how to mentorTaking an informal mentoring role in support of someone else is easy, and you can start in minutes. Plus you get the chance to help shape the direction of someone else’s path, and that is an exciting prospect. Today I’m going to talk about how you can do this in your own life to bring inspiration and guidance to someone else.

The Scale

The first reason I always hear from others as to why they don’t think they can mentor anyone is that they aren’t “good enough” to be credible. Here’s the truth–based on your experiences, education, interests, and values, you have something to offer someone.

When I started out, I thought the same thing. Then I learned that we’re all working on a scale. Let’s use running for example (hey, I love it enough to write a book on it, I might as well use it here).

I have been running for years. While I am not an Olympic-level athlete, I have picked up a significant amount of practical experience and understand the do’s/don’ts.

Recently a friend asked if I would run with his nephew, a talented high school sophomore runner with little training experience under his belt. I knew it would be a fun experience, so I immediately accepted. In the past few weeks I’ve been running with him and teaching him some of the basics of training.

If we want to think of a 10-point scale, I might be a 7 in terms of experience. He falls more around a 2. While I am not at the pinnacle of the running world, I might as well be in his view.

In a similar vein, if a new runner joins the team this year, this young man is in a position to mentor that person based on what knowledge and experience he is accumulating daily. Someone starting out as a 1 would look at someone higher up (even at a level 2 on the scale) as someone with experience to offer.

I’ve also applied this approach in leading a Bible study for some friends. I’m not a scholar, but I have enough basic knowledge to pull insights from the material and share them with others by adding some context. On that scale I feel like a 3 or 4, but for anyone below that, they are hungry to hear what I can share. Likewise, I’m always listening to those that I feel are more knowledgeable so that I can improve my own understanding on a regular basis.

Your Turn

Think about any area of your life–spiritual, career, financial, physical, marital… Someone around you can use some support from you. Even if you’re “only” a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1 through 10, you have something to offer.

The final piece of advice is important: people have to be open to receiving your input. If you are trying to dump advice on people who are not interested in listening, then you’re wasting your time and theirs, and you’re harming any future relationship with that person. If you offer something, wait to see how they respond. If they’re welcoming of the input and seem open to more, then keep it coming.

We can all make the world a better place through small actions like these. It doesn’t take a huge revolutionary shift–many small ones will do the trick just the same.

Who are you going to influence today? 

Oops! I just realized that the video and audio tracks were separated slightly in the recording/uploading process. Now the video looks like a bad Japanese movie. If you can ignore that part, the rest of the video is worth the listen, though. :-)

(Subscribers may need to click through to see the video)

Video notes

I’m learning a lot in our local SHRM chapter mentoring program, and not to discount our speakers or leaders (both fantastic), but one of the greatest pieces for me is meeting other people with a thirst for knowledge and the willingness to reach for it. The other participants are top notch and I’m extremely blessed to be a part of the group.

What have we covered so far?

  • Developing an elevator speech to communicate your job to the CEO
  • Social Styles-how you interact and communicate with others
  • Branding
  • Controlling costs and impacting the bottom through benefit administration
  • Public sector HR-much more interesting than it sounds!

One of the most interesting ideas I’ve pulled from the experience?

There’s big power in small groups.

Quotes from other participants

For me, I\’ve enjoyed getting to talk more in depth about HR topics, challenges, etc.  I\’ve also appreciated the “safe” environment provided to ask questions. I also judge NMU has fostered lifelong professional relationships. Christine Beldner

Being in HR some how entitles you to have an interesting work life. There are some situations that arise and you seriously feel that you are the only one who has ever had to deal with some crazy situation. Being in the NMU has helped me realize I am not alone. (As cliché as it may sound.) Through our meetings I have been able to note who has dealt with similar situations and have been able to rely on more experienced peers for advice.

HR may be a career where ‘interesting\’ stories are your day-to-day life and your friends or family might not be able to relate; but your HR friends and family can relate and probably top your most ‘interesting\’ story with one of their own! Karen Still

If you’re interested in getting into the NASHRM Mentor University group next year (if you’re local!), just stay tuned for more updates as the year progresses. If you’re not local, but you’d like to start a group for your own chapter, feel free to email me and we can chat! It’s an amazing tool for a young HR professional, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Whoa! What a title, huh? I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I’d like to ask if you have an onboarding program. How do you introduce new people to your organization?

A few well-known onboarding methods:

  • Is it by tossing them a manual with instructions to “read through and ask questions?”
  • Do you make them watch a video or slideshow detailing the long (AKA boring) history of your organization?
  • Or do you surround them with people who are willing and able to help, guide, and provide the support necessary to prepare them as a representative of your brand and an employee of your company?

In case it wasn’t totally clear, the last one was supposed to be the “right” answer, if there even is one. I was reading this really old book a few days back, and I ran across this great explanation. Onboarding isn’t new, and people have been doing it the right way (and the wrong way) for many years. Check it out:

See that? I’ll repeat it for you.

This company undertakes to form an intimate and personal contact with its new employees… This personal touch is regarded as all important.

Why do I care?

