Tag Archives: HR


Many of the qualities that make a person a good partner in a personal relationship are also found in a good mentor. He or she should be a good listener, committed to the relationship, considerate of the other person’s feelings, trustworthy, and faithful. Maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude and having a good sense of humor helps ensure friendship and respect, which are needed for the protégé’s success.

People who appear cool and emotionally detached are seldom good mentors because they are not easily approachable. Mentors with relaxed body language and an open, friendly attitude encourage their protégés to confide in them and to trust that they will be available for help whenever it is needed. By making solid eye contact and exhibiting positive and frequent reactions to the protégé’s conversation, the mentor underscores that the protégé and the protégé’s ideas are important.

Open dialogue can lead to the disclosure of information that is meant to be confidential. How much confidentiality that is shared is between the two parties in a mentorship. A mentor should never coerce information from a protégé, and is expected to protect confidentiality unless the limits of safety to people or the organization are in question (or, of course, there are legal concerns). Similarly, the mentor should not reveal confidential company information. Limits should be discussed at the outset of the mentorship so that everyone knows what they are.

In addition to exhibiting good relationship skills, a mentor must serve as a role model. It is not unusual for protégés to mimic characteristics of mentors they admire, but they must also be encouraged to make these characteristics their own. The goal of a mentor is not to create a clone, but to foster a protégé’s growth and development.

Although shared values create strong relationships, the mentorship relationship must leave room for the protégé to choose values that may differ from the mentor’s. A protégé may also develop abilities that the mentor does not have, which can be difficult for the mentor to accept. A successful mentor recognizes and celebrates these accomplishments, for a goal of mentorship is for the two individuals to become colleagues who can benefit one another.

Throughout the mentorship, an effective mentor reads the protégé well and is able to tailor the mentoring experience to that person’s emotions, personality, and drive. The mentor must not be a perfectionist nor allow the protégé to become one. Accepting limitations without expecting them creates a healthy learning environment.

Most important, a good mentor must be trustworthy. For example, a mentor should be able to keep appointments, follow through on promises, and speak honestly in every conversation with his or her protégé. Trustworthiness is exhibited when the mentor behaves with the utmost integrity in both personal and professional activities.




Mentors’ behaviors have a more powerful impact on protégés than words do. Protégés pay attention to behaviors, and when they observe their mentors’ traits and see a connection to career success, they will want to adopt similar behaviors.

Mentors should model several different types of behavior. For example, technical expertise is important, but interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence hat have the greatest impact. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize emotional responses to situations and manage them productively. There are four attributes mentors need to demonstrate strong emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness. When mentors are aware of their own weaknesses and discuss them candidly with protégés, they are modeling self-awareness. For example, a mentor can ask a protégé for feedback on any aspect of the mentor’s performance. By accepting feedback without defensiveness, the mentor has set an example of behavior that the protégé can emulate.

2. Self-management. Self-management involves dealing positively with stress and not letting emotions overtake rational thinking when difficult challenges arise.

3. Relationship awareness. Mentors who have good relationship awareness are able to step outside themselves and see situations from others’ perspectives. They begin discussions by first trying to understand another’s viewpoint.

4. Relationship management. Conflict in situations or relationships can impede progress. A good mentor knows how to manage conflict by respecting others’ viewpoints and by looking for positive change.



An organization can maximize the potential of its internal workforce through mentoring programs. By developing its existing staff, a company can save on the cost of hiring from the outside, uncover hidden talent, boost staff retention, and see protégés direct their creative energy toward finding innovative solutions.

The key to a successful mentoring program is to match the right level of mentoring resources to the right workers. Different combinations of resources applied to different workers yield various outcomes. For example:

*Spending a limited amount of time and energy mentoring workers whose jobs are repetitive with limited growth opportunity may result in talent stasis, or decreased opportunities for people to create value within their organizations.

*Spending a large amount of mentoring resources across the board for everyone in the organization can result in wasted resources because not all workers have the potential to develop enough to justify the investment.

*Spending only a small amount of mentoring resources on people who have great upside potential results in wasted opportunities for development.

*Spending a large amount of resources on mentoring and carefully matching the right mentors to the right workers provides the best leveraging of talent and resources.


