I would establish ground rules for your discussion, such as discussing behaviors versus people. For example, instead of the mentee saying my manager is such a micromanager, they never trust me to do anything on my own. The mentee should say, I feel micromanaged when X happens.
Welcome to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network. This series is sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. Each week, you’ll hear from a thought leader, discussing topics that are relevant and impactful to the senior living industry.
Hello and welcome back to Contributor Wednesday on the Bridge the Gap podcast for senior living. I’m your host, Anthony Ormsbee-Hale, Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations at Citas Senior Living, and I’m thrilled to be a guest contributor with you all talking about the benefits of mentorship. Before we dive in, I’d like to take a moment of personal privilege here and acknowledge some leaders at Civitas Senior Living who have mentored me along the way and supported my recent transition from Vice President of People Operations at Civitas to Senior VP of Strategic Operations. A special thank you to Misti Powell, Co-founder and Chief Program Officer, Dionne Motal, Chief HR Officer, Misty Miller, Chief Operating Officer, and last but not least, Cooper Vittitow, Co-founder and President at Civitas. While I could go on and on naming the many dynamic leaders who have played an active role in my own development, I’d like to extend a special thank you to those four individuals for their time, energy, effort, and interest in helping me grow professionally.
In this episode, I’m going to answer some questions about mentoring that have been submitted to me since the previous episode. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to text, email, call, and send your messages in for this show, and I’m really looking forward to answering them and diving in more. Before I get to those questions, I thought it would be helpful just to do a quick recap of some of the key points from previous episodes, because they’ll come in handy as we talk through some of the answers to the questions that I have.
As I previously shared, mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative at will relationship that most often occurs between a senior and junior employee at an organization. And this relationship serves for the purpose of the mentee’s growth, learning, and career development. Although there are some great benefits for the mentor as well. Often the mentor and mentee both work together at the same organization, or at least within the same industry. And there’s an emphasis on coordinating the mentees goals to organizational goals, culture, career goals, and oftentimes includes advice on professional development and personal development, such as work life balance. Effective mentors often act as role models and sounding boards for their mentee and provide guidance to help them reach their goals. Mentoring can take many forms, including formal and informal approaches. In an informal environment, mentees set goals, but they’re usually not measurable if the relationships are unstructured. For a formal mentor relationship, there are actionable and measurable goals defined and set within determined requirements. Mentoring is not coaching and it’s certainly not therapy or counseling.
Mentoring relationships are based upon giving advice and direction. While coaching is typically more technically skills based. Counseling is a paid relationship in which an underlying mental or psychological issue is addressed with solutions being given by a trained medical professional. So now let’s get to the questions for the purpose of privacy. I won’t share the name of the person who submitted the question, but again, I really appreciate everyone who took the time out to send these in.
Question number one, I’d like to be a mentor to several promising leaders in our company, but I don’t think I have the time to meet with them all individually. In your previous episodes, you’ve talked about mentorship as a one on one relationship, but can group mentorship also be successful?
I loved this question. Thank you so much for bringing this up. Mentoring can take place in many different formats, such as one on one, group mentoring, peer mentoring, reverse, and speed mentoring.
And I haven’t talked enough about all of the different ways that you can have a mentoring relationship or a mentoring program within your organization, and the group mentoring model, one or more mentors work with a group of mentees. Schools and youth programs often apply this model because there may not be enough time or resources to have one mentor for each participant. Additional social and relational processes, such as group cohesion, belonging in a strong group identity may come out of the group mentoring model. As a strong relationship with the senior leader is often expected by mentees, it’s important to clarify what your time commitment will be to the individuals participating in the program. For example, if the mentorship program is scheduled to take place over the course of a year, then I would suggest doing group mentoring sessions at least once a month, and try to schedule one on one sessions with the participants, at least every quarter.
This is a great way to set those expectations. But again, you can work this out with individual mentees based on their own expectations for the program. Thanks so much for sending that question in and I encourage you to take a look at some of those other types of mentoring programs as they may be much more applicable to your organization versus the traditional one-on-one mentorship relationship.
Question number two, I’ve been rejected by an individual that I would like to be my mentor. What do I do now? First, I’m sorry to hear that. Even the best made plans don’t always work out, but I tend to fall into the camp that everything works out for a reason. So here are a couple of suggestions for you as you consider your next steps. One, if you’re able to, I would suggest asking the individual for feedback on why they’re unable to mentor you, or if they could possibly recommend someone else.
