Hot or Cold? Taking the Temperature of Your Mentorship Program

Throughout the course of a mentorship program, mentors will need to perform evaluations. The purpose of evaluations can differ depending on when a mentor decides to administer them, but the overall goal is to access the effectiveness of the program.

Evaluations performed early on are a means of pinpointing specific goals and determining if objectives have been set appropriately. A pause mid-program aims to expose any weaknesses in the relationship and determine if sufficient progress is being made towards target outcomes. Both of these scenarios allow mentors to make adjustments intended to strengthen the mentorship and keep it on course.

Finally, assessments made at the tail end or culmination of the relationship give mentors and mentees an opportunity to return to the initial objectives set for the program and evaluate them based on adjustments made over the course of the relationship and how much progress was made.

Regardless of when evaluations are conducted, it’s important that both mentors and mentees maintain an open mind. The process will be successful only if both parties are willing to accept and learn from the feedback they receive.

The format of evaluation is up to you. Mentors can gauge the progress of a mentorship by administering formal questionnaires or conducting informal feedback sessions. It can be as simple as meeting over a cup of coffee and going over the original intentions set for the relationship. The most important thing is that you plan the session to achieve maximum benefit. To do that, you need to make sure you have a plan.

Creating a planned evaluation program is simple. The essential elements are to create an intention and determine how you will measure success. Here are a few tips to help you in your planning:

  • Set a purpose for the evaluation program. If you plan to conduct multiple sessions, make sure both you and your mentee understand the goal for each session.
  • Decide how you will track goals and objectives. This should be part of your overall mentorship plan and will be especially useful when it comes time to scrutinize your progress.
  • Determine how you will collect evaluation data. You may devise a system of your own or opt to use survey software.
  • Incorporate worksheets for program planning and interaction during sessions. These will be useful for prompting feedback and recording lessons learned.

You can probably think of even more elements that are important to a strong evaluation program. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Every mentee is different and responds to feedback in different ways. Use what you learn about your mentee to determine how best to assess their satisfaction of the program and whether or not they are getting what they wanted out of your relationship. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Tune in: The Importance of Listening in Mentoring

There is a famous saying that goes, “One who listens need not say much." Listening is an essential quality of a good mentor.

A mentor must understand, interpret, evaluate, and then react to what a mentee is saying. This calls for mentors to be great listeners. The power of listening can benefit mentors and mentees in sharing knowledge and learning more about each other.  A mentor who listens with patience will be more effective in their role by being approachable and liked by many. 


  • When mentors patiently listen to their mentees, they’ll better understand the emotions weaved into the conversation. This in turn helps mentors prepare suitable mentoring programs. Responses like “I believe you seek more motivation,” “You sound very discouraged,” or “We need to create a balance in work and life” make mentees feel better connected to their mentors.
  • The quality of being a good listener is very helpful for a mentor in an organization where mentoring programs are a regular practice. The greater the number of people in an organization, the tougher it becomes to connect with all of them equally. Listening becomes a great way to understand areas of concern for the group and mentors can design program activities geared towards solving them. 

There are a few tips that can help mentors become better listeners:

  1. Create a no-diversion atmosphere: Mentors must listen to mentees in the same way they would like to be listened to. Mentors can promote this by creating an atmosphere with no diversion, undivided attention, and honest conversation. The more a mentor is open to listening, the more a mentee will be comfortable in sharing.
  2. Specific conduct in program sessions: If mentors present themselves as listeners, mentees are encouraged to talk during the program sessions. For example, if a mentor is asked questions in a written format, he/she should read the questions carefully, seek clarity for unclear parts, and prepare an answer. By paying attention to specific questions asked of them, mentors are in a better position to understand the problem. If lots of questions are asked in a session, a mentor should take some time to answer each one of them and not hurry. If some questions require more time, mentors can address these after the session. Remember, a question can be irrelevant but not unimportant.
  3. Ask questions using the right words: Even mentors need answers to understand their mentees. When constructing questions, mentors should stay focused, clear, and stick to the subject. They should use the right words directed towards gaining helpful answers. Mentoring relationships are sensitive and evolving, so it’s important to maintain clear communication to avoid incorrect judgments and assumptions.
  4. Maintain an unbiased approach: A good mentor listens to not just one side of a situation, but all sides. He/she takes a 360-degree view and attempts to understand their mentee by putting themselves in their mentee’s shoes.
  5. Body language is the key: Half a mentor’s job is done if their gestures indicate undivided attention to their mentees. Physical actions like leaning in, nodding, making eye contact, and folding hands are great signals to mentees that their mentor wants to listen, guide, and support the mentee throughout the mentoring process. 