Informal mentoring occurs when a mentor and protégé naturally gravitate toward each other and form a bond. It is the most effective type of mentoring. It often happens when a senior leader in a company wants to help a junior member who is having career struggles similar to what the senior member once experienced. Or, a junior employee may aspire to a higher position and approach the senior person for advice. This type of mentoring relationship tends to have strong emotional components.

In formal mentoring, a company organizes a mentoring system to match mentors to protégés. Since people are directed to be together rather than naturally coming together, there will need to be a period of trust building and exploration of joint interests.

How organizations can make the best matches in a formal mentoring system is not fully understood, although it is sometimes compared to a dating service. An essential ingredient in the matchmaking is giving the mentee major input into the process. A company can compile a group of people who are willing to be mentors and then the protégés can select who they want to work with. Mentor profiles can help protégés find people with backgrounds, positions, or other qualities that might be a good fit. Other types of information that should be included in a mentor profile include:

*Background information, such as age, location, marital status, ethnicity, and college affiliations.

*Career details, including current and previous positions.

*Professional interests, such as an interest in technology or an industry specialty.

*Personal interests that can help build rapport, such as politics, sports, or fitness.


Mentors need to possess three fundamental skills before they can implement the nine mentoring practices:

1. Understanding self-actualization. Once people have met their basic survival needs, their motivation turns to personal fulfillment. Mentors need to understand their protégés’ ideas of what they need to have meaningful and fulfilling careers.

2. Fostering self-awareness. Mentors must help mentees become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and guide them in developing plans for improvement.

3. Having empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience and engage effectively based on that understanding. Empathy can be cultivated by listening more than talking and asking open-ended questions.



A detailed plan is essential for success. Based on initial assessments, leaders must determine specific courses of action for each stage of the process and what resources will be needed. They should then focus on winning over key people in the organization.

The Plan

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.55.13 pmDespite the pressure to show quick results, leaders must take the time to develop in-depth plans spelling out what is expected, the implementation process, the cost, and what is due when. This will help their teams work more efficiently and communicate better. Insufficient support can exhaust team members and undermine a project. A well researched “resourcing plan” can help ensure that the human side of the change is addressed as well as the technical needs.

Those affected by the project need clarity about their respective tasks and the overall effort. These rules, including the decision-making process, should be spelled out up front to avoid conflicts later. Employees also need time and practice to learn new skills, change the way they think and behave, forge new connections, and assimilate new working processes. People need to be able to talk about the change until it becomes the norm. Project leaders must help coworkers make these adjustments.

Major change always entails significant risks. Initial plans are inevitably based on limited information; project leaders must recognize the risks, anticipate problems, take steps to minimize them, and make plans for dealing with those that do occur. Companies often focus on technical risks while downplaying the ways people actually behave.


Change teams must have the skills needed to execute project plans. Leaders must consider the optimum team size and what each member brings to a project. It is easier to obtain needed resources at the start of a project than halfway through. A slim budget may look appealing, but it will hinder results. After management approves team member selections, leaders must win those employees over. It helps to consider why individual candidates might be reluctant: perhaps they prefer their current assignment, worry about the impact on their career, or wonder what will happen once the project is completed.

Good leaders can help reduce team members’ fears. A good leader must be organized, able to see what is missing, have strong interpersonal skills, and know how to solve problems. They must be honest, weather challenges gracefully, and know themselves well enough to recruit team members who can supply the skills they lack. The initial team meeting should establish how the leader will manage the project and expectations concerning team members’ behavior. Humor must be incorporated to offset stress and keep people from breaking down.

If a leader is thinking about hiring a consultant to help on a project, the consultant must be chosen carefully. Project leaders must see past consultants’ personas to assess how much they actually know that relates to the project at hand, and whether they will do the work themselves or enlist less experienced staff.

Change with Confidence

Change with Confidence provides a detailed toolkit for leaders charged with heading up major change initiatives. Drawing on his own experience, Phil Buckley discusses the various stages that are common to change projects, spelling out essential steps to be taken and pitfalls to be avoided. Understanding team members’ needs, communicating with them effectively, providing the support they need throughout the process, and managing relationships with key “stakeholders” are what will make change initiatives succeed. Buckley provides a useful resource for those tasked with the daunting challenge of implementing significant organizational change.


Change initiatives involve changing how people behave in the workplace. To overcome the inevitable resistance, project leaders must first consider how those coworkers are operating now, what specific changes are needed, and how hard it will be to achieve them.

