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Because the mission of ACE is to foster 'Success through Collaboration', the Membership is resolved to promote internal communication and to enable interchange. One effective means to accomplish these objectives is through Blog activity to broaden the audience for thoughts, activities, and successes. 

This forum enables the members to share expertise and learning regarding topics of interest to the consultant community or to call attention to key work and current activities. However, areas of focus and expertise are better displayed in the Member Directory.

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  • September 11, 2019 12:12 PM | Carrie Green (Yardley) (Administrator)

    At ACE’s Board orientation last month we took time to get back to first principles and talk about what board membership means at ACE.

    As the lawyer on the board I suppose it was inevitable that I’d be asked to talk about fiduciary duty.  A fiduciary duty is the highest duty imposed by law; it means that as a board member you are in a position of trust and must always place the interest and purpose of the organization before your own.

    Somber stuff.  And much more intimidating than necessary.

    Board members do not need to lie awake at night worried that they might make a mistake and lose the house.  They are not responsible for every loss or mishap if they act reasonably and in good faith. 

    You just need to do three things:


    Stay in Your Lane:  The Duty of Obedience



    The duty of obedience means that Board members must obey applicable law, and the nonprofit’s governing documents.  These are your organization’s rules of the road.

    I am sorry to tell you that this means that you are in for an hour or so of dull reading, but you owe it to your organization. All nonprofits are organized under a state statute, receive tax-exempt status under IRS regulations, and have articles of incorporation and bylaws.

    Why is this important? Tax-exempt nonprofits come in a variety of flavors; there are things they must do and things they cannot do if they want to remain tax-exempt.

    For example, a nonprofit charitable organization’s revenue comes from donations, grants, and program revenue. Its funds must be spent to advance the organization’s mission, usually to provide a public service (e.g. library) or serve a disadvantaged group. (e.g. individuals with disabilities)

    As another example, a nonprofit business membership organization’s revenue comes from dues and the organization’s program revenue. By law it must focus on advancing the business interests of its members.  Chambers of Commerce are good examples of this type of organization, as are trade and professional associations (like ACE).

    To get up to speed, I’d start with the articles and bylaws and read them once. It’s easier if you know what you are looking for.

    Organization Type. This is your first lane marker: The articles and bylaws will tell you what kind of organization you represent.  You should find it in the first paragraph of the bylaws.

    Once you know your organization type, go to Google.  The following searches will turn up a wealth of information: “charitable organization” “business league” “nonprofit membership organization” “mutual benefit corporation.”  For bonus points over-achievers can include their state in a separate search, e.g. “Maine charitable organization.”

    Somewhere at the top of the search results you will also find references to the section of the IRS code governing the organization’s tax-exempt status.  A Google search on the section (e.g. 501(c)(3)) will give you many, many hits.  One of the top 10 will tell you what you need to know about what your organization needs to do (or not do) to maintain its tax-exempt status.

    Back to our examples.  A charitable organization’s donors can deduct donations, a business organization’s donors cannot, but they can deduct business expenses paid to the organization, like dues or sponsorships.  A business organization can lobby, a charitable organization cannot.

    Organization Structure. The second lane marker: Bylaws describe the board, the officers, any standing committees, and meeting, election other voting requirements like quorums.  In a membership organization I’d be particularly careful to pay attention to what issues require membership votes.

    Your organization may have a policy or procedure manual of some kind, and if you are lucky it will be well-indexed.  Whereas the bylaws tend to be skeletal, the manual provides detail on how the organization performs its day-to-day activities. Read it for general familiarity so that you know what it covers and where to look things up. 


     Pay Attention: The Duty of Care



    The duty of care is all about financial and management oversight.


    A well-run organization should provide you with the information you need to oversee its finances, and to determine whether management is doing its job.  The information should include:

    • A plan;
    • A budget;
    • Periodic financial reports, ideally in a standard accounting format; and
    • Progress reports on the plan.

    The documents’ complexity will depend on the size and complexity of your organization, but they are unimaginably important to financial oversight. Donors, members, grantors and beneficiaries look to you to spend the organization money wisely to serve its mission, including spending on management. An organization needs to document what it plans to do, how it plans to pay for it, and measure its spending against the plan.

    If the organization does not regularly report this information to the board, your first duty as a board member may be to insist.

    Not all organizations have staff, but if yours does you should understand the difference between oversight and micromanagement.  Oversight means you approve the budget and its objectives, then measure progress.  Implementation is left to management. Try not to be “one of those” board members.


