Archive for April, 2014

Mentoring Reflections from the C-Suite

Written by Miki Jo Resto on . Posted in VPI Blog

Miki Jo Park-Resto“March Mentoring Madness” Blog Series Continues Another Month!

As a Mentor

I experience the act of Mentoring as deeply satisfying, and I experience the relationship with a Mentee as being truly an honor. To come to a point-in-life where another person recognizes that my experience has some value, and asks me to assist them by sharing stories and guidance, has given my journey meaning that I never expected to find. To have another feel safe to be vulnerable with me, to be able to say: “this is what I don’t know” and trust that I’ll respond with compassion is a space that is rare. I love this rare space and only hope to help another reach the results they seek with more ease, and maybe a little more grace, than I was able.

As a Mentee

I am so very grateful that there are generous people who have been my Mentors over many years. Some have been mentors without knowing, and others I asked directly. I not only need their advice and encouragement, I need their course correction. One of the truly wonderful and unexpected gifts has been when those mentors become friends, and as the mentor/friendship deepens those relationships turn into treasure. I experience so much joy when I get to share my wins and results with them. As a Mentee, I know that without seeking mentorship intentionally I would have found it much more difficult to deal with the challenges of business and life.

8 Insights Learned from Mentoring Mistakes

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in VPI Blog

Jack BaxterGuest Post by: Jack Baxter

“March Mentoring Madness” Blog Series Continues Another Month!

Mentoring Mistakes

My experience in mentoring fellow associates (team members) has been one of great success or miserable failure. There did not seem to be anything in-between.

I came to the conclusion a number of years ago that mentoring, in some ways, worked along generation lines. That is to say mentors, mentees of the same generation but some years apart in age and experience worked well. Mentors, mentees that are only one generation apart (Traditionalist / Baby Boomer) would also work out well. Now this assumes that each party has an interest in each other’s success and the goals are clearly outlined.

On more than one occasion I was assigned to mentor what management described as an “up and coming star”, only to learn that the star had gone dark. Said another way, this person had become “disengaged” and it was my job, according to management, to re-engage this individual. That doesn’t work and it becomes an instant failure.

So I have learned from some of my mentoring mistakes over the years. Here are a few insights…

  • Conduct a very through initial interview. The old adage, ask “Why” five times works well here.
  • Identify the key performance factors along with an absolute timeline for completion.
  • Adhere to a regular schedule of Coaching Discussions, no less than once a week in the initial 6 months period.
  • Be aware of the signs of motivation issues.
  • Communicate observations with positive reinforcement.
  • Identify Opportunities.
  • Ask questions, then shut up and listen.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!

“Do you want to be right or keep your job?”

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in VPI Blog

image001Guest Post by: Scott Suckow

Part of our “March Mentoring Madness” Series 

Can you always be right?

The best advice came in the form of a question from a professional coach. I was the CEO of a non-profit that had a great deal of success and growth. We were going through a transition with a new board chair and it was not going well. As the CEO, I was the chief staff person. As the board chair, she was the chief volunteer. I saw our different, yet complementary, roles very clearly. Our governance model had been working successfully up to this point.

As a former CEO of a large hospital, she saw her role as more active in day-to-day operations, regardless of the current governance model. (Executive Directors/CEO’s reading this probably just had a few light bulbs go on.) I tried “gentle redirection”, “training” and then moved to “direct and honest”. None worked. We both wanted organizational success. We disagreed about our roles in getting us there. Our conflict had reached a point that was threatening that goal.

We both agreed that being on the same page was instrumental for the organization to fulfill its mission. Honestly, I assumed that she would get on my page, and she assumed I would get on hers.

With the support of the leadership of the board, I enrolled the support of a professional coach to help mentor me through the transition. The board chair declined the opportunity.  At the beginning of my first session with the coach, she shared with me that in order to provide me with coaching that best supported my goals, she had to ask one question.  “Great,” I thought, “I’ll tell her the situation and she’ll understand it as clearly as I, then we’d be off and running and I could get back to my work running the organization.” The question she asked was “Do you want to be right or keep your job?”

Of course, I thought I was right and that I would keep my job. It was my board chair that was wrong. I just wanted help to make her understand how right I was. My coach explained that there may be a point where I would not be able to be right and keep my job. That simple question really pulled out the complexities of the ego, and whether as CEO I would be able to put mine aside for the greater good. It was clear that the chair was deeply rooted in her approach. If change was going to happen it would be me adapting. Although this felt incredibly unfair, it was the reality of the situation.

My coach explained the belief that each of us give 50% and meet in the middle put half the responsibility on the other person. That the half that we have no control over. Rather, if I was committed to success, why not do everything I could to ensure it, even giving 100%. This seems like such a simple observation, but I was rooted in my belief of being right, my ego did not allow me to see how much power I actually had. What resulted was a power struggle that led to my frustration and disappointment with the board leadership unable to correct the behavior of the board chair.

Eventually I left the organization and a year later the board chair rotated off the board as well. Neither of us won. The organization lost a great CEO and committed board chair.  Looking back, this question was the best advice I had ever received, although at the time I was not yet ready to hear it. To this day, when I find my ego keeping me from exploring new ways of doing things, I nudge myself along by asking this very question.