My organization is of medium size, but our employees are scattered to the far corners of the state. Creating and sharing a new onboarding program is something I’ve been increasingly interested in recently. A few other resources I’ve found:

Have anything more you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your ideas for what makes an onboarding program succeed (or fail).

HRevolutionEvery month at NASHRM Mentor University each individual gets to share something about what’s going on in their life/work. This month I proudly shared about the HRevolution event I’ll be attending later this week. Not only will I be going to Chicago for the first time, I will also have the opportunity to interact with more than a hundred other rock solid HR pros from across the globe.

So, what is it?

Here’s a blurb from the website.

HR social media thought leaders and practitioners from around the country will be converging for 24 hours+ of mind-bending, trend-setting discussions on HR, social media, communications, leadership/development in an unconference format that emphasizes interaction over passive listening.

Sounds neat, huh? When I helped to develop this event last year with my friend Trish McFarlane, we had no idea how popular it would become.

So, why do you care?

We all know that the use of social media is affecting our work. I believe it has the power to fundamentally change how many things work in our organizations. For instance, it has an effect on:

  • Employer Branding
  • Employee Communications
  • Workplace Culture
  • And more!

I helped to found this unconference in order to teach others. This weekend, that’s definitely going to happen. I’ll be speaking on blogging, and we have others who will be doing recruiting, diversity, healthcare, and other more traditional tracks.

It’s too late for me to go. What can I do?

We’re really hoping to gather as much video and audio as possible to share, because I know this stuff is too valuable to let it just disappear into the ether when the event is over. Stay tuned and I’ll do what I can to let you know what sort of great things I learn this weekend.

If you have any questions about social media use in your own organization, I’d love if it you would let me know. I bet I can help you find an answer!

Want to get mentored? Well, you’ll have to wait until next year. This year’s participants in the NASHRM mentor project were announced last week, and I am thrilled to be on that exclusive list. The mastermind of this project, Rusty Brand, passed along this comment:

We believe that the mentor program has the potential to bring tremendous value to the career development of our members.  NASHRM has been considering the idea for a few years and we are excited to get it off the ground in 2010 under the title of Mentor University.  The plan is to utilize a variety of approaches including group, peer, and flash mentoring as well as the more traditional approach.  HR Pros will have a chance to network and engage in a smaller forum and focus their time on areas/topics that are of interest to them, helping them to take the next step within their respective careers.  Its going to be a lot of fun!

Someone asked me the other day why I would use my own limited time and money for this project. My reply: why not?!? You probably know how hard it is to break into the HR field and advance through the ranks. This experience is going to put some of that hard-to-reach information at the fingertips of the next generation of HR leaders. If the others are as excited as I am about this, then it’s going to rock.

One thing that really excites me about NASHRM Mentor University is that the leaders have purposefully kept the group small enough to encourage discussion and interaction. That’s one thing I learned at HRevolution earlier this month. The smaller sessions encouraged a lot of ideas and chatting, but the larger groups were more subdued. The smaller the group is, the more people can absorb and interact. Look for some great posts to come from the interactions facilitated by Mentor University.

Last Thursday morning, I was plopped in a chair at the business administration building at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. No, I haven’t decided to return to school. But I have decided to get involved with our student chapter. Why? Because they need it.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was a recent graduate. Fresh from the college experience, I searched dutifully for my first HR position. Since we’re all professionals here, I’ll go ahead and say it: it’s pretty darn hard to get your first job in HR. Most jobs require experience, and experience only comes after you get a job. It’s a catch-22.

Anyway, back to the student chapter. They need some leadership. They need some mentoring. Because while some of them may have experience as interns, not every company treats their entry level workers as they should. And they are going to be the next generation of HR professionals.

It doesn’t take much time. Get in touch with your local SHRM chapter. Find out if you can mentor a student, speak at a student chapter meeting, or even act as the liaison between the professional and student chapters. Decide how much time you have to spare and go for it. I guarantee it will make you proud of your profession.

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SHRM Chapter Leadership Guide

We can all learn from someone

We can all learn from someone

I apologize for the problem with the post this morning. Issues have been fixed. If you see anything that’s not working correctly, let me know. Thanks!

Whether purposefully or not, leaders are mentors. As the term “leaders” implies, they are usually at the forefront of the action. And the younger and/or less experienced people in the workforce look to them for guidance. What exactly is a mentor? Well, Dictionary.com gives us this short and sweet rendition:

Mentor-a wise and trusted counselor or teacher

You can mentor someone on purpose. There are formal programs that have well-developed strategic plans and goals for these relationships. You can also mentor someone informally through your daily actions. You might not even know that you’re being observed, but leaders are hard to ignore.

Want a chance to be a mentor or a mentee? Consider starting a mentor program in your organization or in your local area. Even if it’s a group of two (mentor and mentee), it’s still worth the effort if both parties have clear expectations and “feed” the relationship regularly. And if you prefer not to start your own, then check out the mentor program that NASHRM has put together.

Have tips for developing a mentor program or on how to get the most out of the relationship? Leave a comment below so everyone can learn from your experience.