Why Do Many Mentoring Relationships Lose Their Way?

Our guest bloggers today are Lois Zachary and Lory Fischler, authors of Starting Strong.

Why is it that so many mentoring relationships seem to lose their way?

We believe that we have some answers!

  • The concept of mentoring is not uniformly understood. Mentoring partners hold different assumptions about what mentoring actually means.
  • Mentees and mentors are inadequately prepared for mentoring roles and responsibilities.
  • The mentor’s role is frequently seen as doling out advice, offering guidance and dispensing wisdom.
  • Mentoring partners assume they know each other and fail to take the adequate time to build trust.
  • Relationships derail when mentoring goals remain fuzzy, and that affects the desired outcome.
  • Mentors and mentees fail to build in structures to promote mutual accountability for the relationship.
  • Only one partner is doing the heavy lifting.

Be assured there is no magic or mystique to mentoring. Mentoring requires work— work that unfolds in continuous conversation. And, not just any conversation works. While many mentor-mentee exchanges are called conversation, these so called conversations end up being a series of transactions or interactions. Mentors and mentees experience better results when they are fully prepared to engage in effective conversations.

Our research and experience demonstrates that conversations that take place during the first 90 days of a mentoring relationship are good barometers of success or failure. These conversations set the tone, direction, energy and momentum for unleashing powerful learning experiences.

We wrote Starting Strong for two reasons. First, we wanted to help people understand what really good mentoring conversation looks like in practice. Second, we wanted to address the most very basic and common questions: What does it actually look like in practice?  How do the individuals who are engaged in mentoring actually experience the relationship? What do they think about?  What do they talk about? What conversations should they engage in to build their relationship and initiate the learning process?

Our purpose was to invite readers to become armchair observers and learn some valuable lessons about mentoring from watching good mentoring practice in action over the critical first 90 days.

The mentor in Starting Strong is an experienced executive and savvy mentor. Her millennial mentee is ambitious and eager for a quick promotion. As their mentoring relationship ramps up, readers listen in as the mentoring partners engage in six essential conversations. Readers also become privy to each of their thoughts as the relationship develops over time.

The conversations help the mentee and mentor build trust, establish agreements, formulate goals, and tackle challenges that get in the way. In the process, both partners discover the importance of a well-launched mentoring relationship, the critical role of preparation, how to build a trusting, open and honest relationship, how to maximize their mentoring time, how mentors help mentees take charge of their own learning, and how to address stumbling blocks without jeopardizing the relationship. These conversations lay the foundation for a thriving, growing and satisfying learning journey.

To learn more about setting up a strong mentoring relationship, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: The First 90 Days of a Mentoring Relationship.

How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work

powerofthanks

Building a fully engaged, energized workforce is the key to business success. The Power of Thanks reveals how leading companies empower employees through social recognition, in which the practice of mutual appreciation and trust directs and rewards higher performance.

Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, executives at the world-renowned employee-recognition firm Globoforce, explain why social recognition is so powerful and how you can apply it in your company. They show how a carefully planned and consistently executed Culture of Recognition business strategy inspires greater employee engagement and loyalty; stronger, more unified teams and departments; a creative, innovative company culture; improved customer satisfaction; and increased profitability and organizational health. Mosley and Irvine provide practical advice and proven examples for devising a powerful, growth-generating strategy that modernizes employee recognition for today’s social, global, multi-generational and 24×7-wired workforce.

When employees participate in a culture that makes everyone a stakeholder in the organization’s success, positive energy spreads like wildfire, and business results follow. Something so simple and powerful might work like magic, but it’s really just common sense. It’s smart management. It’s long-term thinking. It’s The Power of Thanks.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• Why culture is central to business success today.

• The difference between social recognition and other forms of appreciation.

• How social recognition creates happier employees and drives ROI and business results.

 

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

Discover and Develop Greatness

thehiddenleader2

Think you can spot the leaders in your company? Don’t assume that you can identify them by their positions. What about those employees who consistently step up: the field agent who solves a previously intractable problem; the service rep who thinks outside the box and creates unshakeable customer loyalty.

