How to Become a Better Mentor

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

Tamra asks: When I asked my direct reports for feedback on my own performance recently, I was surprised by the answer one of them gave. He said he’d love more mentoring to help him get to the next level in his career. I feel like I always take time to check in about how my staff can improve. We have frequent one-on-ones, and I’m told I’m very approachable. How can I become a better mentor? What am I missing when it comes to mentoring them to the next level?

Joel answers: Mentoring has many dimensions, so it’s really not surprising that you’re excelling in some key ways but have room to improve in others.

Here’s what it sounds like the core issue is: It’s time to take the mystery out of the promotion process. Your people are getting a lot of support from you in their growth, but they need to know how to channel that growth into new opportunities. To become a better mentor, focus on how to provide that guidance.

Have you ever had a job in which you had no real idea of what it would take to get to the next level? If you’re now a boss, some of your people may be feeling the exact same way. Now that the tables have turned, it’s time to give them the clarity about the career advancement process that you always wanted from your own boss.

Here are three steps you can take to promote your star performers:

  1. Tell your employees exactly what you plan to do in order to help them get promoted.
  2. Give them action steps, and follow up on their progress in weekly or biweekly check-ins.
  3. Get proactive about promoting your people to your peers and those above you in the organization.
  • Know your messaging strategy around the promotion of your employees.
    To proactively share positive messages about your employees, clarify your messaging strategy. What three key traits do you want them to associate with the employee you’re promoting? Ask for her input on this, helping her to create a clear brand for herself. Consider the areas in which that person excels, as well as her goals. Consistent messaging about that employee’s brand will help her develop a strong reputation for those qualities.
  • Share impactful stories showing the value of that employee to the company.
    Think of examples of situations in which that individual has demonstrated those key qualities. Think of your favorite stories of how she saved the day or made your own life easier. Being able to tell a vivid story when you introduce her to a higher-level leader will make the intro far more memorable than “This is Jane from accounting. She does great work.” Jot down a list of favorite stories that put a spotlight on each employee’s best qualities, and keep it in the employee’s file for quick reference. If you’re sitting around the board room discussing that person’s qualifications, you’ll be prepared to eloquently explain why she’s the best candidate for promotion.
  • Set work performance goals with your employee.
    Make sure you prioritized setting work performance goals with your employees. Now, raise awareness about what your people have accomplished. Send out a monthly update to other leaders on what your team has achieved, describing what star performers have done to reach their goals. If they’ve taken important steps toward self-improvement, mention that too!
  • Introduce your employee to the key stakeholders.
    In regard to their own action steps, networking is a major priority. Come up with a list of key players across the organization for your employee to develop a rapport with. Give tips on how to approach them and where.
  • Give them detailed action steps to help improve their reputation.
    Give them homework, too, like creating a compelling elevator speech about their accomplishments. Have them rehearse it with you. Encourage them to take steps to promote their personal brand. Ask them to send you a succinct and persuasive list of major accomplishments they’ve achieved over the past year. Give them tips on how to take credit for their work, too, so it never goes unseen.
  • Find additional mentors to help them get to where they want to go.
    Employees may also need additional mentors to get to where they want to go. Connect them with mentors who can give them more guidance on their chosen path.

Even if you’re already doing some of these things, your people need to know it. When they know the specific steps you’re taking to promote them to other leaders, they’ll feel you’re part of a team that’s committed to their growth. As you learn how to be a better mentor, you’ll become a stronger leader who will motivate your people to go the extra mile to promote themselves, too.

Joel is an expert in helping bosses become better leaders who provide quality mentoring for their people. Contact him today to improve both relationships and results.

Executive Presence Training

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker

Braxton Asks: To prepare my high-performers to take on more challenging roles, my company wants to hold a leadership training event. What should we be looking for in a training meant to prepare them for executive positions?

Joel Answers: The most important quality your talent pipeline of leaders need to have to move to the next level is executive presence. By experiencing this executive presence program, leaders will acquire the necessary traits to develop their executive presence and become the elite performers who influence outcomes, contribute to major decisions, and drive change for the betterment of the company.