A true mentor will listen to their mentees, make them feel important, and help them achieve their goals. 



From Start to Finish: Transforming Graduates Into Entrepreneurs

The argument for taking the reins of your career in your own hands (i.e. becoming an entrepreneur) rather than signing on with a big corporation is becoming more and more convincing. Just this week, an article in The Huffington Post entitled “Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be an Entrepreneur” encouraged college graduates to “start their own companies and be masters of their own destinies,” or, at the very least, to join a startup working on something they believe in.

Today’s mobile market, along with easy access to advanced technology and global audiences, means that starting a business is more accessible today than it ever has been before. And people are starting to pay attention. Conversations about entrepreneurship are becoming more common. Gone are the days when recent graduates would automatically seek out corporate employment immediately after college. Instead, they’re weighing their options.

In "Mentoring: An Entrepreneur's Ticket to Startup Success," we talked about the importance of mentorship to running a successful startup. In an age of entrepreneurship, aspiring businessmen and women are going to need mentors more than ever. Traditional employment at a big company often comes with programs and resources designed to help employees succeed. It’s common for a company workforce to have access to resources like internal and external training, workshops, cross-training, brainstorming sessions, seminars and conferences, human resources, and career advice.

But when you’re venturing out on your own, it’s up to you to find the resources you’ll need to reach your goals. If you’ve never worked in business before and have only your education to draw from, this can be a daunting task.

The solution is to find someone who’s been there, and then ask him or her to teach you everything they know. In other words, find a mentor, maybe even two.

In order to start a business, you’ll need to learn things like how to build a brand, how to market your product or service, how to allocate resources, how to design a business model, and how to take risks, among other things. The chances of finding one person who possesses all the knowledge you’ll need to be a successful entrepreneur are slim, so don’t limit yourself to just one mentor.

Your mentors don’t all have to be entrepreneurs, either. Certainly you should seek guidance from someone who can help you navigate the uncertain waters of starting your own company, but you can also gain valuable knowledge from people who have expertise in other areas important to running a business, like marketing, finance, sales, and human resources. The more you know about the inner workings of a business, the more successful you’ll be in running your own.

Entrepreneurship is becoming a realistic alternative to employment for today’s graduates. More and more schools are incorporating entrepreneurship programs into their course offerings, and the plethora of organizations, workshops, books, and start-ups geared toward supporting entrepreneurship—both online and offline—means that aspiring entrepreneurs have access to more tools and resources than ever before. Pair all of this with the proper guidance, as well as a hefty dose of dedication and hard work, and you’ll be on your way to realizing your dreams of starting a business you’re proud to put your name on. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Mentoring a Younger Generation: A Lesson in Growth

As we grow and advance within our careers, it’s important to continue learning and adding to our skillset. This couldn’t be truer for professional mentors, individuals who serve as a continuing source of guidance for a younger generation of aspiring business professionals.

 People just getting started on building a career don’t possess nearly as much knowledge or experience as someone acting as a mentor, and they certainly don’t yet have the skills they’ll need to become a master in their chosen field. What they do possess is a healthy understanding of what is current.