The Plan

Significant change projects can be daunting, particularly to the person assigned to lead them. To help keep the inevitable fears at bay, change leaders should begin by considering what assets they have that will prove useful, such as connections with colleagues and demonstrated skills.

Big changes have far-reaching effects on both the people involved and the tools they use. Leaders must consider their organizations’ unwritten behavioral “rules” that could create obstacles. Organizational history provides valuable clues on how the current project may be viewed. If other change attempts have failed, it is essential to understand why. Coworkers and written records can provide useful perspectives. Failure to realistically assess what it will take to achieve success could undermine the project and negatively impact leaders’ careers. Leaders must also consider what other projects are competing for resources and organizational support. Perhaps staff can be shared or schedules adjusted to minimize “traffic jams.”


The project head must identify key people who can advance or impede the undertaking and understand those individuals’ personal agendas.

In addition to upper management, the team leader must also win over the employees who will be most affected by the change. Companies often launch too many simultaneous efforts and fail to see them through; this creates negative expectations. Strong communication helps combat this tendency. All affected parties should be consulted and included from the start, and inaccurate perceptions must be corrected promptly.

Getting Results

Failure to understand existing conditions before agreeing to performance targets can be disastrous. Big changes are stressful for both the project team and coworkers who must assume additional responsibilities. Top management’s degree of commitment, the project’s fit with overall organizational goals, and the change team’s experience level must be considered. It is essential to specify how progress will be gauged at the outset. The project head should recommend metrics aligned with the company’s overall goals and avoid measurements that can be skewed by outside forces.

Every business has its own “myths” that must be taken into account. Projects based on assumptions rather than facts will probably fail. Leaders must look past those organizational beliefs to consider what the change is supposed to accomplish and whether there are other, simpler options.

Management often expands change assignments without allocating additional time or resources. This is known as “scope creep,” since the scope of the project has increased from its original position. Once project leaders agree to the increase in scope, they will be held to those more demanding standards.



To fight commoditization, companies in many industries are shifting their marketing focus from products to solutions — packages of previously stand-alone offerings. But this change requires significant structural change in order to release and leverage the knowledge and expertise that traditionally reside in silos. Four sets of activities are necessary to break through common organizational boundaries:

1. Coordination. These activities allow employees to concentrate more on the needs of their customers than of their silos. Coordination may involve the creation of new functional or geographic units, but a less disruptive approach is to layer boundary-spanning, customer-centric structures over existing ones.

2. Culture. Cultural elements like metrics and incentives play an important role in fostering a cooperative environment. For example, people should be evaluated and rewarded based on customer-focused behaviors. Service to the customer should be included among key organizational values.Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 7.08.34 pm

3. Capability. Coordinated, cooperative environments require both multi-domain skills (ability to work with multiple products and services) and boundary-spanning skills (ability to forge connections across internal boundaries). But because such generalist capabilities are not widely rewarded or developed, it takes a deliberate effort to create generalist training opportunities and attractive career paths.

4. Connection. The final component in the silo-busting effort is to forge new links externally. For instance, it may be possible to cut costs by outsourcing, or to create even higher-value solutions by working with a complementary partner.



The idea of defining and describing personality types is as old as civilization itself. Famously, in 400 BCE, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen believed humans were dominated by one of four “humors:”Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 00.57.18

1. Sanguine people were cheerful and confident

2. Melancholy people were pensive and gloomy

3. Phlegmatic people were calm and steady

4. Choleric people were mercurial and ill-tempered

The field burgeoned when Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that humans engaged with reality using predominantly four “functions,” which he identified as thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. In the 1940s, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, avid students of human behavior, used Jung’s theory of types to develop a personality assessment model; they believed that understanding the needs, behaviors, and motivations of workers would help wartime employers more effectively and successfully match people new to the workforce — primarily women — to jobs that would suit them best. Since then, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) assessment has become one of the most widely used and extensively tested personality assessment instruments available. Other type-based assessment models exist, with the best of them (notably the Keisey Temperament Sorter) based on or drawing heavily from both Jung’s work and the MBTI model. The Color Q personality assessment instrument also draws on the seminal work of Briggs and Myers.

Zichy’s Color Q personality assessment divides the population into four groups and assigns a color name to each of these dominant personality preferences:

*Greens — 17 percent of the population. “Creative” Greens are empathic, humanistic, and compassionate theorists with highly developed written and verbal communications skills. Happiest in egalitarian, idea-oriented, supportive environments, they embrace change and pursue it enthusiastically.

