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Everything you need to know about the #powerofmentoring, powered by MentorCloud. 

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Managers as Mentors: A Recipe For Higher Engagement & Retention

Every company is unique, so it makes sense that its mentoring needs might differ from the standard model. With today's ultra-competitive workforce though, it's imperative that whatever form it takes, some sort of business mentoring program must be established. This allows for high-potential managers to transfer wisdom and foster talent through mentoring relationships within his or her organization, setting all parties up for success. 

For a diversity of reasons, mentoring relationships can be mutually satisfying for both managers and employees. From a personal standpoint, effective managers and team leaders can serve as role models, who teach attitudes and behavior, lead conversations that provide insight, and stimulate development. From a metrics-driven perspective, teams guided by efficient managers outperform other teams. With exceptional manager mentors, employee engagement and perform can go up exponentially. 

On that note, creating a mentoring program can be the first step towards improving employee engagement long-term. When the confidence and skills of managers improve through mentoring and other initiatives, the managers are able to ignite that same confidence and enthusiasm throughout their team. Mentoring, as part of the leadership development program, gives managers the confidence and competence to work most productively but supportively with their team, in doing so increasing engagement at the group level. If your manager regularly checked in with your projects, obstacles, and goals, chances are that you would feel more socially connected and properly guided within your organization, leading to more job satisfaction and fewer turnovers. 

Most people are busy, so finding time to sit down for a mentoring conversation can be difficult and even intimidating to the subordinate. In order to instill the most open form of communication, managers must remember to keep the conversation light and informal, creating opportunities to extend normal interaction into purposeful engagement. 

With all of that said, what do you think about mentoring? Does your manager also mentor efficiently, or could they use some help as well? Seek the help of expert mentors through MentorCloud, and enable your managers to learn the tips necessary to support you in your career aspirations as well. 

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Why Small Business Founders Need Mentors

Startup founders are perpetually busy establishing their businesses, developing growth strategies for existing operations, building networks, and creating partnerships to help their enterprises grow. If you're a founder, you are responsible for making all of the crucial decisions. For first-timers, it can be difficult to adjust to changing circumstances and new business equations. Do you sense unforeseeable challenges? Are you feeling the pressure of being the one-man army in your business?

The unfortunate truth is that 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years. Why? To a large extent, it is due to founder’s lack of business experience. We're sure no one wants to be on the losing end of that equation! Therefore, it’s time you seek the expert opinion of a mentor. Being able to consult with a mentor, particularly someone who intimately knows what you’re going through, can be invaluable. A mentor can help you refine your business strategy, map out the right direction for your business, and assist in setting goals for your business to succeed.

An important Gallup survey indicates that those who have access to a mentor are three times more likely to say that they are planning to start a business than those who do not have a mentor.

Which brings us to the most important question: Who is a business mentor, and why do you need them?

Take a look at successful businesses around you. The one thing that lies at the heart of their stories is that all of them had professional mentors watching their back before they launched their businesses. For successful small business owners, a mentoring guru can and should be their springboard.

By finding your area of interest and absorbing advice from people who have been successful in their own small business, you can get a sense of what the work is like on a day-to-day basis. You get to learn what has worked for them in the past and what failed. Business mentors can help you look at problems and situations from perspectives you may not have considered. As a founder, you may have trouble looking at your business through the eyes of your customer. Your business mentor will help you deal with this and understand your customer’s perspective.

Your mentor will open many doors for you. You will get to meet potential partners, customers, and decision-makers in your target market. Getting introduced to new connections via your mentor, rather than meeting them randomly at an event, adds great value and legitimacy to the business prospects.

The bottom-line is that mentoring is a net positive experience. If you’re just getting started down the path to business ownership, MentorCloud can be your perfect guide.  Seeking the help of expert mentors through MentorCloud can bring incredible value to you and your small business, so schedule a demo today!

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How To Use Collaboration For High Employee Engagement

If you're an employer who claims to communicate well with your employees, you might want to check with them first. Your definition of effective communication may differ drastically from those of your employees.

Quick questions to ask yourself: Do your employees engage actively in conversations? Do you have workplace mentors to initiate effective internal communication? Have you recommended two-way mentoring to your employees? Does mentoring tackle other complex human resource challenges in your organization? If not, it’s time to take another look at your company!

Effective internal communication programs are the life and blood of any successful company. But unfortunately, the truth is that a majority of companies spend millions of dollars on their external communication plans, while failing to create an effective mentoring strategy to improve internal communication.

The famous Gallup study highlights the disappointing state of organizations worldwide with only 13 percent of employees engaged at work. Another study by Towers Watson claim that companies with the most effective employee communication had 48 percent higher shareholder returns over the last five years as compared to those with the least effective internal communication.

Well-meaning staff and proper mentoring tactics positively influence employee engagement by generating ideas, forging strong relationships, and making a real difference in your organization’s growth.