A good number of them are aware of emerging technologies and the latest new gadget out on the market. They’re open to change and understand that they’ll have to do a lot of it to get to where they want to go in their careers. They know how to converse and collaborate with their peers, and they can relate to the demands and interests of a younger generation.

This may be true of students right out of college or young businessmen and women working on building a career. A mentor’s job is to guide these individuals along the path to success, and their instruction can only be improved by a continuing education in and knowledge of what is important to their mentees.

There are a few things mentors can do to ensure they’re able to supplement their expertise with a fresh perspective that is relatable and relevant to younger mentees:

Grow with the times: Innovate and keep up with current technology. Many things will change over the course of a career, including management styles, workplace culture, and technology. It can be hard to accept these changes as necessary for growth, but mentors who do will have a much better understanding of the world their mentees live in.

Hone your communication skills: Being able to converse with mentees is paramount to a successful mentorship. This is not always an easy task, since people communicate in different ways and a younger generation my have a completely different understanding of what serves as communication. Mentors should educate themselves on popular forms of communication, as well as different communication styles.

Be open to serendipity: It can be easy to grow comfortable and complacent in what you know, to only seek mentees within your organization or department. But mentors who keep themselves open to opportunities they may not otherwise have recognized will be more flexible and ultimately more rounded in their mentorships. Be open to mentees from unlikely sources that may seek you out for guidance.

Let the young teach you: Chances are there are quite a few younger employees within your organization. Make it a point to visit with them, talk with them, and learn what their interests are. Find out what’s going on in their world and how you can learn from it. You’ll not only open yourself up to gaining knowledge valuable to future mentorships, but you’ll become a trusted presence in their eyes; a senior colleague who actually cares what they think.

Embrace change: It goes without saying that if you want to be relevant to a younger generation, you have to choose to accept change. If you cling to old habits, methods, beliefs, and technologies, you’ll only succeed in alienating yourself from the people you hope to lead. Mentees benefit from the knowledge you gained in your world, but they’ll only succeed if they can apply it to theirs.

A mentor’s role is two-part: to educate their charges on how to excel in their careers and reach their goals, and to educate themselves on what is important and relevant to the individuals they seek to guide. You'll gain the trust of mentees more quickly and demonstrate to them that you care about the concerns of the world they live in and the challenges they face in advancing in their career. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Parallels: Drawing Comparisons Between Youth Mentoring and Business Mentoring

A lot of research into the impact of mentoring on success has been done on youth mentoring, either at a college level or earlier. This research has proven that mentoring itself is highly transformative and can have a significant impact on the future success of a mentee. What if we could transfer that value to business?

Many people just starting out in their careers are young and impressionable, eager to soak up knowledge and learn how to climb to the top. This is a vulnerable time for young professionals, and having a mentor to look to for support and guidance can have a lasting change on their development and future success.

With youth mentoring, the goal is to provide mentees with a trusted adviser—a friend, in many ways—and someone they can look up to. Mentors tap into their many years of life and work experience and use it to help their charges find their way in the world.

Apply these values to business and you paint a very similar picture: a young person is matched with an experienced professional whose job it is to transfer their knowledge and experience to their charge.

Many of the lessons of youth mentoring are also transferrable to business mentoring. Throughout the course of the mentorship, mentees learn how to build valuable relationships, beginning with the relationship they forge with their mentor. They’re taught to respect other people’s time and resources, and to value the guidance and instruction of someone more experienced than they are. Mentees also learn how to connect with others and grow their network of contacts, a skill that builds character and self-confidence. These lessons are identical in business mentoring, where the primary goal is to teach young people how to thrive and excel in their careers.

What’s more, the rewards of youth mentoring are also realized by business mentors. Being a trusted resource and having a true impact on someone else’s life is extremely gratifying, and many business professionals take pride in doing the meaningful work of being a mentor.