If you want someone to instill your star employees with the skills and presence to excel as executives, you need someone with proven expertise in training up-and-coming execs. You also need to make sure that person can give you a detailed description of the training he or she will provide, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

For example, a multi-billion-dollar biotechnology company recently contacted me for a training on executive presence to help newly minted high-potential mid-level managers reach the next level of leadership. Here’s the program and what the audience learned.

Title of the training:
Executive Presence: Four Ways to Convey Confidence and Command Respect as a Leader.

The audience learned how to:

  1. Radiate Gravitas: Be poised, confident, in command, and charismatic.
  2. Act with Authority: Be decisive, bold, accountable, and convincing.
  3. Build a Positive Reputation: Be seen as credible, trustworthy, respected, and reliable.
  4. Communicate Powerfully: Be concise, prepared, and deliver confident messages with conviction.

Often people believe that executive presence is something you’re either born with or lacking. Up-and-coming leaders need to know how to cultivate it. They need to understand the specific behaviors they can practice, day after day, in order to build the kind of executive presence they’ve admired in other leaders. In this training, I take the mystery out of executive presence so audience members can begin carefully crafting it within themselves.

Outcomes of this executive presence training:
By taking part in this program, leaders learned to carry themselves with confidence and be sure of their abilities and what they are able to produce and accomplish. They gained the confidence and respect of their co-workers and supervisors. They were assigned high-profile projects and put in situations where they can create impact and exercise influence. They gained the confidence to seize the reins in their careers.

There are thousands of speakers all over the nation, which can definitely make the selection process feel daunting. But by knowing what you want and finding a speaker who can deliver in that specific area, you’ll ensure the program will drive results.

If you want your leaders to develop executive presence, hire Joel Garfinkle. He’s the subject matter expert and has been speaking on the topic of executive presence for twenty years.

How to Book the Right Motivational Speaker

“Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” ― Gina Greenlee

Joyce, a manager at a fast-growing IT firm, had been tasked with finding the perfect motivational speaker for her company’s training seminar. She needed someone truly capable of nurturing her high-performing employees’ growth. As she surfed the web, she saw many slick websites but wondered how she could truly evaluate the quality of their work.

Selecting the right keynote speaker can mean the difference between a successful corporate conference and a colossal waste of time and money. If, like Joyce, you’re wondering how to book the right motivational speaker, you’re not alone.

Locating and booking a speaker can be overwhelming. Many speakers claim to provide keynote speeches that inspire and teach, but if you are committed to excellence, you’ll need to choose carefully. The best speakers instill not only enthusiasm, but also guidance and practical advice.

First you must determine your goal for the event. Do you wish to increase productivity among your employees or to nurture leadership in your management team, for example? Whatever your goal, you must find a keynote speaker who can deliver on it.

Want to know how to screen and book the right motivational speaker for you? Looking at these five points will help ensure you select a speaker who is the best fit for your company and your event’s objectives.

