Leadership

Mentoring 101: Finding the Right Fit is Key to Successful Relationships

Mentorships are a time-honored tradition in the workforce. From entry-level recent graduates to mid-career professionals making a move toward the C-suite, there’s an opportunity to take an employee’s training and development to the next level through mentorship relationships.

And the statistics show mentors can have a major impact on not just the mentee’s success, but also on the productivity of a business overall.

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, younger employees intending to stay with their organization more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. And, 71 percent of those likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

So, there’s little doubt that a strong culture of mentorship is important for building a productive and engaged workforce.

But before you jump headfirst into a mentor relationship with a bright, up-and-coming employee, there are a few considerations you should make to ensure the relationship is productive for everyone involved.

What can you offer vs. what does your mentee need?
First and foremost, is the relationship even a good fit? There’s much more to it than simply pairing a senior leader with a younger employee. Before any official relationship is established, there should be discussions about what the mentee’s goals are and what the mentor is willing and able to provide.

Forcing a poor fit will likely be a waste of time for both parties in the long run. Mentorships are first and foremost a relationship. And if either the mentor or the mentee are not getting what they need out of the arrangement, it’s best to be open and honest about the situation and to help each other find a better fit.

Is the mentee ready to learn?
There’s a saying that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Even if you sense potential in a young employee, if they are not prepared to take the next step and make a commitment to a mentorship relationship, you shouldn’t try to rush it.

Again, this is where communication about what the mentor and mentee expect to gain out of the relationship plays a major role. If a mentor feels their potential mentee is not ready to fully engage in the process, it may be more beneficial to put the plan on hold until they are.

What can you learn from the mentee?
Mentorships aren’t a one-way street. No matter how experienced a mentor may be, there’s always something new to learn—and those lessons may very well come from their mentee. The best relationships are an exchange of knowledge where both parties benefit from the experience.

A millennial mentee, for example, may be able to teach a baby boomer mentor about the most current trends in social media or other communications technologies. Being blind to rank and open to learning new skills or taking advantage of each other’s unique expertise is key to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mentorships take many forms and in the end, it’s up to the individuals involved to find the right fit for their development needs. Communication, setting expectations, and a willingness to learn are some of the most important characteristics of any great work relationship, and essential to successfully mentoring the next generation of leaders.

 

What Type of Boss Do You Have?

And what does that mean for you, as an employee?

Throughout our lives, we’ve all worked for a variety of bosses. Some are compassionate and inspire us to excel in a number of ways. Others are independent leaders who have a tendency to be more assertive.

Daniel Goleman, of the Harvard Business School Press, outlines six basic boss types, illustrated below in an infographic by the Quid Corner, an online financial resource center. Although we all have our own ideal management type, the graphic also outlines the optimal ways to get along with each type of boss. So even if your manager isn’t naturally compatible with you, you’ll have some idea of how best to get along with them.

 

Is Your Boss a Great Leader?

Difficult to earn and easily lost, trust and respect are two of the most important characteristics of great leadership. Workers look to their leaders for guidance and behavioral cues that influence the way they react to a given situation. So, the trust a workforce has for the people in charge greatly impacts productivity.

In fact, according to the 2017 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 61% of employees said trust in senior management is very important to their job satisfaction. Even more striking, only 33% said they were “very satisfied” with the level of trust in their organization overall.

So, what does it take to earn trust and respect from employees? Check out these five important qualities, and let us know if your boss (or past boss) has what it takes.

They leave the door open
Free and open communication is essential for building trust and respect. Open door policies take many shapes, but fostering an environment where employees feel safe coming to the boss with workplace concerns, new ideas, or even constructive criticism, show that a leader is receptive to and genuinely interested in understanding the situation on the frontlines of the business.

They believe consistency is key
From how a leader reacts to project challenges to how he or she reprimands individual employees, consistency in words and actions is a major part of building trust. Inconsistent messages and unpredictable behavior will cause employees to feel that they can’t depend on a leader to make fair and honest choices of action in difficult situations.

They get their hands dirty
There are few better ways for a leader to build trust and respect than rolling up their sleeves and jumping down into the trenches with the employees. Showing that they aren’t afraid to step out on the front line and get their hands dirty creates a bond through shared experience and reminds workers that they’ve been there and have personally walked a few miles in their shoes.

