In this month’s issue of Success Strategies, we take a look at change and handling what that entails in a relatively smooth fashion. We also look at key success factors in our Mentor relationships. It has been said that the resistance to change is more difficult that the change itself. We really have to be committed to make the necessary adjustments to our lives or careers and be willing to accept the realities of the new situation. What we discuss in this issue is the notion that we can employ our mental faculties and actually plan those changes, the logistical as well as the emotional impact. While rarely without concern, transition of any kind can be managed constructively. We humans seem to possess great resources for handling the known- it’s the unknown “surprises” of life that throw us off. Change is inevitable, but inner chaos is not. We suggest a methodical approach for your consideration to assist tin dealing with it. We also suggest that Mentors are made, not born. Mentoring has become an important ingredient in developmental as well as in our personal lives. With the complexities and pressures existing in the workplace, having a Mentor as a sounding board and as a guide is fast becoming standard operating procedure. Once again, there is a skill set involved in being a high functioning Mentor. Wanting to help is just not enough-the mentee needs clarity, goals, tactics, encouragement, and a feeling of safety to ensure a positive experience for both parties. We have observed radical change in individuals when the correct ingredients exist in a mentoring relationship-one plus one makes three, is our thought-a greater whole comes from smaller parts. However, this is not instinctual, good mentoring must be learned.
Embracing Change And Managing A Smooth Transition
Everyone of us at one time or another has had a moment in our careers (or our lives for that matter) when we have asked ourselves the uncomfortable question, “How much longer can I continue to do what I am doing?” It is an uncomfortable question as it begins the process of moving out of our current comfort zone to a place in our lives that appears to be of great uncertainty.
Change of any kind or at any level can be a daunting process, but a necessary one for personal and professional growth and development. Although it is often times easier to just “stay put,” it is far more rewarding to move forward. Dr. William Bridges, author of Managing Change and Transition, outlines the change process by illustrating the three phases of change as well as what to expect from these phases and what is needed to successfully move through them:
Phase 1: The first phase of change is what Bridges’ calls “ending.” This is basically the recognition that the time has come for us to move on. It is the process of letting go of old patterns and habits before embracing the future.
Phase 2: The second phase of the process is that “transition zone.” People report a feeling of being disconnected from the past, yet emotionally not connected to the present. This phase can offer a great opportunity for creativity if anxiety and fears are readily managed.
Phase 3: And lastly, the “new beginning” phase is one of action as we have finally let go of old patterns and have made a commitment to the life style or change that will accommodate new opportunities.
One of the things we forget to consider when mentoring or coaching someone is the human tendency to resist change. For example, when a mentoree enters into a mentoring relationship they have made a decision to make potential changes and ultimate transitions in their careers. Sometimes a mentor will experience this resistance first hand. It is helpful to know in advance what to be prepared for and how to help a peer or colleague move forward or get “unstuck.”
The following are a few simple ways in which to successfully challenge others to embrace change and make that exciting transition:
- Construct a personal “Vision Board.” This is the fun part. Create a list of those goals and objectives that you would really like to see yourself actually accomplishing in the next few years. Then add those dreams you have been harboring for years. By actually putting them on to paper, they have now been established as an actual goal. By formally acknowledging those grand ideas, you are setting into motion where it is you really want to go.
- ‘To Thy Known Self be True.’ To successfully manage change, we must first know how we, with our different personalities and behaviors, react to change. For example, are you the type of person who embraces change and will you tend to get bored if things stay the same? Do you need time to prepare for change? Do you react positively or negatively to unexpected changes? By analyzing our own strengths and shortcomings, we are better equipped to embrace change and make smooth transitions.
- Seek new Role Models. You can begin making corrections to your current behaviors and lifestyles by modeling your reactions and patterns to those you most admire and whose positions and lifestyles you hope to someday achieve. Review again your goals and observe those who are currently living out your very goals, dreams and objectives. Their behaviors and choices have obviously gotten them to where they are today.
The key to successful transition is constant evolvement of our goals, behaviors and dreams. Our personal and professional journeys are just that – a passage from one opportunity or success to another. Have a great journey!