  1. Experience and credentials of the speaker.
    Although a less-experienced speaker may be more economical for your event budget, a speaker with top-notch credentials will be a better long-term investment. Which companies have hired this speaker in the past? Look for experience presenting to companies that are similar to yours in focus, philosophy, and culture. Read the testimonials on your candidates’ websites, and contact references. Look at whether the speaker has published relevant articles and books that demonstrate expertise on the issues you wish to address.
  2. Customization for the corporate training.
    To reach your conference participants, the keynote speaker must truly know your company and its people, environment, and culture. Look for someone who understands your event’s objectives and will spend significant time preparing for it by gathering information, communicating with event coordinators, and interviewing key participants. A great professional keynote speaker will be flexible, adapting the presentation to your company’s culture, your employees’ needs, and the style and tone of your event. That means when you talk with the speaker by phone or email, he should be asking you some pointed questions about your company and what you’re looking for. Choose a speaker who demonstrates that level of thoughtfulness, not someone who’s just trying to make a quick sale.
  3. Presentation format of the seminar.
    Booking the right motivational speaker means hiring someone who offers a variety of formats, from structured self-inquiry to small-group activities to facilitated audience discussions. Great speakers understand that well-chosen team-building activities can have a powerful effect on morale. Judicious use of multimedia serves as another beneficial element in a great keynote address. Strong speakers can balance video and slideshow presentations with speaking and interaction with the audience.
  4. Speaking style of the motivational speaker.
    When researching your candidates, watch a speaker’s videos of them in action. You know your company and employees, and you know what kind of speaking style will be accessible to them and their working environment. Most professional keynote speakers have videos on their websites. Watch them, and try to imagine them speaking at your event. Do they use motivational stories to create a dynamic talk, or do they dryly state their points? A speaker who races through content without pausing to gauge audience reaction can be just as ineffective as one who is plodding or hesitant. It’s important to have a speaking style that challenges and engages audiences.
  5. Immediate, measurable results for the participants.
    Conferences and seminars are designed to leave employees inspired and motivated. Your employees should be able to implement what they have learned immediately because the speaker has shown them exactly how to do that. Book a motivational speaker who will provide participants with skills that they can take straight back to their desks, so they can begin transforming your company into a more productive and profitable enterprise. In your candidates’ videos, observe whether they effectively impart new skills and tactics to their audience—and in your conversation, ask for examples!

Booking the right professional keynote speaker will make all the difference in your event, and in your company. Use these five points to choose wisely, and you’ll find a speaker who genuinely cares about driving results and has the skills to do it.

Looking to book a speaker for your next event? Hire Joel Garfinkle because he is a motivational speaker who possesses these five qualities in abundance.

High Performing Employees

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
~Jim Collins~

Arthur, a manager at a mid-size firm, read a troubling statistic: According to Harvard Business Review, one in five high-performing employees plans to leave their job in the next six months. He wanted to groom his high-performing employees for success, growing their leadership skills. But how do I know I’m not just priming them for a job with some other company? he wondered.

High-performers are 400% more productive than average employees, says the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Arthur knew he couldn’t afford to lose his best people.

Then he read another stat: High-performing employees are only a little more satisfied with their jobs than other employees. He had an epiphany: His high-performers should get more from their job and workplace than they’re currently getting. If he gave them more, he’d increase their loyalty. Working with an executive coach, Arthur devised the following strategy.

  1. Implement a Thorough Onboarding Process
    Thorough onboarding greatly improves retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). When employees understand how to contribute, they feel more satisfied—and stay longer. Onboarding ideally lasts around a year—it’s more a talent development process than an orientation, says SHRM.This process should thoroughly help employees to understand the workplace culture, how they’re evaluated, the tools at their disposal, and how their roles relate to the company’s vision, SHRM adds. Taking these steps will help mitigate the main reasons why employees leave their jobs early on.
  2. Provide Plenty of Guidance
    According to a 2015 Gallup study, half of all employees who resign leave because they don’t like their bosses. Managers who give little guidance in setting goals and priorities, and who aren’t consistently available to answer questions, are the primary reason behind their choice to leave.The younger generations of employees particularly expect a great deal of feedback and support from their supervisors. Giving them what they want will keep them from seeking it elsewhere. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with all employees to discuss their progress, challenges, and expectations.
  3. Create a Succession Plan (and Communicate It)
    If your high-performing employees don’t know your succession plan (or if you need to create one), they’re probably thinking about other career moves they can make. Involving them in the succession plan will give them more incentive to stay. Start preparing employees for more advanced roles early and pairing them with mentors who can support their development. Provide leadership training or executive coaching to help them get ready to handle the increased responsibility. Choose your trainer wisely, selecting someone who will do the legwork to understand your employees’ challenges and offers ongoing mentoring. Help your people improve their perception, visibility, and influence so they can go further.
  4. Support Flexible Career Paths
    The standard career ladder of generations past doesn’t always apply anymore. More often than not, once employees are exposed to a variety of job roles, they begin redefining their career objectives. In your one-on-one sessions, make it clear that you support such changes, as you want everyone to follow their passion. Help employees find appropriate mentors within the organization who can help them prepare for a new role, if they choose a different path.
  5. Don’t Put a Cap on Incentives
    According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of high-performing firms choose not to place a cap on bonus pay. When rewards are not capped, it signifies that the possibilities you can achieve together are unlimited.
  6. Minimize Stress
    Employees who regularly feel stressed are more likely to leave their workplaces, says the APA’s 2017 Work and Well-Being Survey. Ask your employees what creates stress for them, like organizational changes, interpersonal conflict, or work/life balance issues. Then create a plan together for addressing it. Reducing work stress will also give you more star performers, as it boosts productivity.