Confidence in their decisions
Mental fortitude and resoluteness create confidence among employees. Wishy-washy decision making and uncertainty when the going gets tough causes doubt, and when the team isn’t fully behind their leader, a breakdown in communication and productivity is sure to follow.

They share their wisdom
As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another—leaders who give willingly of their time and expertise to build up the next generation earn trust and respect from the people they lead. Not only do they set the standard for future leadership, they also leave behind a legacy worth celebrating.

Workforce productivity and success hinges largely on examples set by the people at the top. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight, but the leaders who invest the time to foster a positive working environment based on mutual respect will be rewarded with employees who are more engaged and loyal to their company.

Does your  boss (or past boss) have any of these qualities? If not, how does that affect your productivity ? Let us know in the comments below!

Poll Results: What’s Your Workplace Superpower

Faster than a speeding copier? More powerful than an industrial strength forklift?  Able to leap heaps of paperwork in a single bound?

achieverAlthough generally peaceful, the workplace can sometimes be a scary place, with looming deadlines, frustrated clients, and surprise project attacks lurking behind every corner. Your to-do list can seem overwhelming. Who could possibly save us from these sundry evils of working life? Our incredible Movin’ On Up readers, of course!  At the end of February we asked you what your workplace superpowers were. Here’s how you responded:

Daringly Dependable flew into first with 27.72% of the vote, with Heroically Hardworking teleporting in second at 24.75%, and Multitask Mastermind speeding past in third with 21.78%.

Commander of Communication was zapped at 8.91%, while Organization Overlord and Killer Conversationalist met their match at 6.93%.

Other responses included Flexible Gap Filler and Eagle Eye. One dastardly villain thought to respond with Sleeping on the Job — most certainly a foe disguised as a faithful reader.

Even with all of these incredible superpowers, there are still going to be days where it’s tough to be a crusader of office justice. But when you’re lost and feeling down, remember that you’re part of a team. And teamwork is the most powerful superpower of all.

Any more workplace superpowers you want us to know about? Let us know in the comments below!

Life Lessons from John Wooden

Basketball in HoopOne of the most revered coaches in the history of sports is John Wooden, nicknamed “The Wizard of Westwood,” who won 10 NCAA national championships in his 12-year career as head coach at the University of California Los Angeles.

Wooden, who passed away in June 2010, left behind a legacy as one of the most successful basketball coaches in the history of the sport, but he also left behind a blueprint on how to become the best and most successful person one can be.

Today, athletes, business leaders, employees and countless others follow these life lessons from Coach Wooden in their own lives. Below are five quotes from this great basketball icon that ring as true in today’s world as they did when he first spoke them.

“Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

As one of the top blocks on Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success,” competitive greatness does not mean beating everyone else, but doing your absolute best every day. No matter how small the job, excellence is earned by doing the most thorough work each day, every day. The best work is done by those who practice their skills, release excuses and do important things, even when the odds seem daunting.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Even the most menial tasks at a job serve a purpose, and those little things add up to create big results. Nothing a person does should be considered boring or insignificant. Strategic planning and execution of major projects also includes the little details that can make or break a triumph. Leaders can learn to appreciate their employees from the ground up by keeping this quote from Wooden in mind. The man who cleans the offices at night is as big a part of a company’s success as the top salesperson.

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

People inevitably try to downplay someone else’s success or belittle another person. Friends, families, competitors and enemies are all guilty of this at one point or another.  Wooden’s advice is to stop focusing on criticisms and focus on helpful critique. If a complaint is valid, that complaint can become a learning opportunity and a chance to improve. On the flip side, chasing flattery can be almost as debilitating as giving into criticism. Many people become dependent on praise, chasing the ego rub instead of true greatness.

“Don’t let making a living deprive you of making a life.”

Too many people trade daily enjoyment for achievement, but the key to true success is having both. Also called “work/life balance,” most people find happiness when they achieve something important and enjoy other aspects of life. Working is a way to earn a wage, but successful people also find delight while accomplishing goals and victories through their job.

“If I am through learning, I am through.”