These are more than “good employees.” These are “hidden leaders,” and they are critical to an organization’s long-term success. Managers today need to make the most of all their resources, and The Hidden Leader , by Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain, shows them how to recognize and cultivate these talented but under-utilized employees, who demonstrate integrity, lead through authentic relationships, focus on results, work from clear customer purpose and fulfill the value promise of the company.

Supported by real-world examples of hidden leaders in action, The Hidden Leader helps managers discover these secret saviors and enable them to deliver even greater value to customers.

In This Summary You Will Learn:

  • To recognize and nurture hidden leaders in your organization.
  • The four facets of hidden leadership.
  • Why integrity is non-negotiable in hidden leadership.
  • The difference between customer service and customer purpose.
  • How to engage hidden leaders at the individual and organizational levels.

 

 

Eight Powerful Strategies to Fix Your Meetings

Meetings are at the heart of effective organizations. Each meeting is an opportunity to clarify issues, set direction, sharpen focus, create alignment, and move ambitions forward. We have to change the way we think about meetings, the way we design and lead them, and, most importantly, how we manage what happens between meetings.

Paul Axtell offers eight powerful strategies for fixing our meeting problems, and within each strategy, he provides concrete advice you can put into action immediately such as limiting participants, being vigilant about what gets on the agenda, designing the conversation for each agenda item, and managing the experience for everyone in the room so people leave feeling heard and appreciated.

Here are the eight strategies:

  1. Choose the perspective: This Matters.
  2. Master effective conversations.
  3. Create supportive relationships.
  4. Decide what matters and who cares.
  5. Design each conversation.
  6. Lead meetings for three outcomes.
  7. Participate in meetings to add impact.
  8. Build remarkable groups.

If you’re struggling with making your meetings productive and powerful, then join us on April 28th for our Soundview Live webinar with Paul Axtell: Eight Powerful Strategies to Fix Your Meetings. Bring your team together for the webinar and post your questions for Paul during the session.

Book Review: The Best Place to Work

TheBestPlaceToWork

by Ron Friedman

The world described in The Best Place to Work, by psychologist and consultant Ron Friedman, is the polar opposite of the world of Frederick Taylor, in which efficiency and productivity was based on economizing the movement of the worker; in today’s world, efficiency and productivity depend on maximizing the thinking of the worker. In the time of Taylor, employees and workers were nothing more than living machines; today, the key to a successful business is meeting the human needs of your people.

And this is why psychology has become a key component to creating the most efficient and productive workplace, Friedman writes. Building on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, covering areas such as motivation, creativity, innovation and management, Friedman lays out the sometimes surprising insights and solutions for motivating employees to achieve their best, enhancing creativity and collaboration, and attracting and retaining the best performers.

Friedman’s “menu of proven ingredients” is extensive and detailed — and although some discussions might be more or less relevant based on the specific organization, it is probable that every organization will find at least some takeaways from each chapter. Beyond the specific workplace and work-experience solutions contained in its chapters, The Best Place to Work provides three overarching lessons:

Psychological needs are at the heart of employee engagement. Employees need to experience autonomy, a sense of competence and “relatedness” — a connection with other employees — on a daily basis.

Organizations are more successful when they address the limits of the mind and body. Humans are not machines. There are a number of limitations, for example, the number of hours we can work at our highest productive level or the decline of problem-solving skills when we’re under stress. The best organizations recognize these limitations and, through innovative measures, give employees an opportunity to overcome them.

Integrating work and family life improves the quality of both. The idea that work and personal time are separate is a myth, according to Friedman. Instead of artificially separating the two, the best organizations find ways to “blend the two worlds.” “The future of great workplaces,” writes Friedman, “lies in helping employees fuse their personal and professional lives in ways that position them to deliver their best work.” The Best Place to Work should become one of the definitive books on creating the motivating and empowering workplace and work experience that are at the heart of any business success. Building on solid and extensive research, Friedman’s overarching themes and specific solutions and insights establish the context for all future efforts to motivate and engage employees and develop inspiring and persuasive leadership skills.

Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS

Welcome to the Real World

“The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal,” writes Silicon Valley veteran Ben Horowitz, co-founder, with Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, of the venture capitalist firm Horowitz Andreessen. “The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those ‘great people’ develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things.” In other words, most business and management books might offer some basic advice, but according to Horowitz, they don’t really help the “hard things” about a situation. “The hard thing isn’t dreaming big,” he writes, ending his litany of examples. “The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”

No Recipe

Horowitz, who was also co-founder of the software firm Opsware, knows a thing or two about nightmares. The stories of his Silicon Valley adventures can best be described as harrowing. There was the time, for example, that Opsware was about to lose its largest customer, EDS, which accounted for an astounding 90 percent of its revenue. The loss would have meant sure bankruptcy. The Opsware team transformed the EDS account decision-maker, a bitter man who thought life was against him, from a sworn enemy into an ally by responding to his personal needs.

The EDS rescue and many other cliffhanger experiences make Horowitz eminently qualified to write a book about how to take on the hard things. He is quick to point out, however, that The Hard Thing About Hard Things doesn’t offer a recipe for dealing with challenges: “There’s no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations,” he writes. However, “there are many bits of advice and experience that can help with the hard things.” Horowitz intersperses detailed stories from his experience with straightforward advice on such topics as “when things fall apart,” “take care of the people, the products and the profits — in that order” and “how to lead even when you don’t know where you are going.”

One of the first bits of advice in the “when things fall apart” section that Horowitz offers is to forget positivity. Like many CEOs, Horowitz thought it was up to him to shoulder all the bad news alone. Then he asked his blue-collar brother-in-law about a senior executive in the brother-in-law’s company. “Yeah, I know Fred,” his brother-in-law said. “He comes by about once a quarter to blow a little sunshine up my a**.” “At that moment,” Horowitz writes, “I knew that I’d been screwing up my company by being too positive.”

Other lessons in the “when things fall apart” section include the right way to lay people off, how to demote a friend, and how to fire an executive. Firing an executive, he writes, begins with the recognition that, with the exception of ethical transgressions, you are firing the executive because you have made a bad choice in the first place. “The reason you have to fire your head of marketing is not because he sucks,” Horowitz explains. “It’s because you suck.” He then lists a series of mistakes made in the hiring process and suggests paying attention to them for the next executive hire.

Many business books have quotes at the beginning of chapters, and this book is no exception. But don’t expect to find Sun Tzu or Winston Churchill; Horowitz draws his inspiration from hip-hop artists who “aspire to be both great and successful and see themselves as entrepreneurs.” And indeed, a quote from Kanye West captures the no-nonsense, grounded wisdom of this insightful read: “This is the real world, homie, school finished…”

Plan for the Future with Three New Summaries

As part of your leadership development, you should routinely take a part of each day to focus on the future. To help you in your efforts, Soundview has three new summaries that help you plan for the future of your business and strengthen your resolve to achieve your goals.

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

Absolute Value by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen. Absolute Value answers the question of what influences customers in this new age and describes how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in order to adopt a new way of thinking about marketing in this new environment.

 

 

 

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

Leadership 2030 by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell. Leadership 2030 presents six converging megatrends that will reshape businesses by the year 2030 including the forces of globalization 2.0, environmental crisis, individualization and value pluralism, the digital era, demographic change, and technological convergence. Authors Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell use research and analyses to explain the transformative effects of the megatrends on leaders and their organizations and what leaders will have to know.

 

by Al Siebert

by Al Siebert

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert. The Resiliency Advantage explains how and why some people are more resilient than others and how resiliency can be learned and strengthened. Dr. Siebert details a five-level program for becoming more resilient that is a valuable resource for learning how to meet the challenges of work and life head on.

What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

LEAD POSITIVE

See, Say, Do the Positive

For veteran consultant Kathryn Cramer, author of Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do, the best way to inspire followers is to focus on the positive. Cramer developed a methodology called Asset-Based Thinking (ABT) based on this message of positive thinking, and describes in her book how leaders:

  • See the positive in the past, present and future;
  • Say the positive with communications with substance, sizzle and soul;
  • Do the positive by responding with intention (not reacting), leveraging their qualities, and driving positive change over the long term.