*Reds — 27 percent of the population. “Action-oriented” Reds resist rigidity, schedules, and hierarchies, preferring to act on instinct, follow their impulses, and rely on their ability to remain calm and capable in crises. Excellent negotiators and troubleshooters, they value flexibility, variety, and fun, collegial work environments.

*Blues — 10 percent of the population. “Visionary” Blues excel at dealing with complex, theoretical issues, developing new systems, and strategic thinking. Competitive, precise, and unfailingly logical, they value knowledge for its own sake. They prefer setting their own high standards and benchmarks to explaining or maintaining someone else’s procedures and systems.

*Golds — 46 percent of the population. “Grounded, realistic” Golds excel as administrators and protectors of systems, people, goods, services, and schedules. Detailed list-makers and organizers, they appreciate procedures, respect chains of command, happily rally the team and lead the effort, and gladly accept responsibility. They resist change and dislike abstractions, hypotheticals, and untested ideas.

Each of the four colors can be further refined by the addition of a “backup” personality style, a set of secondary characteristics: Greens can have Gold or Red backups; Reds can have Blue or Green backups; Blues can have Gold or Red backups; and Golds can have Blue or Green backups. In addition to falling into one of these eight subcategories, people will be further classified as either extroverts or introverts.



People who think positively outperform better-trained, pessimistic workers by more than 50 percent. The prevailing thinking pattern of a team or an organization defines what it is and what it does. The boundaries that the leader sets determine the type of thinking that prevails.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.41 pm

Naysayers can influence everyone around them in negative ways. Anticipating negative and positive outcomes causes distinct chemical reactions in the brain. The threatened brain freezes up and works at diminished capacity. Anticipation of good outcomes causes the brain to produce dopamine, which makes it more alert and interested. Leaders should model the philosophy that action produces positive results.

In contrast, those who are negative in their thinking have learned to be helpless. Rather than taking action to banish pain, they believe that no matter what they do, the pain will remain, so they do nothing. The brain learns to be passive and shuts down. This style of thinking has three stages, known as the three Ps:

1. Personal: People blame themselves, thinking they caused the problem because they were bad.

2. Pervasive: People generalize that the problem from a single situation applies to every situation, believing nothing can go well.

3. Permanent: People believe the problem can never change for the better. Nothing will be different, so why try?

One important role of leadership is eliminating negative thinking when it seeps into the organization. Find-a-way thinking separates people whose circumstances overcome them and people who overcome their circumstances. As long as leaders set strong boundaries that do not allow negative thinking, employees will find a way. The belief that success is within reach is one of the strongest predictors of goal achievement.

Feel Connected with teams


Improving performance by learning new skills is not the only way to heighten production. Sometimes, improving performance depends upon changing the emotional atmosphere and improving employee relationships.

When people feel connected to others, they experience less negative stress. Relationships change brain chemistry, making people less vulnerable to negativity. To foster a feeling of connection in the workplace, leaders have to set aside the right kinds and amounts of time for interacting.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.58 pmMore meetings build connection and unity. They should involve talking about work, behaviors, roles, and responsibilities, so people can see the different ways their experiences connect with those of others.

Leaders should have several types of meetings with their teams:

*Daily check-in: 5-10 minutes.

*Weekly tactical: 45-90 minutes.

*Monthly strategic: 2-4 hours.

*Quarterly off-site review: 1 to 2 days.

The most important ingredient for successful meetings is having a predictable schedule and structure.

Another way leaders can set boundaries is by creating connections. Factors that neurologically build connection among coworkers include:

*A shared purpose that is clearly defined within the meeting.

*Awareness that allows everyone to operate from the same facts and realities.

*Nonverbal cues, such as turning off cell phones, that indicate a willingness to actively engage with others.

*Collaboration in an environment where people are physically and mentally present and engaged in problem solving.

*Coherent and relevant narratives that engage the brain more fully and illustrate people’s roles in the company story as it moves forward.

*Conflict resolution that confronts those interpersonal issues that hinder high performance.

*Emotional regulation that results from connecting with others for feedback and empathy.

*Emotional reflection that focuses on the present and leads to insight and openness within the group.

*Emotional repair that occurs in a group bound by mutual trust.

*Listening that is active and intentional so that each member of the group knows and understands the others.