Employee Participation

Simply put, employees need dedicated time and support to engage in professional development. Allocate a specific number of days for this purpose — perhaps even paid time away from the office, if possible.

A little workplace flexibility goes a long way in helping talent feel valued, and giving employees choice in managing their schedules encourages accountability and self-regulation.

3. Tap Into the Power of Work Relationships

Ask entry-level employees what kind of development support they feel would be helpful. Then ask managers to co-create a roadmap with their direct reports, based on the knowledge and skills they want to develop.

Managers are likely to know how to leverage connections among team members so they can learn from one another. Research shows that these relationships matter. For example, McKinsey found that 91% of people supported by mentors are satisfied with their jobs. In addition, cohort-based learning enhances workplace communication, overall.

4. Include Team-Building Opportunities

Besides mentorship programs, consider other ways for entry-level employees to learn from teammates. Cross-departmental collaboration, for example, is an underused resource. When employees work with others and learn from one another, they can sharpen both interpersonal and job-related skills. They’re also more likely to understand the company’s inner workings and see the value in individual workplace roles.

5. Showcase Progress

For any program that demands time and energy, employees and employers alike want to see results. To reinforce the benefits of participation, plan to demonstrate how development efforts lead to professional growth, improved performance, and team success. For instance, one study of U.K. reskilling programs resulted in positive economic returns and improved morale. These are the kind of concrete results everyone appreciates.


These suggestions are intended as launching points to help you make the most of your investment in entry-level talent. With these development factors as a framework, your learning programs can make a measurable and lasting difference in workplace communication, productivity and innovation. Most importantly, this kind of investment can help you build a stronger team that will be invigorated and inspired to move forward together. Everybody wins.

The Promising Opportunities of Mentorship for Women

Mentors can teach us many things. Among those things include how to develop and enhance our professional lives. Each female can benefit from a mentor to teach her how to expand her network, accept herself, and access career satisfaction and success. Mentors can play a fundamental role in what career is chosen and the ultimate direction that is chosen in life. Studies have proven that women with mentors have increased opportunities for success than those who do not. The guidance, direction, and advice of a mentor is effective and can be life-changing for those that may not have been afforded such valuable opportunities in the past.

Personal Benefits

Mentorship, whether it occurs in or out of the workplace, has numerous personal benefits because she will have someone with greater knowledge and experience to turn to. She can be guided through solving a problem or critiquing her work. Mentorship can help an employee feel less isolated at work as well as encourage her to interact more with others, particularly new hires. Mentors can provide tips on career growth and introduce the employee to other professionals.  As the mentee matures within her career growth, a mentor may remain a valued adviser to the mentee.

Mentorship can help in defining career goals. To know where you’d like to go and to be successful; you need to know how to get there. Mentors have vast experience to help you to put a clear plan in action to get there. This vast experience also helps within navigating company policies and work politics. Mentors are valued individuals to turn to who will keep information private and confidential.

Employer Benefits

Employers directly benefit from their employees, including women, receiving mentorship. By offering a mentorship program as a component of your organization’s recruitment and onboarding process then you are sending the signal that the well-being and success of your employees is important and valued. By being invested in your employees’ personal and professional successes, you are conveying that you are willing to go the extra mile for them. An added benefit for employers is that a mentorship program allows new hires to integrate and engage within the organization more quickly, which makes the onboarding process more efficient and effective.

Mentoring empowers employees to reach their full personal and professional development as well as promotes their growth in a strategic and supportive manner, which leads to an increased return on investment per individual. Mentoring motivates and engages top-talent employees, which is important because it is your top talent that provides you with the means to build sustainable methods for talent. A targeted mentoring program that actively motivates and engages its most promising employees, which is an indispensable part of successful workforce planning and succession planning strategy is best.

Mentorship develops employee skills and qualities that remain valuable beyond the duration of the mentoring partnership. Employees in mentoring partnerships develop more competencies that they would like to acquire than those who are not. Mentorship develops leadership skills, teamwork, self-awareness, and the ability to compromise- all of which add value to your employees and your organization.

Formal mentorship programs can help with employee retention because top talent employees thrive at organizations in which they see themselves achieving their career goals and receiving the guidance that they need to grow as professionals and individuals. Mentoring is one of the best methods to confirm that your employees feel supported by your organization.