This may depend on the type of relationship that you have with a person. And again, as I’ve said in previous episodes, some mentors simply just don’t have the time to participate or accept working with every individual who reaches out to them. So most likely I would suggest don’t take this as a personal repudiation of your work, but it may simply just come down to timing and logistics. If you have the option to reach out and ask for clarification, that’s a great place to start, and you may get some valuable feedback.
Another place that you can go to for assistance is your company’s HR department, or even speak directly to your manager to see if they can connect you with another potential mentor. If you’re unable to find an internal mentor within your organization, try connecting with a professional organization within your industry to determine if they have a mentorship program that you can participate in. For example, within senior living Argentum has the LEAD Program in which companies can sponsor employees to connect with industry leaders who would act as a mentor for them. And you would also get the chance to collaborate with other high performers within the industry. Thanks again for sending in this question, best of luck in finding a mentor, that’s the right fit for you.
Question number three, I have recently taken on a mentee who uses our time together to complain about their manager and has not been putting in the effort to work towards some of the goals that we’ve set together. I think that they have a lot of potential, but I feel like I’m wasting my time in our current process. Any thoughts on how I can reset our relationship?
This is a great question and a pretty common challenge in many mentoring relationships. This dynamic can be awkward for the mentor, especially if you’re working internally with the manager that your mentee is complaining about. It also puts you in a sticky situation of if you should divulge to HR or other internal stakeholders about the feedback that you’re getting regarding this manager. So thanks again for the question. Here are a couple of suggestions for you. In your next meeting, let the mentee know that you would like to evaluate the progress of your current working relationship together. Go back to the goals that you mentioned and determine where you are in the process of accomplishing them. If you’ve set goals that are measurable, time bound, and realistic, they should be pretty easy for you to evaluate. Since it sounds like you’re not meeting your timelines here, you can share that you believe some barriers to success include that your topics of discussion often go off track during your time together, and that you don’t believe the mentee is dedicating enough time to be meeting the goals.
I would also confirm that the person is still willing to spend the estimated number of hours working towards whatever those goals are. If the time is no longer available, you may need to consider determining new goals or asking if this is still the best time to prioritize a mentorship program.
If the decision to continue working together occurs, I would establish ground rules for your discussion, such as discussing behaviors versus people. For example, instead of the mentee saying my manager is such a micromanager, they never trust me to do anything on my own. The mentee should say, I feel micromanaged. When X happens. As the mentor, you can then evaluate why the person is experiencing that reaction in the situation and how they can adapt their behavior to better perform in the workplace. This feedback to the mentee is important. They need to understand that their behavior and gossiping or sharing negative feedback about the manager is not healthy, and the mentor should be able to call a time out, evaluate the process and determine the next best steps. Neither party should ever feel trapped in the process, or as if they’re just having to go through the motions.
Remember mentorship should have rewards for both the mentee and the mentor, best of luck in resetting those conversations. Sometimes those difficult conversations are very challenging to have, but often very rewarding.
Let’s move on to question number four, we’ve received a complaint from an employee who was not invited to participate in our internal mentorship program. Each year, our organization invites applicants to submit for consideration, and then we select 10 mentees from various parts of the business. This particular employee was not selected because they are considered a high performing employee and we felt that others needed more support. I’m also not confident that this employee was ever given an explanation for why they were not selected. Any thoughts on how I should handle this.
Thanks so much for sending in this question. I think it’s great that you have an internal program and I wanna kind of take apart this question a little bit to talk through some of the different points. First, you mentioned that the employee is not selected because they’re a high performer. And I would argue that this is exactly the type of person who should be in a mentorship program. I’m not sure who acts as your mentors, and what the capacity is, but I bet that most mentors would be willing to take on an additional person, if they felt that they were getting an all star mentee. I would consider trying to find a mentor for this person.
You could also look at evaluating the objective of the mentorship program. Is the mentorship program designed for high performing employees, or is it really more of a performance coaching program in which mentorship may not be the best solution? And also remember high performing employees need to be nurtured, and I would even suggest considering a separate track within the program specifically for high performers. Depending on your organization, there can be miscommunication and varying expectations when it comes to having those difficult conversations, such as telling an employee that they didn’t get accepted into a program that they applied for.
