Blog

My Top 10 Guiding Principles of Mentoring

I have enjoyed mentoring in many companies and types of settings. Whether interns at the workplace, up and coming members at my place of worship or with people 3rd party charitable ministries there have been many great learning opportunities that I have been blessed to learn and grow from as a person. Mentoring is the lifeblood of continuing to provide the most powerful means of training and developing relationships. If you have the time in your company or organization to provide this and make a difference than please do!

My Top 10 Guiding Principles of Mentoring

1) Mentoring is equally just as important to the mentor as it is to the mentee – realize that you are not only providing a chance of growth to the individual but to yourself also. We can always learn and grow from the new personalities and perspectives that we have a chance to be a part of.

2) Mentoring is not telling people what to do; it’s how to guide people to learn how to do it. If people are never equipped with the knowledge and confidence to execute in the problem in front of them then they may be less apt to take those bigger steps in their future. Build their confidence!

3) Mentoring takes time (and it’s time well spent). If you’re not willing to invest an ongoing slot of time to people you are mentoring then both parties suffer in the process. And I can say from experience that you will know the right amount of time to invest in someone when they’re less focused on asking questions and instead feeling confident in execution.

4) Mentoring is to give others the edge you did not have when you started. If we do not raise the bar in where we start our prospective candidates then we in turn are not shifting our talent to be more like the quality candidates we want to hire.

5) Mentoring tests your ability to lead and manage others. Chances are if working with new people and helping them learn new things presents a challenge to tough then you may want to keep focused as an individual contributor and continue enriching your ability to lead and influence.

6) People receiving mentoring should be receiving from you a combination of selflessness, teaching, communication and learning. Any piece of this that is left off will result in teaching without applicability, only doing your things you selfishly do not wish to do, communicating only when obligated to and learning without understanding the purpose.

7) Effective mentoring is not driven by being their “boss”; it is driven by your actions in being their guide. Often times I have seen internships or new candidates turn into cheap labor having only a few purposes of things we do not want to do. These experiences that candidates have are not well received and do hinder the overall company or organization reputation.

8) Mentoring will coach your candidate through their fears and insecurities. Candidates should walk away from your mentoring feeling more confident in prior areas of weakness.

9) Mentoring is an open door, an open ear and an open mind. If you close any of these you will not promote the development of conversation and ideas. Sometimes a new fresh perspective from someone outside of the norm can be the jump-start you need to be excited about mentoring.

10) Mentoring promotes the development of mentors. Over many occasions I have now seen before my eyes candidates I have worked with now mentoring others and developing new employees and candidates.

PDF: Click Here To Download

Blog

Remember The Laggard! My Story of Overcoming Fears and Choosing To Learn

Have you ever heard of or heard yourself or others be referred to as a Laggard?

Google defines a laggard as:

noun – “a person who makes slow progress and falls behind others.”

adjective – “slower than desired or expected.”
Do you identify with that? Have you ever referred to anyone like that? First of all, I think that laggard is pretty rough of a term…which is why you also see the reference to the “mainstreamers” as a more friendly word for it.
I believe when we tend to think of a laggard we think of the classic curve in reference of the Rogers version relative to adoption:
Regardless of what we call it I have some things to share today in reference to my real-life “laggard” realization in my career and the decision I made in my life to stop being stuck where I was and choosing to further in my career.

About 10 years ago I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in IT, focusing in the Information Sciences and Programming backgrounds. During that final year a very wise professor at the time made a statement towards the end of my tenure in school that really shook me then.

“Whatever you have learned up to this point…three years from now will be completely obsolete.”

“Whatever you have learned up to this point…three years from now will be completely obsolete.”

After some confused faces and reactions in the room, the professor continued:

“However, if you have truly paid attention to the concepts that help you to understand the basics then regardless of the language of the day or technology you build your practices will guide you through.”

“However, if you have truly paid attention to the concepts that help you to understand the basics then regardless of the language of the day or technology you build your practices will guide you through.”

At the time, I thought to myself in a moment of confidence, “Wow, that seems a bit forward, I’ll be fine!” Wrong! I have learned through 10 years of experience now that there were no truer words ever spoken to me (about my career) at the time that I heard them.

In today’s ever-moving technical climate of mobile evolution, social media startups and new technologies making it easier than ever to go to the once mysterious cloud I have found that things are moving much faster than my professor may have even understood.

Being in a transition period in my career in the past 2 years I have found that I am in a place that I believe a lot of other folks have been in before or may be in the near future. There was a point where I felt like everything I was confident in understanding had become obsolete and that everything that was in front of me for a new future required me to make a choice to want to evolve my learning. On top of that there was the constant reminder of new people coming in and demonstrating in their learning (sometimes in ways that left me feeling very deflated) what I did not understand as great. Not to mention the ever looming call to responsibility to drive positive results with the best of my ability.

“There was a point where I felt like everything I was confident in understanding had become obsolete and that everything that was in front of me for a new future required me to make a choice to want to evolve my learning.”

What do I do? Well, I knew at the time of my self-evaluation that most everything I ever was taught in language, system or structures ten years ago was definitely in the latter part of the mainstream part of the adoption curve. It was only a matter of time where if I did nothing else I would have to begin taking a long look at the market to see where else I could thrive with my existing skill set. Maybe there is something close by? Then, as that began to feel scary I began to think about what my options could be to grow. After looking at courses I began to feel discouraged as a lot of the topics out there cost time, money and your presence away from your day to day work (that ensures to make you feel behind).

After many months of soul searching, being made to feel ignorant in work settings, left out by others and left on the assumption that I wouldn’t know I finally made a decision. I decided then that I would chose to grow and refused to be stuck anymore.