Mentoring partnerships help employees translate theory into practice as they apply their new knowledge immediately to assignments and projects. These partnerships facilitate direct opportunities for knowledge sharing, which enhances and taps into knowledge capital within an organization. It guarantees that your valuable organizational knowledge is not lost. An effective mentorship program brands your organization as the one who cares about its employees and helps your business continuously attract the best talent for the roles necessary.

How Does Mentorship Benefit Women?

Women oftentimes directly benefit the most from mentorship programs because it contributes most significantly to our employment retention. Oftentimes women indicate that the presence or absence of a supportive mentorship program is what ultimately drives their decision either to remain within their organization or to leave.

Mentorship can teach us to articulate our ambitions. An important factor to our success is that we do not permit our employers to believe that our performance speaks for itself. By doing so, then you are increasing the possibly to miss out on a promotion because you have not stated your ambition and desire for one. Without stating it, you may not be considered for one. Mentorship also breeds accountability through action because mentees learn to take responsibility for their action items and enjoy seeing them fulfilled.

It is also important for women to own their careers. By utilizing mentorship, sponsorship, and coaching we can learn to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Owning our careers is critical to our success. It is important for women to realize their ambitions, weaknesses, and strengths for mentorship to be most effective. Learn how to promote yourself well and understand the gaps within your skills and learn how to correct them. It is also important to expose yourself to different experiences in order not to get too comfortable and to continue to grow.

Mentoring partnerships can be life changing if they are done properly and lead to lifelong success.

A version of the post was first published on Careers in Government.

#WorkTrends Recap: Mentoring: Women Elevating Women

Success in business does not happen alone. Most successful people will tell you that mentorship has played a big part in their journey to the top. Mentorship, whether it occurs in or out of the workplace, has numerous personal benefits, especially for women.

This week on #WorkTrends, we were joined by Valerie Martinelli, previously of the Center for Economic & Policy Development, Inc. She discussed the pros of mentorship and how women in the workplace can develop a support system for elevating the cause of women in the workplace. Valerie also shared the widespread benefits of mentoring programs and how these are important programs for employers to institute into their culture.

Here are some other key points that she shared:

  • Mentors do not need to be older or wiser but the person must be able to give value
  • It should be a give and take relationship when it comes to mentoring
  • Being mentored takes guts. You have to be prepared for what your mentor is giving you.

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). On Jan 18 I will be joined by Igloo Software CEO Dan Latendre to discuss key trends in the digital workplace.

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo Credit: Global Sports Mentoring Program Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Preview: Mentoring: Women Elevating Women

Mentorship, whether it occurs in or out of the workplace, has numerous personal benefits, especially for women.

Our guest, Valerie Martinelli, previously of the Center for Economic & Policy Development, Inc., will be discussing the pros of mentorship and how women in the workplace can develop a support system for elevating the cause of women in the workplace. Ms. Martinelli will also discuss the widespread benefits of mentoring programs and how these are important programs for employers to institute into their culture. She will discuss her experience and how utilizing mentorship, sponsorship, and coaching can help us learn to turn our weaknesses into strengths and how owning our careers is critical to success.

Join guest Valerie Martinelli and host Meghan M. Biro on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 1pm EST when they discuss this important and timely topic.

Mentoring: Women Elevating Women

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Join Valerie and me on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Jan 11 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the benefits of mentoring?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: Why do women struggle with finding mentors?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: How can companies create and support mentoring in the workplace? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

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#WorkTrends Recap: Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

Today’s #WorkTrends show addressed the risks and rewards of mentoring, identified some of the reasons mentoring is disappearing, and explored how to reintroduce these important business relationships.

There are a myriad of benefits to well-designed and well-executed mentoring relationships in the workplace. However, it appears that the practice of mentoring is starting to taper off and, in some cases, disappear altogether.

Along with our knowledgeable guests Jonathan Segal, a partner in Duane Morris’ Employment Group, and Sue Meisinger, a consultant and speaker on HR leadership issues, we also discussed:

  1. What exactly mentoring is (as well as what it isn’t)
  2. The importance of mentoring to the business as a whole
  3. How to maximize the value of cross-gender mentoring and minimize the potential legal risks

It was a lively #WorkTrends podcast and Twitter conversation. Participants had a lot to share about their thoughts and personal experiences with formal and informal mentoring relationships.