Oftentimes one manager may think, oh, HR is telling this person they didn’t get accepted. Or in HR, maybe thinking that the manager is providing that feedback. I always feel that it’s helpful in these situations to contact the manager, specifically ask if and when they’ve had a conversation with that employee, and if the case is that the employee was not given that feedback to schedule time to speak with the employee, with the manager as well. Again, telling the employee they weren’t selected because they are a high performer may actually be frustrating to the employee who can feel overlooked and undervalued.
As I shared in previous relationships with other mentors, I’ve often sometimes felt that, in group settings or in other places, if I’m reviewed as a high performing employee, then the company may not invest as much in my own development, as they may assume that I’m taking that step for myself. And again, if the employee feels that they’re missing out on a chance to cultivate a relationship that may open future opportunities, then you’re at risk of losing that high performing employee.
Thanks again for sending in that question best of luck. And I hope that you guys are able to find a really great fit for that rockstar employee.
And our final question. How do you measure success in a mentorship program? And I, I loved this question because it was actually one that really made me think about, for my own self, how I define success in my own mentorship relationships. And this may look a little bit different for individuals versus organizations. Again, not every organization has a formal mentorship program, so it may look differently, but here are some suggestions that I would have.
For an individual who’s participating in an informal program. I go back to something that I shared in the previous episode, which is the objective and key result method. Objectives and key results are collaborative goal setting methodology, and it can be used by individuals and by teams, and by entire organizations to set really challenging ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are how you track progress, create alignment, and create more meaningful engagement around measurable goals. For example, if I were participating in an individual mentorship relationship, my objective may be that I will expand my professional network. And if that’s my objective, then I need to set some key results to meet along the way.
Key result number one could be, I will have 35% more LinkedIn connections by X date. Key result number two could be, I will speak at one professional conference by X date. And key result number three could be, I will meet with one new professional connection for lunch each month during the current year. Those results are time bound, they’re specific, they’re measurable. Again, objectives and key results should be something that you can either say, yes, this was done, or no, I didn’t meet my goal.
Same thing for organizations, for organizations who are developing formal mentorship programs really consider the purpose of the mentorship program. I go back to one of the previous questions where we were discussing the high performing employee, and if you were developing a mentorship program to address low performance within your organization, then you may wanna consider actually a coaching program instead where you’re addressing short term expectations, providing technical skills and support along the way to help somebody immediately improve in their, their job performance. Whereas mentorship is more of a long term professional development that takes place over the span of months and even years.
So really consider the problem that you’re trying to solve before developing the overall program. But for example, for organizations who decided to create a mentorship program, the OKR for that may look like our objective is to provide emerging leaders with opportunities for development through effective mentorship. Key result number one could be mentors and mentees participate in at least 90% of their scheduled mentoring sessions each month. Key result number two could be that our employee engagement score for participants will increase by at least 20% at the conclusion of the mentorship program. Best practice is usually to have three to five key results. And again, they all need to be specific, time bound, and measurable, and it always goes back to the purpose behind the program.
Thanks so much for that question. I hope that that really helps you clarify and define what measures you all are setting for success within your organization. And regardless of what expectations and measurements you do set, as with any type of organizational change management, getting alignment and agreement on those goals with the key stakeholders within your organization is absolutely critical. So be sure to share those, involve people in the conversation, make sure that you have a good understanding of everyone’s expectations as you’re going through and you’re defining what measures you’re gonna hold this program accountable to. So best of luck I look forward to following along and seeing where you all land with that.
And folks, those are all of the questions that we have for today. I really enjoyed kind of diving in talking with folks along the way as I sought to understand more about the questions that they asked. I am so grateful for folks who took the time to submit those questions and really appreciate the people who have reached out and shared their feedback on previous episodes. I’ve had the chance to look at some really great professional development plans from folks who are using the template shared in previous episodes and who have taken the predictive index assessment, which again is available for anyone listening to this series to take. You can take that by clicking on the link in the show notes, and you’ll get a copy of your very own predictive index behavioral assessment, which is a great tool to use in the mentorship process.
Thanks again for tuning into this episode of Bridge the Gap, Podcast for Senior Living. I’m Anthony Ormsbee-Hale, I look forward to seeing you next time on the podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. For a full library of episodes, visit BTGvoice.com.