Even the challenges of business mentoring are similar to those of youth mentoring. One of the most important goals of mentoring as a whole is to match mentees with the right mentors. This isn’t always an easy task with youth mentoring, and it can be difficult with business mentoring as well. The task is made easier with tools like MentorCloud, which matches mentors and mentees based on their backgrounds, goals, and expectations. Youth mentors also face challenges keeping their charges engaged, maintaining the momentum of the relationship, and keeping communication active and interesting­­—all hurdles business mentors must overcome.

Just like a new school or neighborhood, the new workplace can be a scary place. Mentoring goes a long way towards making it less scary and more enjoyable. We might be more used to the idea of youth mentoring than we are business mentoring, but with all the technology and resources we have at our fingertips, we are primed to transfer all the success of youth mentoring to the business place. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Short-cut to Mastery: Circumventing 10,000 Hours


In his book, Outliers, popular journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory of “10,000 hours.” The theory holds that it takes a person ten thousand hours of targeted practice in a field to achieve mastery. There are some who agree with Gladwell’s theory and some who have gone to great lengths to disprove it, but assuming that Gladwell is right, that it does take a great deal of time and study to master a field, how does one go about gathering the knowledge they need to become a master?

To begin with, what does 10,000 hours of dedication really look like? It depends. It can span the length of an entire career. If you start early, in adolescence, say, you have a better chance of achieving mastery by your twenties. But most people are already in their twenties when they decide to master something, and some (those career-changers, for example) are even older.

So let’s break it down to something manageable. If you’re someone who is just starting out in his/her career, or perhaps you’ve worked for a time and now you want to master a new field, chances are you’re spending the bulk of your day working for an income. You probably have other responsibilities and interests too, like grocery shopping, cleaning your house or apartment, and socializing from time to time.

Realistically you probably only have about five hours available to study each day. If you calculate that number in terms of days, that’s 2,000 days of study, or just under 5 & 1/2 years. You’ll probably take a day off here and there, or study less than five hours some days. It’s also possible that your day job could be considered study in your chosen field, so maybe you count some of those hours towards the 10,000. Either way, you’re looking at a great deal of time before you can consider yourself a master in your field.

Given all this, wouldn’t it be nice if you could hit the fast-forward button? What if you could gain some of that knowledge and wisdom from someone who’s been there before you? You’d effectively save yourself the time and effort it would take to research or learn important lessons all on your own.

This is exactly what mentoring offers: a way to accelerate the learning of knowledge and the gaining of wisdom required to become a master in your career. In a way, your mentor has already done the bulk of the work for you. They’ve spent innumerable hours building a career and learning the dos and don’ts of success. Their wisdom is first-hand, not gleaned from a book, and their experience is real and tangible. What’s more, you can ask them questions and present scenarios, thereby gaining knowledge that would otherwise be difficult to get from a book.

No matter how many hours you decide to spend becoming a master in your chosen career, it’s the quality of time that matters far more than the quantity. There's no arguing that practice plays a huge role in success, so you should study the ins and outs of your field and read up on best practices and case studies. But consider bolstering your studies by enlisting the aid and guidance of a mentor, a trusted professional who can transfer the hours they’ve invested in their own career directly to you. You’ll surpass the limits of theory and take your career progression in your own hands. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Offline vs. Online: How Do Traditional and E-Mentoring Compare?


As mentoring becomes more and more popular in the workplace, many organizations are struggling with whether to implement a face-to-face mentoring program or a digital one. There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods, and it’s important that you understand them before moving forward with a mentoring program.

Mentoring may be described as a strategic relationship based on trust. This is true regardless of whether the mentorship takes place in person or in an online format. Trust is key no matter what the setting, and it is possible to build strong relationships both on and offline. Keep this in mind as you weigh your options.

Let’s begin with face-to-face mentoring, since it’s the traditional format and is familiar to most people.