Want to learn more? Listen to the recording and check out the highlights below:

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends Show is all new on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT). Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro, as she talks with author and keynote speaker Ben Fanning about how to turn your current job into one you love.

Join our social communities and stay up-to-date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #WorkTrends Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

#WorkTrends Preview: Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

There are a myriad of benefits to well-designed and well-executed mentoring relationships in the workplace. However, it appears that the practice of mentoring is starting to taper off and, in some cases, disappear altogether. During this upcoming #WorkTrends conversation, we’ll discuss the risks and rewards of mentoring, identify some of the reasons mentoring is disappearing, and explore how to reintroduce these important business relationships.

Along with our knowledgeable guests Jonathan Segal, a partner in Duane Morris’ Employment Group, and Sue Meisinger, a consultant and speaker on HR leadership issues, some of the things we’ll discuss include:

  1. What exactly mentoring is (as well as what it isn’t)
  2. The importance of mentoring to the business as a whole
  3. How to maximize the value of cross-gender mentoring and minimize the potential legal risks

#WorkTrends Event: Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

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Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, March 23 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro as she talks about where all the mentors have gone.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, March 23 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. We invite everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the benefits of traditional workplace mentors? #WorkTrends  (Tweet the question)

Q2: What are the benefits of reverse mentoring?#WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q3: How can companies easily develop effective mentoring programs? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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Mentorship and the Future of Work

The American workplace is changing at a revolutionary pace and when it comes to the future of work, mentorship will no doubt play an important role.

Half of the full-time workforce is projected to be remote employees working from home either full or part time by 2020. In addition, the average American worker now spends only 4.5 years at one job–and that number is even less for Millennials.

Simply put, there’s a new future of work coming…one that looks significantly different than even a decade ago. Studies show that close to 80 percent of college students and recent grads rank people and culture fit as a top priority, and career potential as a close second.

In that environment, nurturing, inspiring, and developing employees will be even more critical, and mentorship is a key part of the equation. Companies that think carefully about how to foster and create mentorship opportunities will be more likely to retain the very best talent, while letting go of employees that aren’t self-directed and motivated.

Here are a few ways mentorship is changing, and how you can endeavor to modify the thinking within your organization to help embrace the shift:

Be Open About Negotiating How a Mentorship will be Set Up

In the more traditional workplace, a manager or boss would assess where a potential employee might go with their career and provide mentorship accordingly, with a direction that the manager set.

But as Millennial and Generation Z employees navigate career paths that look much different than they did 10 or 20 years ago, they need more options, and they want to be heavily involved. Encouraging them to define their own future skill set and providing them a variety of ways of getting professional development and feedback is critical.

Develop and Welcome a Workflow for Mentorship that Goes in Both Directions

Traditional conceptions of mentorship included the experienced boss and inexperienced employees, whom the boss groomed for promotion. Mentorship was one direction, and the mentee was expected to listen and absorb the mentor’s expertise and experience. As employees are becoming entrepreneurial in nature, this is changing; hierarchies are breaking down, and expected timelines for promotion are shortening.

While it can be unnerving, there are plenty of reasons to welcome this. Brad Feld, who has been an entrepreneur and investor for 20+ years, sees that change as one of the most gratifying parts of his life

“When I reflect on my best mentors, they are very long term relationships where I hope they’ve now gotten as much from me as I’ve gotten from them. I call this “peer mentoring” and – while it can start as an equal relationship, it’s magical when it evolves from a mentor – mentee relationship.”

Embrace a Learning-by-Teaching Approach

The apprenticeship model has always been part of the workplace, but it’s even more critical in the changing environment of remote work and faster, more self-driven career development.

With younger employees expected to get up to speed even more quickly, and without traditional in-office training, one of the things that a smart company can focus on is encouraging a culture where there is more mentorship in smaller bites, and where the model for learning is also a model for teaching.

Rather than lengthy sessions a few times a year or when a crisis arrives, setting up a mini-class with a mentor, for example, can be an effective way to quickly engage employees. Once they’ve acquired the information, having them in turn engage in quick working sessions with their peers fosters a model of continuous learning, and bi-directional mentorship.

Encourage employees to embrace their whole identity, but draw clear lines

Part of the reason so many Millennials look for a work culture fit is that they have a different expectation than previous generations about what role work should play in their lives. Many Millennials are looking for a different kind of relationship, one where their whole identity is embraced, where they are seen and respected for both their work and individual pursuits and passions.