In life, education is never finished. Most successful business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers or employees are constantly on the search for knowledge and ways to improve. Life always offers up opportunities to learn something new, whether it’s a new skill set, another language, a new hobby or a new perspective on life. Not expanding a base of knowledge or experience leads to stagnation and boredom. Continuous learning is powerful, so take life’s lessons from Coach Wooden to begin building your legacy.

 

It’s Time to Break the Millennial Mold

MillenialsJobSearch_Sept2013_webEach generation has a stereotype. There’s the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers. Now, as more of the generation known as Millennials enters the workforce, stereotypes are increasingly prevalent.

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Millennials, or those born between approximately the years of 1980 and 2000. They’re seen as entitled, needy, self-absorbed, and privileged. They’re known as job-hoppers and “the trophy generation.” They’re famous for technology addiction.

If you’re a Millennial who doesn’t feel like part of that stereotype, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Beyond.com shows that it takes more than a feeling to shut down those stereotypes. In order to get bosses or potential employers on your side, you have to prove that you can break the Millennial mold.

Be a team player

In a national survey of Millennials and veteran HR professionals, Beyond.com uncovered striking differences in the perceptions of this generation. For example, the survey revealed that 60% of Millennials identify as team players, but only 22% of HR professionals think the generation works well on a team. In other words, recruiters think only one out of every five applicants possesses the ability to work well with others.

You can prove that you’re one of those team players by showcasing your experience working in teams and highlighting those skills in interviews or through networking. If you volunteer with local organizations, share how those experiences helped you grow. Explore your role as a team member in any school projects or previous jobs and explain how you worked well with others. If you can, collect references and letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your specific teamwork skills.

Communicate well

65% of surveyed Millennials believe they possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, only 14% of HR professionals agree. With such a large gap in perception, you have a significant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and break the mold.

Start by brushing up on your communications skills. Consider taking an online class in important communication practices. Join a group like Toastmasters to advance your public speaking experience. Or, read articles and books that share tips about communicating with older generations, as well as communicating through email, phone, and writing. By taking the extra step to learn these important skills, you not only become a more well-rounded employee, but also show recruiters and potential employers that you possess the initiative to grow.

Work harder

If you consider yourself a hard worker, you’re not alone. 85% of surveyed Millennials identify with the trait, in contrast to only 11% of HR professionals who believe the generation works hard. To further break that number down, only one in 10 Millennial jobseekers is perceived as a hard worker by potential employers. While this may sound disheartening, it means there is room for you to stand out.

One of the easiest ways to break the Millennial mold is to simply give your best every day. Luckily, you don’t have to be an existing employee to prove your work ethic to an employer. Start before you are hired by building a network of professionals who will speak to your skills. By showing up to work on time, staying late when a job needs to be finished, or taking on extra assignments, people will notice that you’re a hard worker. And chances are, they’ll be willing to serve as a reference or write a recommendation for you in the future.

Be a leader

Even if a leadership role isn’t on your current career path, it’s important to sharpen your leadership skills if you want to stand out. Less than half of Millennials identify as leaders (40%), but even fewer (9%) of HR professionals recognize leadership potential in younger employees.

As older generations begin to retire and exit the workforce, it will be up to Millennials to fill the void. Employers recognize this and make hiring decisions accordingly. They look for new employees who show leadership potential, have skills that make them great mentors, and aren’t afraid of challenges. If you’re hoping to land a job, you need to show potential employers that you possess the leadership skills to keep their business thriving in the coming years.

Consider joining industry organizations and volunteering for leadership roles within them, like secretary or treasurer. Volunteer your time as a mentor or tutor for local schools, organize a neighborhood committee, or assemble a team of colleagues to tackle a company initiative. When you show the initiative to lead, you position yourself as an ideal candidate in a changing workforce.

Focus on loyalty

In perhaps the most striking of findings, the survey revealed that 82% of Millennials define themselves as loyal. But only 1% of HR professionals agree. Are you part of that perceived 1% of your generation who embrace workplace loyalty? If you want to stand out from the competition, you should.

Millennials are often referred to as “job hoppers,” or workers who don’t stay with an employer for long before moving to the next one. While this lack of tenure is common in early years of employment, it’s important to not make a habit of it. Be mindful of the applications you send out and jobs you accept. If you don’t think you’ll be happy at a company, or think you’ll look for another job as soon as you start, it may not be the best fit.