High-performing employees might not always stick around forever, but more of them will stay for much longer when you implement these strategies. Arthur found that when he showed employees his commitment to their success and satisfaction, they displayed a great deal of loyalty to the company as well.

Retain your high performing employees by offering them an executive coach to show a continued commitment to their development. 

How To Be A Great Mentor: 5 Traits to Cultivate Now

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“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”

~ Robert Frost ~

Randy is more than a little anxious. He’s been moving ahead rapidly on the fast track with his company and he knows that his C-level managers see him as an emerging leader. Now, however, his boss has just presented him with a new challenge: mentor two employees who have just joined the firm. Randy has had a few good mentors in the past, but there’s a big difference between having one and being one. And he hasn’t been one since he tutored his girlfriend in math when they were high school seniors. He needs to be ready in two weeks. What to do first?

Like all creative leaders, Randy begins to brainstorm and research. Within a few hours, he has the outline of a game plan and knows exactly what he needs to do to become a great mentor:

  • Develop a servant mentality
  • Ask the right questions
  • Cultivate their strengths
  • Model executive presence
  • Put them in the spotlight

1. Develop a servant mentality. The mentee is the star of your little show, so always keep him or her in the limelight. They may not be comfortable there, at least in the beginning. Every actor has butterflies on opening night, after all. Your job is to cheerlead, comfort, and encourage. And stay in the background.

2. Ask the right questions. Robert Ridel, in his book Critical Thinking for Everyday Life, says that “to question is to understand.” Probing, open-ended questions often lead other people to discover answers and ideas that they didn’t know they had. Always approach questioning from the positive point of view:

  • Why do you think that worked so well?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • If you were the client, what questions would you ask?

3. Cultivate their strengths. Being in a new position, or with a new company, is challenging in itself. Fear of failure may lie pretty close to the surface. Now is the time to remind your mentee of what she or he has already accomplished. They landed this job, didn’t they? And that was based on a track record of prior successes. Get them to talk about those successes and how to translate them into the current environment. This doesn’t mean you should ignore the downside. As George Lucas said, when discussing Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, “Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” You can see both sides but always accentuate the positive.

4. Model executive presence. You already have the right skills and attitude. That’s why you were chosen to become a mentor. You are not only talented, you create an impact when you enter the room. You know how to influence others, and you consistently provide added value to every project you manage. Always demonstrate these traits when working with your mentees. Come from a place of teaching, not from ego. 

Good approach: “We just made a really successful presentation. Why do you think it worked?”

Not so good: “Wow! That was fantastic. I just love it when I knock it out of the park.”

5. Put them in the spotlight. When your mentee scores a win, give him the credit. Let him know when he hits a home run. Don’t hesitate to brag to your peers and C-level executives about what a great job he’s doing. Then use that win as a foundation for continuing to grow.

Six months after Randy took on his first two mentees, he was asked to develop a mentoring model to be implemented company-wide. Today, mentoring is a way of life, based on the initial plan he put together.

Are you about to become a mentor? Or are you already a mentor and need some new ideas to motivate your mentees? Email Joel today for his suggestions.

Talkback: Have you successfully mentored employees or others in your industry? What tips would you like to share with our readers?

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