Consider the below practices to engender good communication amongst employees in your organization:

One-way mentoring: Mentors can make a huge difference in improving internal communication between the ranks. Mentoring is a great vehicle for value-sharing and knowledge transfer from senior members to associates seeking to move up. 

Two-way mentoring: This advanced form of mentoring is a win-win situation in which older employees share their experience and expertise while the younger ones give insights on engaging with their generation and the new times, technologies, and perspectives. 

Create a culture of initiating meaningful conversations: Try to be transparent and straightforward in explaining the challenges faced by your business. Not only does this promote transparency and trust between the employer and the employee, but it also fosters dialogues and conversations at lower levels in your organization.

Engaging employees with the right story: Before initiating any meaningful communication, you need to create an open space for your employees and prepare their minds to welcome something new. Storytelling can be a great way to get the employees’ attention. Rather than talking about something that is important to you or to the organization, tell a relevant story using an example that matters to them. 

Update your employees regularly:  If you want your employees to build trust in you and your organization during rough patches, you have to earn their trust. This is possible through a strong relationship. Remember: relationships are like checking accounts - in order to make a withdrawal, you first need to make a deposit. Build a great bond with your employees by keeping them updated about all the ups and downs that your organization is going through. This will help them understand the challenges better and maybe inspire them to come up with innovative solutions to tackle those challenges.

Take the help of technology: Choose your vehicle depending upon the desired outcome and the target audience. While some companies use intranets, others use Yammer or Ning, and some prefer simple email messaging.

Feedback goes both ways: Encourage your employees to comment and ask questions. Grab this opportunity to answer them in an open and honest manner. Whether you hold it in an old-fashioned town hall meeting, a question box, or organize a Skype conference, employees expect a chance to ask you questions and to be answered. Through this, you can initiate a better two-way conversation.

Brainstorm: Create a fun space where team members can think outside the box to voice their ideas without the fear of rejection. Keep a record of those ideas, and decide how to use them in future to improve the internal communication in your organization.

Looking for more tips on effective communication? Seek the help of expert mentors within the MentorCloud network. Engage with the right people and foster meaningful collaboration in your organization, then tell us what you found the most effective!

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10 Quick Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Every entrepreneur needs mentors to be successful. But business mentors are very busy, so it's imperative to figure out how to make the best use of their limited time. How? Be proactive in understanding how they can help and maintaining a healthy relationship with them. A mentor cannot make every decision for you; s/he can only be a motivator who gives valuable suggestions when you need them.

What you should ask your mentor?

1. How does s/he spend time outside of work? This helps gather insights about the interests and tastes of your mentor.

2. How would s/he respond to a current dilemma? Remember that mentors have been mentees themselves, so they likely have had valuable advice passed on and are more than willing to do the same for you. 

3. How can you help them? Never assume that only the mentor should help the mentee, even the mentee can provide insight on the mentor's own behavior. Be confident and ask if you can help your mentor in any way possible.

4. What constructive criticism can s/he provide you? Give some space for your mentor to give feedback on your work performance right at the very beginning of your relationship.

5. Why did s/he decide to work with you? Ask for the reason why your mentor accepted you, but also be sure to answer the same question if asked by the mentor.

6. What mistakes has s/he made, either professional or personal? Everyone in the world makes mistakes, so don’t hesitate to ask your mentor about the mistakes s/he has committed (but be sure to learn the subsequent lesson as well).

7. How does s/he overcome failure? Failure is inevitable, especially in the business world. Learning how to accommodate for defeat or failure in life and how to see the positive side can save weeks or even years of stress. 

8. How does your mentor consider her/himself unique? Everyone has a different story to tell, so find out what that unique characteristic, quality, or history is. 

9. What was his/her proudest moment? Everyone is happy when speaking of his/her own achievements. Give a chance to your mentor to be proud and ask about his/her most cherished moments.

10. What can you do better? Finally, when you earn the trust and confidence of your mentor, ask him/her how you can improve. Personal development is a constantly iterative process.

At the end of your mentoring session, thank your mentor for the valuable time spent with you. Ask yourself what you learned from the session and decide together when you can have the next mentoring session. Always link the next mentoring session with the previous one, and let your mentor know how much progress you've made since. 

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Feedback Essentials: The Art of Giving and Taking Feedback

Kenneth Chenualt, CEO and Chairman of American Express, rightly pointed out that regular feedback is one of the hardest things to drive through an organization. Without a doubt, it is an imperative quality of an effective mentor. However, HR personnel and managers across industries have been dogged by the conflicting question: How can feedback, both positive and negative, be conveyed in a manner that would only improve an employee’s performance? Can a mentor deliver constructive criticism and yet make sure that the mentee is not de-motivated? Or praise a mentee in a way that ensures sustained increase of his/her outcome? How can the employee take feedback to heart professionally and still consider it as nothing personal? What gives feedback a longer shelf life, add value to the organization, and bring real change?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, as each organization performs in a distinctive dimension and every employee within it is unique. It is, however, possible for HR and managers to make the most of feedback by developing a clear understanding of why feedback is essential, what makes it a rigid entity to be delivered, and how to essentially implement technology to bring a tired performance-management process back to life.