While you can’t always turn down a job that isn’t a great fit due to financial reasons, you can help enact positive changes in the workplace. Offer suggestions, join committees, and try to get involved. And remember to focus on the benefits of the job, like health insurance, wellness initiatives, or paid time off.

When you focus on showcasing traits that contrast popular stereotypes, you can break the Millennial mold and prove your workplace value. Remember, you can’t just tell bosses and potential supervisors that your talents are a perfect match for the job. You have to show them, too.

How do you break the generational molds? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

How to Climb When There’s No Ladder

With thousands of career options available, you’ve probably put a bit of thought into where you’d like to be in ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now. If management or leadership is part of your desired career path, you’re not alone. According to business consultant and author Lynette Lewis, “Growth is a natural sign of being alive, so it is healthy to want to expand, develop, and advance both personally and professionally.”

For many, earning a leadership position requires a climb up the corporate ladder. But what do you do when there’s no clear ladder in sight?

Make a plan

When it comes to accomplishing a long-term goal, you must have a plan. Start by figuring out your ultimate goal. Do you want to own your own company? Become a manager? A partner in a firm? Whatever it may be, write your goal down, then make a list of everything you need to do to achieve it.

Divide your list into manageable segments, like education, experience, and skills. By breaking one long-term goal into smaller, easily obtainable goals, your career dreams may become more realistic. Even if your current workplace doesn’t provide room to move up, having—and following—a plan will help you make targeted movements along your career path.

According to The Muse, “No career goal is out of reach if you go into the game with a strategy.”

Educate yourself and never stop learning

To find work in specialized fields, you likely need to be educated in those industries and possess the skills companies look for in employees. But, education doesn’t stop when you graduate high school, earn your college diploma, or finish your certification. In fact, employers often look highly upon employees who take the initiative to further educate themselves.

This doesn’t mean you have to enroll in a traditional 4-year college program. Instead, check out your local resources for educational opportunities. Your city may have a community college that offers individual classes on computer programs, communication, or other specialized skills for your job. Likewise, your industry may have an employee association you can join. Those associations usually have resources available to members, including networking opportunities, webinars, and newsletters.

Network, network, network

Have you heard the famous phrase: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? It’s a reminder of the importance of networking and meeting people who may be able to help you on your career path. When it comes to advancing your career or moving into a leadership role where there may not be a clear path for you, it’s especially important to focus on networking.

Consider, for example, that you attend an association event filled with industry colleagues and executives. Through networking, you meet someone with whom you share a story about your experience. The skills you have are a perfect fit for a leadership role at this person’s company, but you may not have known that had you not attended the event.

Likewise, if you earn a new certification and add it to your LinkedIn profile, it may get you noticed by someone in your company who didn’t know you possessed the skills or motivations that you have.

Work harder

It goes without saying that you must work hard to advance your career, right? But when there isn’t room for advancement in your workplace, it’s especially important to excel in your role. When you have the opportunity to go the extra mile, take it. If your supervisor needs someone to volunteer as the lead on a project, and your schedule allows for it, raise your hand. If you would like to try something new, ask about it. Supervisors notice the employees who work hard, and if you want to advance your career, you must first be noticed.

Take initiative

While working hard is essential to getting noticed by leaders in the company, so is being an initiator. Supervisors are busy, so if you notice something that could be done more efficiently in your everyday work, or you recognize a place where the company could save money, find time to present your findings to them. Chances are, your unique position allows you to recognize problems or deliver solutions better than anyone else. Not only can your suggestions benefit the company, they can also show that you have strong initiative.

Keep a positive folder

When someone sends you an email thanking you for superior service or congratulates you on an accomplishment, hang onto those emails. Consider creating a folder in your inbox or on your computer where you can keep notes of positivity from others. Not only will this folder serve as a quick way to boost your spirits, it can also show your supervisor how you’ve helped others. When you have a performance review or want to discuss the opportunity to advance in your role, use the documents in your folder to support you.

Say thanks

We all like to feel appreciated. And while it may be nice to receive the promotion, pay raise, or advancement you’ve set your sights on, it’s important to say thanks to those who help you on every step of your career path. After all, thankfulness and positivity are traits of strong leaders.

How do you move forward with your career, even when there isn’t a clear path for advancement? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.