Mentoring – Developmental Activities
The mentor plays a key role in designing developmental learning experiences for the mentoree. Often, though, a mentor’s first question is, “How do I design a developmental activity?” The first step is to identify a need that offers the greatest opportunity for improvement and focus an assignment to address this need. Secondly, the activity should be one in which the mentoree will learn without becoming discouraged or feel overwhelmed and where the learning environment will be “safe.” Finally, ensuring an effective means of feedback from the activity is vital to achieving and solidifying the developmental goal of the activity. The following are a few ideas for developmental activities within five specific realms of employee experience.
– Style – Encourage mentorees to solicit feedback after meetings from trusted colleagues as to how their communication style is perceived by others.
– Listening Skills – Practice listening skills by having the mentoree listen to someone explain an issue and then recite the major points of the argument to that person in order to see if they have captured the main purpose of the discussion.
– Writing – Have the mentoree draft an internal memorandum and evaluate the writing style and tone in terms of company expectations and effectiveness of the communiqué. Provide feedback.
– Presentations/Briefing – Provide feedback after a presentation has been delivered. Ask for feedback from others who also received the brief.
– Problem Solving – Encourage the mentoree to tackle a problem within the organization from an analytical perspective incorporating the views of the major stakeholders and create a plan to address the problem.
– A Fresh Look – Have the mentoree walk through the office space with “new eyes,” asking themselves if the environment reflects the culture and values that are important to him/her and then discussing these new insights with you.
– Unwritten Rules – Have the mentoree speak with at least three senior managers about what they consider to be the organization’s “unwritten” rules and why they are important.
– Information Sharing – Have your mentoree set aside a specific time monthly (or more often as required) to share new knowledge and information with his/her team members.
– Team Orientation – Encourage the mentoree to solicit feedback from team members in terms of how team oriented he/she is. Determine if team members feel that the mentoree pushes his own ideas rather than listening to the collective voice of the group or that he considers or fails to consider how decisions will affect the other team members.
– Membership – Have the mentoree join an “ad hoc” team or committee assignment as a team member and monitor his/her behavior within that role.
– Collaboration – Have the mentoree serve on a project requiring collaboration with a variety of different perspectives and disciplines to see what barriers he/she may face.
– Shadow an Expert – Ask the mentoree to follow an expert for a day and to prepare a paper on what was learned from this experience.
– Stretch Goals – Encourage the mentoree to take a project outside their normal area of expertise or comfort zone.
– Networking – Encourage the mentoree to foster a network of situational “technical” mentors by spending time with them on a monthly basis.
– Professional Conferences – Mentorees should attend at least one professional conference per year with the goal of strengthening their technical skills in at least one area.
– Priorities – The mentoree should discuss his/her team’s top ten priorities with a senior manager.
– Goals and Deadlines – Encourage the mentoree to maintain a work journal, chronicling their deadlines and daily work goals to identify time wasters, times when they are most and least productive, and means of controlling the use of their time.
– The Power of Experience – Have the mentoree interview three key executives who balance their time with ease to glean insight into the techniques and processes for doing so.
– Efficiency – Have someone visit the mentoree’s office and provide constructive feedback on its efficiency.
These are just a few of the myriad developmental activities that you can recommend to your mentoree in order to help them become a more valuable asset for the organization. Use these as guidelines to create your own developmental activities that focus on the critical aspects of employee success. Most of all, try to make the activities interesting, non- confrontational, and even fun whenever possible.
Doug Dvorak is the CEO of Dvorak Marketing Group, Inc., a worldwide organization that assists clients with productivity training and customer service and sales excellence management workshops. Doug’s clients are characterized as Fortune 1000 companies, small to medium businesses, civic organizations, and service businesses. Doug has earned an international reputation for his powerful educational methods and motivational techniques, as well as his experience in all levels of business, corporate education, and success training. His background in sales, leadership, management, and customer loyalty has allowed him to become one of world’s most sought-after consultants, lecturers and teachers. This vast experience has helped him shape and determine his philosophies on success in business, which he now shares annually with thousands of individuals through keynote presentations, syndicated writing, television, seminars, books, and tapes. If you would like Doug to address your organization with a dynamic and educational presentation, or if you would like to host a workshop, please contact Doug at (847) 359-6969 orDoug@DougDvorak.com.
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The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
– Winston Churchill
A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.
– Victor Hugo
With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.
– Keshavan Nair
To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.
– Felix Adler
Doug Dvorak Dvorak Marketing Group
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