Offline/ Face-to-Face Mentoring - Benefits and Drawbacks

The benefits of traditional mentoring are fairly straight-forward. It gives mentors and mentees a face to put to the name. Meetings are live and in-person, allowing participants to converse organically and learn each other’s personalities and mannerisms. Many people are still more comfortable talking with a live person than they are typing on a computer, since it feels more personal and authentic. Gaining answers to important questions and working on tasks can be easier in person, since both participants are present and focused.

The primary drawback to traditional mentoring is that it is restricted to geographical proximity. Mentors and mentees must live and/or work near each other to make regular in-person meetings feasible. This inevitably means that concerns about location, availability, and convenience come into play.

In addition to limitations brought on by geographical necessity, communication between mentors and mentees can be limited with traditional mentoring. This is because younger or inexperienced businessmen and women often feel nervous or shy and end up holding back when they should be asking questions or offering information. Face-to-face interactions with a powerful and experienced professional can be intimidating to someone who is just starting out in their field.


Online / E-mentoring – Benefits and Drawbacks

E-mentoring eliminates the geographical barriers presented by traditional mentoring. Mentors can meet any time, anywhere. Meetings can be scheduled on the fly and conducted in numerous formats. If a mentee has a question, they can simply ping their mentor and check back later for the answer. Advances in technology, such as mentor/mentee matching, video conferencing, and mobile technology have made it possible to start and carry out an effective mentorship entirely online, without mentors and mentees have ever met in person.

E-mentoring allows participants to easily share networks and resources, as well as effectively track the mentorship as it progresses. All history of communication is in one place and accessible to both mentor and mentee at any time. In this sense, e-mentoring allows a mentorship to be even more “live” than traditional mentoring.

The drawbacks of e-mentoring are few, but they must be considered when implementing a new mentoring program. By its very nature, e-mentoring requires both mentors and mentees to have easy access to technology, such as a computer or lap top, a reliable Internet connection, and a means of communication, like a mentoring platform, email service, or video conferencing program. Access to these components is growing around the world, but their necessity can still present a challenge to some people.

Interacting in a digital format can sometimes present challenges to engagement. E-mentoring requires a certain level of self-direction that can be difficult for employees who are used to receiving instruction and having their work planned out for them. E-mentoring—and traditional mentoring, too—requires active participation from both mentor and mentee, and ensuring there a high level of engagement should always be a primary goal with any mentoring relationship.

If you're considering implementing a new mentorship program into the workplace, consider both the benefits and the drawbacks of the different formats. Talk to your managers and employees about what they hope to achieve from the program and how it can best be designed to meet their needs. It may be that you choose to take elements from traditional and e-mentoring and combine them to devise a unique mentoring program garnered for the success of your team. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.





Sowing the Seeds of Confidence in Mentees

Employees just starting out in business don’t always know where their strong points are. Many young professionals fall into roles that don’t challenge them. Their work becomes monotonous, leading to boredom and disengagement after a period of time. Some employees feel out of place or aimless, and even though they might be passing up an opportunity to earn valuable experience and a good paycheck, they nevertheless decide to move on.

Here is the question that arises: What if these things affect several employees? What if they affect the whole workforce? The company operates with a team of less-than-motivated employees, unable to foster the strong and effective relationships of a dynamic workforce because no one sticks around long enough to lay the groundwork.

In the meantime, promising individuals move on without having realized their true potential or value to the organization. Pairing incoming employees, especially those who seem lost or dejected in their day-to-day activities, can make all the difference in tackling this problem at its core.

Mentors understand the difficult task of finding your “place” in the business world. Chances are it took them a good amount of time, along with the directed guidance of a mentor of their own, to find the niche they were able to thrive in. This is exactly the experience and knowledge a mentor can transfer to a mentee. Their service extends beyond simple career advice to helping mentees grow as individuals with the confidence and direction they need to find a role they can excel in. Mentors bolster early career development in numerous ways, but let's go over a few of the most important ones:


Opening lines of communication

A mentor serves as a source of support to his/her mentees and can be a confidant for all career-related matters. This opens up lines of communication where mentees can express their thoughts and doubts—whether it be about their career goals or the role they are currently in—without fear. Over a period of time, mentees lose their inhibitions and learn to communicate freely with their mentors and colleagues.

