7 Tips for Building Mentoring to Develop Employees and Raise Engagement

7 Tips for Building Mentoring to Develop Employees and Raise Engagement

When I decided I wanted to write a book, I was utterly terrified and baffled. Where do I start?

Thankfully, I’d learned years ago that I do not have to go it alone with new challenges: I called on a trusted mentor. Elaine Biech has written or edited more than 50 books. She knows about this thing! I’m grateful for the amazing insights Elaine shared with me to guide my book publishing process. I couldn't have done it as quickly or as well without her mentoring support.

Have you had a mentor or mentored someone? I actually devoted a whole chapter in Employee Development on a Shoestring to the idea that mentoring can be a wonderful tool to develop employees. It is also an amazing employee engagement booster. In this post, I’ll share some of the highlights with you about what mentoring is and why it’s helpful, who is the ideal candidate for this kind of relationship, and seven tips for creating a strong mentoring program and/or building a great mentoring relationships which will increase both learning and engagement in your organization, department, team, or even just yourself.

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The 3 Secrets of Motivating and Inspiring Others

The 3 Secrets of Motivating and Inspiring Others

Motivating others - that's a tough one, right? In this post, I share the three secrets to motivating and inspiring others. Hint: none of these secrets involve spending more money! Here are some of the key findings from scientific research about what is highly motivating to most of today's knowledge workers and how to apply these insights to your daily leadership efforts.

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Halelly's ASTD 2014 Conference Presentation Covered by Bloomberg Human Resource Report

Halelly's ASTD 2014 Conference Presentation Covered by Bloomberg Human Resource Report

Halelly's ASTD 2014 International Conference and Expo Presentation was covered by Bloomberg BNA in their publication, Human Resource Report. The article, "Speaker Discusses Sustainable Engagement, Mentoring, Retaining Institutional Knowledge", describes some of the key points Halelly made in her well-attended concurrent session entitled, "Engaging Employees Across the Generations by Using Social and Informal Learning" on May 6, 2014, in Washington, DC. Read the article here.

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Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay

Employee Development Done Right: ASTD Interviews Halelly Azulay
Listen to a short and upbeat interview by ASTD's Ann Parker in which Halelly Azulay discusses why employee development is as important as ever even in the current workplace climate, how to ensure employee development strategies are beneficial to both the employee and the organization, and how to implement good employee development strategies in your organization.
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The "STS Formula" for giving positive feedback and appreciation

Thankful!.jpg

It was very nice to see TalentGrow's annual gift featured in this guest post on WordOfMouth.org by our friend and colleague Jeremy Epstein, VP of Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr. It just shows that when you give thoughtful, meaningful, authentic gifts, it really resonates with the people who receive them.

The same is true with positive recognition and appreciation; in my opinion, it is the most influential tool in any leader's toolkit. When you say "thank you" or "job well-done" to a staff member, peer, supervisor, client, associate or friend, it has a lasting positive effect, often with a multiplier effect rippling off of it.

Let's face it: NO ONE has ever felt TOO appreciated. Period.

Halelly's "STS Formula" for positive feedback and appreciation

Here's the simple formula that is guaranteed to work to make people feel truly appreciated:

  1. Be Specific. Describe in as much detail as possible WHAT you appreciated and WHY.While "Thank you" and "Good job" are way better than nothing, they don't really describe the behavior you appreciated and want to recognize. Here's a little secret: what gets appreciated, gets repeated. Don't you want to let the person know what behavior to repeat?
  2. Be Timely. Articulate your appreciation (whether orally or in writing) as closely to the occurrence of the appreciated behavior as possible. Otherwise, not only will the person possibly forget what they did, but they may not feel your appreciation is as authentic or heart-felt as it should be. I mean, "thank you so much for helping me that time two months ago" just doesn't have as much of a positive impact as "thanks for your help yesterday" does.
  3. Be sincere. People can read (and smell) 'fake' from a mile away. Humans are astute observers of nuanced body language signals that convey incongruence. And, when faced with a mismatch between the words and the way they were conveyed, we almost always trust the visual and vocal cues as the 'true message'. If you're giving appreciation as a 'management technique' or because you 'have to', not because you're truly appreciative, the receiver will pick this up and your positive feedback will have the OPPOSITE effect - it will create distrust and disgruntlement. The bottom line: if you can't find a way to sincerely feel thankful, it's best you don't give thanks. 

Take the "STS Challenge"

In the next week, look for opportunities to 'catch' people doing things right, and for things you can appreciate about them, and provide Specific, Timely, and Sincere appreciation. It can be as simple as a spoken appreciation face-to-face or by phone, a thank you card, or a symbolic gift. Then, come back and report about your experience and reactions in the comments below. I can't wait to hear about it!

Image: my modification of a photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Claudio.Ar


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Leading for Compliance vs. Commitment [vlog]

Is your leadership style all about ensuring compliance or engendering commitment? In this vlog (video-blog) episode, I discuss the difference in the business results and employee engagement that can result from each leadership approach. What do you think? Use the comments below to jump into the conversation - I look forward to hearing from you!

TRANSCRIPT

Halelly: Welcome to this episode of the TalentGrow vlog, where I’m going to discuss two concepts that come up a whole lot in my work with leaders. Those are the issue of compliance versus commitment. Now, think about this – compliance and commitment, two very different kinds of goals. But when you have employees orienting their work toward one or the other, the kind of work that results is going to be of a very different quality.

