Monday, April 22, 2013

Implementing an Ementoring program

Mentoring has always been a huge game-changer in an organisation!  Who would not want more mentor - mentee relationships to build a culture of trust where levels of motivation are high and where all team members and their managers become focused on learning and on personal and professional growth.

In the past, mentoring programs have tended to be very formal and have had mixed rates of success.  Some mentee - mentor relationships have grown in leaps and bounds and in other cases, there has been a big start with little follow-through.
Technology has without doubt come to our aid!  My new favorite expression is - "├┐ou cannot  un-invent what has been invented".  The technology to enable e-mentoring is now in place.  As HR and L and D managers, we need to take advantage of what is now invented and use it to improve our service delivery.

The technology is there to enable mentoring to move to another level and has huge advantages:
  • We are able to draw from a wider pool of mentors who are based in different offices and states - the larger the mentor pool, the easier it is to make the right matching arrangements with mentees
  • We are able to provide the platform for shorter, more intensive sessions that happen more frequently - this constant contact strengthens the relationship
  • There is the opportunity to provide a wider program that ultimately has more impact as more people join the program and the impact is felt in the organisation
  • The experience can be more user-friendly and more applicants for both mentor and mentee roles are able to be processed more readily

Yes - there are challenges....
  • Some might not be familiar with the technology AND Yes it is possible to induct them in to using it
  • Some might still demand face to face sessions as the only and best way of doing things.  YES AND remind them that people tried to deter Alexander Bell from inventing the telephone as they preferred face to face contact.....
  • There could be other forms of resistance based on misconceptions about mentoring and the huge value it adds to the organisation.  YES And it is possible to run education campaigns to overcome these obstacles 
AND who would not want - a low upfront investment in the platform and in training the mentors and mentees followed by some monitoring to ensure that the process stays on track and is achieving milestones.
Seems a no-brainer to me:  low upfront investment and loads of rewards as culture change takes place, knowledge is transferred from baby boomers to new millenials and new recruits settle in well.  And that is besides some of the other benefits such as growing and retaining talent, providing women with opportunities to 'lean in' and setting a culture of sharing and learning in place.
Here are some guidelines for implementing a successful ementoring program, the MCI way:

  1. Ensure that each person has the right technology - camera and ear phones with microphones AND your new best friends are the IT team.  Ensure that your ementoring platform is in place and works well.
  2. Get buy-in to form a team of champions - put your marketing cap on and start selling it to key stakeholders
  3. Have training in place for mentors and mentees - ensure that they know what to expect and how to get the most out of their interactions
  4. Do your follow-up: don't just hope for the best that the process will work out.  Be on top of things to provide reports and to check-in that the pairings are working out well and achieving their milestones
  5. Collect success stories - and celebrate even the smallest wins

Thursday, April 18, 2013

LEGO IDEA Conference Denmark 2013

As always, the LEGO IDEA Conference in Billund Denmark is the place to be! If you are seeking new ideas and inspiration, this is where to find it! 
Right to play

Johann Olav Koss - LEGO Prize Winner

Some of my key learnings - some of them incidental...

1. Once again, the key themes were around:
The importance of play and creativity in learning - there is an essential role that play can have to unlock the potential we don't even know we have.

2. Creative thinking scores decline over time.  Between the ages of 3 to 5, our brain develops and uses creativity to solve problems for over 90 percent of children.
Reality shows that less than 2 percent of people over 25 will retain this level of creativity.  How shocking is that statistic!

3.  There is often a feeling that there is no time to sharpen our saw.  We have to make time to find solutions to old problems.  Our educational system forces us to think in grooves and ruts.  Only by understanding how we get in and out of these grooves, can we get out.

4. Creativity is not something you have or don't have.  There is no such thing as being a creative person.  Creativity can be enhanced and fostered. It is at the heart of problem solving.
Systems at school test us to find the one right answer instead of how we get to the answer.

5. We stay in the groove because it is considered that creativity belongs in the arts and crafts category.  We think innovation is important to succeed in the world.  But we don't think creativity is important - although innovation is the result of creativity.
Creativity is around us and we have to seize the opportunities that are presented to us.  Be open to new ideas.  Be tolerant of new ideas.  Be hungry to find new ideas.

6. Exercise this principle in every day life in companies.  Constantly seek new challenges.  Put people in a new environment and it encourages them to think differently. 
You can create something unexpected around you to get your brain trained to be more flexible.

Tips to take away

  • Don't answer a child who asks questions by say that you don't say you don't know.  Ask how will we find out.  Give them the chance for exploration.  Creative play does this.  Allow the time for creativity.  Allow time for guided and free play.
Entrance to the LEGOLAND Hotel and Conference Centre

  • Don't shoot down ideas in meetings.  Give people the pause that respects creativity. 
  • The Challenge is to be able to flip -  be rigorous when you execute and creative to ideate. Have the ability to switch between ideation and robust implementation.
  • The characteristics that enable creativity are playful.  It is not just recreation and goofing off.  It is a thing we do while we are working.  Opposite of work is not play.  Playful work is good.

  • Take the time to go against the flow.  Zig where others zag. 

The LEGO Foundation believes that quality, playful learning can create change and can sharpen saws.  Every child should have the opportunity to unlock their full potential.  The link between play and creativity and life and work preparedness is very clear.

The call to action.  Consider how we can reverse the trend of decline of creativity.  When we see a three year old with their creative genius, remember we can reverse this trend!!

Children building City of the future