With the development of mentoring techniques, there has been an often misapprehended notion that feedback is only required for employees in need of serious development and grooming. Interestingly, researches reveal that incompetent individuals in a workforce are often too incompetent to even analyze their incompetency. Sadly, this holds true for talented employees, who often go without realizing their true caliber. The reality is that everyone needs feedback.

Constructive developmental advice is the most imperative facet of feedback as it helps someone perform better. In Rocky IV, a great Hollywood movie, Rocky changes the mindset of Russians with an inspirational speech towards the climax. Good mentors employ the same construct in a real-time work environment, but here they mold the mindset of an employee and improve performance through constructive feedback. While doing this, they make sure the work expectations and performance objectives are clear. They ensure that they have all the sufficient details, such as job descriptions, notes, memos, and a clear perception of the idea of the change they would like to see occur. They create a conversation that incorporates the other person's input.

Though delivering feedback is made difficult due to certain organizational structures, it also depends on human nature to a large extent. On many occasions, the immediate boss may not be closely involved in an employee’s day-to-day work and organizations are simply not set up to encourage and document feedback from others. However, a good mentor can always reach out and start off in an upbeat manner. S/he could listen actively to each response, make a suggestion or request, and then check for understanding. S/he constantly check for the receiver's understanding of the suggestion/request. Finally the mentor can enable the employee to reach a commitment on next steps.

The pain point in traditional performance-appraisal systems is that the feedback comes too rarely, too late, and from a few people. MentorCloud has been changing this equation and is shaking up traditional performance reviews in a big way. The strong network of amazing advisors, collaborative clients, and fantastic friends that include HR and managers at MentorCloud have been helping one another in the pursuit of professional and personal aspirations. Join us in our vision of building a mentoring planet.

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Newsflash: Even The Savviest Entrepreneurs Need Business Mentors

Life as an entrepreneur is, to state the obvious, an exciting experience.

However, it also is a great responsibility towards your team members, customers, investors, and most importantly, your family. How to attract the top talent and guide them into achieving great things for the company? What is the right business model that maximizes adoption and revenue? How to grow the company with minimal resources? How to create positive impacts for beneficiary organizations? How to measure and track your progress? How much equity to give for various contributors? How to know you are not making a mistake? 

These are all critical questions in your entrepreneurial saga that need the fervent presence of a vested mentor to help you find real-life answers. A vested mentor is someone who has not only "been there, done that," but who more importantly has interest in your success.

A good business mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you, and one who serves as your trusted confidante over an extended period of time. While you as an entrepreneur can benefit tremendously from a mentoring relationship, the benefit a business mentor expects from this relation is accountability and acknowledging their help for your venture. A good mentoring relationship always works in both directions - it can be a Win-Win partnership. A trusted business mentor can provide a clear vision for your business, connect you with potential clients, unbiasedly point out flaws/holes in your business plan, and brainstorm on new ideas with you.

Business mentoring can be defined as a process that greatly enhances the skills of the entrepreneur in their current role and also grooms the entrepreneur to be a mentor in the future. It empowers you to make decisions that define you, your influence and your efficiency. Keeping in mind the following factors will allow you to make the most out your business mentorship.

Define clear goals for you and your venture – Identify the pain points on which you want to get advice from an external expert, and then zero in on the right mentor for the issue. A person who can successfully lead you on cost effectiveness and budget constraints may not be able to enlighten you on the best marketing strategy to adopt. So give shape to your needs or else you will land up with a bad mentor.

Hear, analyze, execute, and live up to the guidance - Mentors who are good at what they do prefer mentees who are willing to grasp and take quick actions from their advice. However, you should know the difference between blind acceptance and thoughtful practice. Comprehend the foundation of the advice and thoroughly implement action items.

Own up to your responsibility and do your homework - Remember, the best mentors are busy people, and wasting their time is something they wouldn’t accept. The best way to reach out to them is by doing thorough homework, getting a clear perspective of the issue at hand and taking small chunks of their time to talk about it. This way, you could make the best out of even the ten minutes you might get with your mentor in private.

Keep in mind the distinction between a mentor, a coach and a friend – If you expect a mentor to tell you what you want to hear, you would probably end up getting disappointed. Remember the difference between a friend and a mentor. While a mentor won’t beat around the bush and directly address the specific situation you are in, a business coach will be focused on helping you with generic skills. The same person can’t be all of these.

Update your mentor on the current scenario and the tasks at hand - Making it clear that you are following through makes a potential mentor more open to assisting you as it is positive feedback on your association.

Reach out to a business mentor who is inspirational, impressive and expert in his/her niche segment. MentorCloud has a connected network of hundreds of mentors who find immense satisfaction in sharing what they gained from the industry. They are more than happy to add value to someone else, and in the process learn about themselves and their own leadership style and influence. Having hassles operating inside a start-up? Need suggestions for perfecting your tasks inside the organization? We are at your service!

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