Ultimately, mentorship will not disappear (as some have suggested). Mentorship will most definitely play a role in the future of work; Millennials want mentorship and talk about it often. Mentorship will, however, continue to shift into a mutually-respectful agreement that evolves by way of negotiation between employers and employees about what is important and how an employee’s goals can align with company goals. The monolithic giants will fight it, and lose the battle, while smart, nimble companies will embrace the changes and create an environment where employees not only learn and grow, but stick around to help the company do the same.

This article was originally published on MillennialCEO  on 10/20/2015
photo credit: Learn via photopin (license)

Surviving the Gig Economy: When your Talent Pool Refuses to Stay Put

If the last decade has taught us something, it’s that we will live in a world that continues to disrupt. It is impacting how people behave, how they consume information and how business should operate, as a result.

The economy that, in years’ past, has been the fortress of stability, is now as predictable as tomorrow’s stock market. This has spawned a domino effect concurrent with the introduction of technologies that give rise to the fickle consumer, and now…. the ever growing nomadic workforce.

The one certainty we have today is change. Companies are changing because they have to.

Nothing is what it was supposed to be. Careers that should have been launched from years of hard work and education are now relegated to a series of opportunities indicative of a more entrepreneurial economy.

The Guardian says this

Today, more and more of us choose, instead, to make our living working gigs rather than full time. To the optimists, it promises a future of empowered entrepreneurs and boundless innovation. To the naysayers, it portends a dystopian future of disenfranchised workers hunting for their next wedge of piecework.

In our latest Blended Generation Think Tank, our panellists of Boomers, GenXers and Millennials agreed that loyalty to any one company does not exist today. It is, for all intents and purposes, a “false promise”.

With the number of Millennials now becoming an increasing majority in the work force, they want to make a difference. While money is initial motivator, it is merely table stakes. Here is how some of our Millennials put it:
For GenXers and Boomers, who have lived through this turmoil multiple times, Doug Haslam said it best:

I never thought of 3 years or job impermanence as a fear, but an expectation

For many companies, the expectation of large budgets, a stable workforce are no longer realities.

For our Millennials, here’s how they see their ‘careers’ progressing:

  • Earning every dollar  keeps you on your toes. You have to keep “being good” at what you’re doing to remain in the company. GenY refuses to be “this” vulnerable to any organization, and instead be more in control of their destiny.
  • The concept of rising through the ranks has become less about climbing the corporate ladder. It’s no longer linear  but a longer path that means more lateral movements over time.
  • Competing for work means picking up new skills with each new opportunity and becoming a jack-of-all-trades.
  • Continuous learning to remain relevant and marketable is now an expectation.
  • Working for any one company is not enough. This highly-networked generation will always explore “side-hustle” passion projects.

Startups realize the expectation of change is expected and embraced. People, in the new economy, will move from one opportunity to another.

There is this growing desire to have control over one’s fate. No longer does anyone want their destiny decided by a corporation, which has proven time and time again it ONLY looks after its own interests and that of its shareholders… at least, that is how the employee perceives it.

One thing that is clear: people are loyal to people NOT to corporations.

If you are a manager, your job is to support the company initiatives but you have a greater responsibility to the employees you manage. One of our wise Boomers said it best

Other than my commitment to help the company do what I can under the circumstances it is facing, the only commitment I have can make it is to the employee through coaching, managing, training and respecting and nurturing their abilities… One thing I tell those I manage: You will be better going out than coming in.

~Steve Dodd

What’s under a manager’s control is to create an environment that allows employees opportunities to contribute and feel part of “something” while they are there. The investment in talent means the following:

  • Lead by inspiration, not by job function or process.
  • Creativity and ideas should come from everywhere, and not dictated by job description.
  • Trust your employees. Have faith in their abilities. There is a reason they were hired.
  • Give employees a stake in the outcome. Give them ownership and recognize their successes and contributions informally and formally.
  • For Millennials, constant feedback is appreciated. It’s what they’re accustomed to and how they learn.
  • Find ways to take people outside what they are doing and comfortably stretch them into other areas.

In other words,

Put the people first. Develop them in ways that are meaningful for them.

Let’s face it, the new work environment cannot guarantee it can retain the best employees. However, developing an employee-centric culture allows a company to increase productivity, sustain awesome employees longer, and attract top talent in the process.