Extending professional connections

Individuals just starting out in their careers don’t have many business connections to draw from. This can make them feel alone and unsure of what connections to make or where to start building relationships. On the other hand, an experienced mentor has a vast network of professional peers and trusted colleagues to work with. When mentors and mentees build good relationships, mentees have a unique opportunity to expand their networks by tapping into a resource that has been developed over many years.

Boosting morale

Greener employees are often reserved by nature, since they’re still learning to build confidence in their work and abilities. Employees working in new environments or roles they are unsure of can be especially prone to withdrawing from the team and convincing themselves they’re not good enough. Mentors have worked in many roles and most likely in various organizations throughout their careers, and they undoubtedly experienced bouts of low morale along the way. Mentors remind mentees that they have value, they’re not alone, their feelings are normal and common, and that they can learn to be confident and proactive in their careers.

Offering advice on workplace know-how

When new employees first join a workplace, they tend to lay low and exist on the sidelines. Most new hires are reluctant to ask for help. The result is that they build a reputation for having reservations and low self-confidence. They inevitably miss out on opportunities to advance within the organization, to build their skills, and to try out new roles that might suit them better. A mentor has the power to remedy this problem before it even begins. By encouraging their mentees to speak up, ask questions, and take risks, mentors teach mentees to mold their own reputations. Their extensive years working in business also means they can smooth the road by helping mentees understand organizational rules, culture, and protocols.   

New employees need a healthy dose of positive reinforcement to build a sense of well being in the workplace. A strong mentor/mentee relationship will give it to them. Mentees will gain a better understanding of their own potential as well as what role they best fit into within their chosen organization. They’ll learn to know their own value and how that translates to having the confidence to create direction in their careers. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.



Mentor Matching: Choosing Mentors That Are Right for You

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Ursula Burns, Chairwoman and CEO at Xerox, names ”great leadership” as one of the essential characteristics of a company’s success. She should know: Burns has been working for the document giant since 1980 and running it since 2009. She knows a thing or two about great leadership and what it takes to achieve it. In fact, Burns was recently featured in an article by Fast Company in which she makes the case that mentors—and not just any mentors, but the right mentors—make leaders.

Burns’s story of humble beginnings and triumphant success demonstrates how anyone, given hard work and the right guidance, can realize their leadership goals. She’s at the top now, sure, but she wasn’t always there, and she credits her mentors for putting her on track to becoming the woman she is today. Burns advises aspiring leaders to start early and be proactive in finding guidance from those who are most suited to launch a specific career.

Part of Burns’s philosophy is the importance of building relationships through trust and open communication. If someone wants to find the right mentor, they must be clear and honest about their goals, what they hope to gain, and what they bring to the relationship. A mentee is not going to succeed with just anyone, which is why the process of matching mentor and mentee based on their skills, areas of expertise, experience, career goals, and expectations is so important.

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Like Burns, we at MentorCloud believe that pairing mentees with the right mentors is fundamental to both effective mentorships and career success. The advantage that today’s rising leaders have over Burns is that they no longer have to seek out suitable mentors all on their own.

Mentees can now harness technology to access global networks like MentorCloud and tap into pools of expertise that were heretofore inaccessible. An organization cut off by a strict hierarchy of executives, managers, supervisors, and direct reports is suddenly transformed into an open system of communication and knowledge sharing. Likewise, entire divisions of employees are brought together in ways that were once rendered impossible by geographical boundaries.

Burns learned the value of selecting the right mentors early on, and once she had the right support, she never looked back. Her success is a testament to the power of mentorship where it is most suited. Business professionals who see themselves as future leaders should take note and align themselves with the right mentors. You never know. You just might find yourself matched with a powerful leader like Ursula Burns.  

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.