So let’s think about how do people work when their goal is to be compliant? Compliance means that you’re trying to meet some requirement that’s stipulated by policy, by a law, by procedures, by instructions, very specific and oriented toward the control of the way in which you work, so that the results match some predetermined quality. This is important, and in a lot of work places this is something that cannot be ignored. But if all of the leader’s work is oriented toward achieving compliance, something else is going to happen that they may not have planned on. How do people work when they’re trying to meet the minimum requirements? Do they give discretionary effort? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty? Typically not. Are they able to think innovatively, to change the way that they’re doing things because they have a new idea or because they think that they can improve on it? A lot of times they can’t. They don’t feel like they have the freedom to do it. So compliance gets people to work hard toward the minimum requirements and that’s about as far as they’ll go.

Now, let’s think about commitment as something very different. When people work in a way that’s oriented towards commitment, it means that they care about the results, that they have some kind of a drive to achieve a purpose or a mission that they think is important. Now, the kind of work that this generates is really different than the kind of work compliance generates. Because if you’re doing something you care about, you’re not going to do the minimum requirements. Since when do we work on something that’s important just to meet some minimum requirements? We don’t do that. Employees are going to work through commitment in a way that really gives them the opportunity to be innovative, to put their whole effort into it, to give above and beyond, because they want the results to be good, because they think that the results matter.

So as a leader, are you generating work that meets compliance? Or are you generating commitment and generating results that surpass compliance and go above and beyond? It’s in the way you lead. Think about it.


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Empowering Employees: The Most Laissez-Faire Employee Handbook I've Ever Seen

Wow. I finally got around to reading the much-discussed copy of game design company Valve's employee handbook, which has been posted on the Internet for all to see. Probably to put all other handbooks to shame. And, I am impressed.

In a nutshell, it seems that Valve has taken some key principles of Laissez-Faire Capitalism and applied them to one company's corporate culture. 

Here are just a few of the impressive highlights:

Valve is a flat organization. For real. No one 'tells you' what to do. You don't 'report to' anyone. As in a truly free society, it is a group of individuals who are not beholden to anyone, who are free to pursue their own ideas in a rational, voluntary fashion.

Employees choose their own work 100% of the time. Not like those other companies I described in chapter 11 of Employee Development on a Shoestring (e.g., Google, Atlassian, 3M, Facebook, and Twitter) that give people the choice for a percentage of their time. Valve employees are fully self-directed - they are not forced to follow the whims of others.

"you were not hired to fill a specific job description. You were hired to constantly be looking around for the most valuable work you could be doing. At the end of a project, you may end up well outside what you thought was your core area of expertise. There’s no rule book for choosing a project or task at Valve. But it’s useful to answer questions like these:

  • of all the projects currently under way, what’s the most valuable thing I can be working on?
  • Which project will have the highest direct impact on our customers? How much will the work I ship
  • benefit them?
  • Is Valve not doing something that it should be doing?
  • What’s interesting? What’s rewarding? What leverages my individual strengths the most?"

Because all work is self-directed, it's up to employees to constantly communicate to learn about what others are working on and to let others know what they want to work on, what experience they've had, and what their strengths are (as seen in the funny 'Fig. 2-4 graphic above). Their desks have wheels and they can roll their desk to any location and work with any group of people they want to. And when they find something they are interested in, they can just get started working on it - no approval process is necessary. "You will be welcomed—there is no approval process or red tape involved. Quite the opposite—it’s your job to insert yourself wherever you think you should be." (p. 14)

Work-life Balance. Valve promotes a healthy work-life balance and effective time management. "While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in planning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected." (p. 17) This means that employees act with enlightened, rational self-interest, being productive and taking care of themselves to ensure they can remain productive.

Supply and demand hiring practices. "Hiring well is the most important thing in the universe.  Nothing else comes close. It’s more important than breathing." (p. 44) Now that's a pretty unambiguous statement! Valve wants people who are highly collaborative and who possess skills that are 'T-shaped': broad-range generalists with a deep expertise in one area. And everyone is involved in the hiring process, since there are no 'managers'. Everyone is accountable for the results that are produced by their peers, so everyone has a vested interest in helping to ensure that every hire is a good fit and successfully acculturates. So while working in their own rational self-interest, all employees have an inherent interest in the success of others with whom they are interdependently linked to achieve a shared goal.

Finally, I liked how Valve also included an Epilogue in which they disclose what they're NOT good at, such as onboarding new people, mentoring, and disseminating information internally. These can become project opportunities for those employees who choose them as points of focus. Or they may just be 'warnings' to those who may feel compelled to complain about their absence, as in, "we told you so!"

What do you think - how similar is this to your company's employee handbook? How would you like to work in this kind of environment? What else do you think about this? I'd love to have a dialogue in the comments, below!

Image: Valve Employee Handbook Fig. 2-4


Sign up to my free weekly newsletter and get more actionable tips and ideas for making yourself a better leader and a more effective communicator! It’s very short and relevant with quick tips, links, and news about leadership, communication, and self-development. Sign up now!

Also, subscribe to my podcast, The TalentGrow Show, on iTunes to always be the first in the know about new episodes of The TalentGrow Show! http://apple.co/1NiWyZo

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YES! We should ditch performance appraisals!