I would not be bullied by fears of learning or worried of leaving a few tasks behind to make time to grow. Even if I would not be provided moments during the day I chose to grow where I could elsewhere. It was a mindset change, a choice I made, and do not regret it. I would no longer blame my surroundings, commitments or challenges to keep me from making this something I do. I may fail. I may not understand it all. However, I would rather fail fast and grow than to give up! I then recalled being willing to do this before I started my career in college and this encouraged my willingness to want to learn more now.

Today, I am fighting for my relevance in my career and will encourage all that I can to remember to do the same.

“I may fail. I may not understand it all. However, I would rather fail fast and grow than to give up!”

These days I am learning every day. Free resources such as videos and websites out there are the best place to start. Joining social networking groups around topics I am unfamiliar in is another great step. I am voicing my want for more and am investing by making the time for it today. And in just a couple years of time I know for sure I am turning back the meter and heading towards new things! Conferences are great but make time for the learning opportunities and not just the free t-shirts. Training and courses, whether virtual or in-person and a must in today’s evolving tech climate and a must. Whatever you choose to do use these learning moments to fight to stay relevant with your investment into yourself!

So today as I close this open story of my personal career to those still hungry to work and others curious of the meaning of my intent I leave you with these words: Remember the laggard! 

Companies, remember that one of the most meaningful means of retention is the means to which you invest in people, especially their ability to evolve their skills and mindset. Laggards are not just people who know old things; laggards are loyal, invested people who simply need the opportunity to grow. Empower people with the freedom to be away in the short-term (for a little while) normal efforts to invest in themselves and you will see growth and trust in the working relationship for building longevity and driving positive results. When we choose short-term results and fail to invest here we begin to see teams that become less apt to adopt new things and challenge themselves, thus leaving key areas of business stuck in the mercy of mainstream and slowly letting our fears slow our progress. Fail fast, take chances on people, and never lose the grip of the importance of investing in continual learning!

“Companies, remember that one of the most meaningful means of retention is the means to which you invest in people, especially their ability to evolve their skills and mindset.”

Individuals out there, remember to choose to grow no matter your obstacles and know that you are able to do it. Remember to prioritize it as much as you want it. And just like every good degree, certification or learning experience any knowledge you gain to help you evolve and move forward in your career is worth the investment. Every time. Make sure you always include learning in your career plans and give voice to making sure others that help you succeed know that it is important to you. Do not get stuck in the mainstream and lose your confidence to try new things! And lastly, remember that if you are in a good place in your career and are in the midst of new learning…take others with you. Mentor and help others to not be afraid of embracing growth!

“Individuals out there, remember to choose to grow no matter your obstacles and know that you are able to do it. Remember to prioritize it as much as you want it. And just like every good degree, certification or learning experience any knowledge you gain to help you evolve and move forward in your career is worth the investment. Every time.”

Blog, Web

Action board: What words and actions are driving you?

I find each day has its challenges to give a chance to reveal a new possible action that can be taken to improve the moment.

As something I am learning each day I find that sometimes it’s good to visualize key actions and values to remember how we focus ourselves and work to apply them every day. You may not apply them all at once but as you come back to it and think through your experiences you can reflect and continue to figure out where you can grow and build your partnerships.

Challenge yourself, chances are you may find you have a lot more of these than you think. Thanks for reading.

Any other good ones for the board?

Blog, Web

Four Lessons about Facing Adversity as a New Employee

When I first set out to write this I was not sure where it was going to end up. I just knew that the experiences that I have had through the years just could not be brushed off without someone gaining a valuable lesson from someone else’s story. That’s what I hope this does and I believe that if you will apply these things to your own life you will grow as a person and in your career to move forward.

So the backstory: 6 months into a new job. I now have just enough time under my belt not to be the “new guy” and enough wins and deployments to have an opinion that matters amongst the team…well, most of the team. There were a couple holdouts that simply could not believe a new guy out of school could pick up some things so quickly and be acclimated to the norm. As I sat in a traditional project staff meeting I volunteered to participate in an upcoming project of great complexity to do some development that had not been done before at that time. No sooner than I had signed myself up one of my colleagues emphatically challenged me by saying, “Just because you think you can do one or two really easy things doesn’t make you a senior analyst nor qualifies you to work on high priority projects”. I still can remember the hush in the room that day. I quickly reacted and followed that with, “Well, I understand your opinion but would like the chance to participate and to prove my abilities and will hope to show you that I can be a contributor to the project”.

So what did I learn from this experience?

Four Lessons about Facing Adversity as a new Employee:

1) In any new job or responsibility you will be challeneged on your capability. This is expected and should be welcomed as an opportunity for you to show how you can contribute with your strengths and abilities.

2) When you are challenged by others about your abilities you need to respond with your willingness to step up to the challenge. Being challenged does not mean you should run away from adversity. Strive forward to be the first in line to say, “Yes, I want to be a part of change”

3) Mistakes are often made when people get too deep into the weeds when arguing in the details of things to prove their knowledge; remember that everyone in the room has to grow in their understanding and will fail and make mistakes as well. Be patient and remember it is about the working relationship and the details.

4) Showing your resolve will allow others to see a resounding confidence and ability to accept diversity and capability to move forward. The greater you continue to build your confidence the greater you will build relationships and trust with your business and colleagues. 

So the moral of this story? In the end I not only took the additional responsibility on this project but eventually became the lead over it. As a result of its success I received a raise, a promotion and other opportunities with other projects that I would have been passed over on previously (had I backed down from the previous adversity I received). Most notably I am happy to say that out of that experience it help me to grow to respect and work well with the colleague who challenged me.

Remember to continue to believe in your confidence, trust your abilities, build the relationships with others and you will begin to see results start working greater for your good.

More to come, hope this was helpful.