These questions will give the leader and his or her team a clear memory of how they leveraged positive “situational forces” and overcame negative ones to achieve success. Cramer’s force field analysis is both informational and inspirational.

One of the recurring approaches in Cramer’s ABT methodology is the Self-Others-Situation framework, in which leaders take into account themselves, others and the situation in question. For example, to help leaders “see” the positive in the present, Cramer writes that they need to consider what makes them feel strong and capable (self), how they develop meaningful connections with other people (others), and what gives them a sense of progress or achievement (situation).

Techniques and Strategies

The see-say-do framework is at the heart of Cramer’s Asset-Based Thinking methodology, which offers a comprehensive framework for leaders to respond to a wide variety of challenges and situations. In Lead Positive, Cramer describes a range of ABT techniques and guidelines for applying the framework. The “force field analysis,” for example, is a technique used to learn from a past situation that successfully worked, and is built around four questions or sets of questions:

  • “What forces were working for us?” With this question, you should identify five positive, accelerating forces, Cramer writes.
  • “What forces were working against us?” This question should lead to one or two negative forces.
  • What did we do to leverage the accelerating forces and eliminate or sidestep the negative forces?”
  • “What behavior do we want to repeat and knowledge do we want to carry forward? Which situational assets do we want to recreate, and which situational pitfalls must we avoid?”

The Message of St. Andrews

Cramer reinforces the lessons of ABT with real-world examples. One such real-world example involved St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System, an organization that provides a range of services for seniors, including affordable retirement housing and in-home health care. St. Andrew’s was looking to become more financially secure and a regional leader in its field. The organization looked to Cramer to help them create a vision for the future.

The first step was to develop a vision message of substance, which used an ABT structure that included what needed to be accomplished, what the executives needed to make the employees and staff understand, the call to action for employees and staff, and the benefits for all. To add sizzle to the vision message, Cramer helped Chief Operating Officer Diane Meatheany to use a narrative structure called the Hero’s Journey, based on the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell. The Hero’s Journey narrative follows a series of steps: the call, the resistance, the threshold crossing, the journey, the supreme ordeal and the return home. Meatheany crafted a story about the future of St Andrew’s and her role in it structured on the Hero’s Journey. The soul of the communication from Meatheany and the rest of the team — the all-important meaning of what is happening — was incorporated into the message through a series of answers to key “why” questions: why this is important to the bigger picture, our values and beliefs, and our organization; why it is important to me and my commitment; and why we need you involved.

The author of nine books and the founder of a consultancy that works with companies such as DuPont, Starbucks and Microsoft, Cramer knows that the deceptively simple message of positivity can belie the complexity of leading a diverse group of people in a constantly changing environment. Lead Positive transforms the principles of ABT into a practical workbook for leaders.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

Book Review: The Learned Disciplines of Management

by Jim Burkett

by Jim Burkett

The ability to turn around a struggling business is a skill honed in the fires of a business inferno. Specialists in this process hope to be successful a handful of times throughout their careers. Jim Burkett, author and president of Corporate Turnaround Consulting, has turned around the staggering figure of 28 underperforming companies during a 35-year career. It requires a devotion to a set of principles Burkett describes to readers in The Learned Disciplines of Management: How to Make the Right Things Happen. This book is now available a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

While every manager develops a toolkit for problem solving during the course of his or her career, Burkett points out that many of these skills might simply be what you’ve received from a predecessor or boss. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Burkett replaces the “inherited” tools with seven learned tools: planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving.

Each section of the book provides executives with an explanation of the discipline and examples to reinforce the importance of its practice. One of the more intriguing chapters concerns the discipline of measuring performance. While experienced executives probably feel as if they’ve read everything imaginable about the subject, Burkett gets to the heart of the issue: why measuring performance is so often not practiced. His findings force executives to confront the truth that performance measurement, while not a dehumanizing practice, does remove an unspoken layer of safety for underperforming teams.

These kinds of truths are essential if a manager intends to push a turnaround to its successful completion. While The Learned Disciplines of Management is a must-read for anyone in a struggling organization, it would benefit experienced executives at successful firms, as well.