    Remember Whose Hat You Have on: The Duty of Loyalty



    Membership on a board may be “good for business,” but the benefits are indirect: connections and a reputation for effectiveness and community dedication.  When it comes to direct benefits, you must always, always put the organization’s interest before your own. 

    You cannot wear two hats if you want serve on a board.  For the sake of the organization you must:

    • Be prepared to give up business opportunities for yourself, your business and your family members;
    • Be prepared to recuse yourself from discussions in which you have a personal stake;
    • Be prepared not to use insider information, and particularly not in a way that might hurt the organization; and ultimately
    • Be prepared to resign if you can’t resolve a conflict of interest.  It’s time to take the organization’s hat off.

    Remember that your authority has limits. No matter how laudable your intentions, you are not entitled to go rogue.

    The organization is your client, not the other way around.  Would you broker a deal without a client’s permission?  Would you speak on a client’s behalf without guidance? Would you attach a client’s name to an initiative without checking? 

    There’s another aspect of the duty of loyalty that’s often missed: loyalty to your fellow volunteer board members and to the organization’s staff. Respect their time.  Answer their calls and emails.  Read their reports.  Follow through.

    And relax. You're doing a good thing.

  • June 26, 2019 8:49 AM | Waite Maclin

    Reconsidering “The Strange Failure of the Educated Elite” by

    Columnist David Brooks in Relation to Emotional Intelligence and Consulting

    For some time I have had a suspicion that the NYT’s Columnist, David Brooks, has been exposed to and even been trained in the leadership model of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Frequently he has written about the inadequacy of technical and IQ intelligence when it leaves out the human connection, the sense of community, and the concern for others close by and in the larger population.

    This is certainly the case in his opinion piece last year “The Strange Failure of the Educated Elite.” To read the full article, please go to https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/opinion/failure-educated-elite.html.

    Brooks’ initial theme is that over the past generations we have moved from a system based on birth (White, Male, Protestant) to one based on talent. We opened our educational and corporate institutions to an egalitarian, boomer ethos that was socially committed to fairness, social consciousness, and to ending bigotry. And this is good. But Brooks goes on to say:

    “A narrative is emerging. It is that the new meritocratic aristocracy has come to look like every other aristocracy. The members of the educated class use their intellectual, financial, and social advantages to pass down privilege to their children, creating a hereditary elite that is ever more insulated from the rest of society. We need to build a meritocracy that is true to its values, truly open to all. . . But the narrative is insufficient. The real problem with the modern meritocracy can be found in the ideology of meritocracy itself. Meritocracy is a system built on the maximization of individual talent, and that system unwittingly encourages several ruinous beliefs.”

    What I gain from his article is that we have so focused on the individual that we have lost a sense of community. That results in only seeing one’s worth or value to society in relationship to others.

    Here is where I connect Emotional Intelligence with Brooks’ fine opinion piece.  I am listing his five “Ruinous Beliefs” and, in bold, indicating how each belief relates to one of the EQ Competencies (listed in bold).

    David Brooks says that we have developed these ruinous beliefs:

                Exaggerated faith in intelligence - “Today’s educated establishment is still selected on the basis of I.Q.  High IQ correlates with career success but is not the crucial quality required for civic leadership.” An EQ Competency - Emotional self-awareness: the ability to understand our own emotions and their effects on our performance.

                Misplaced faith in autonomy – Our youth are urged to go on . . . “a solitary unencumbered journey through life toward success. If you build a society upon this metaphor you will wind up with a society high in narcissism and low in social connection.” An EQ Competency - Organizational awareness: the ability to read a group’s emotional currents and power relationships, identifying influencers, networks and dynamics.

                Misplaced notion of the self – “If you base a society on a conception of the self that is about achievement, not character, you will wind up with a society that is demoralized; that puts little emphasis on the sorts of moral systems that create harmony within people . . .” An EQ Competency - Empathy: the ability to sense others’ feelings and perspectives, taking an active interest in their concerns and picking up cues to what is being felt and thought.

                Inability to think institutionally – “The current generation sees institutions as things they pass through on the way to individual success.” Thus the work of the institutions such as Congress, educational systems, and yes, the Church, are blind to their social and community responsibility. An EQ Competency - Teamwork: the ability to work with others towards a shared goal; participating actively, sharing responsibility and rewards, and contributing to the capability of the team.

                Misplaced idolization of diversity – “Diversity is a mid-point not an endpoint . . . Diversity for its own sake, without common telos is infinitely centrifugal and leads to social fragmentation.” Thus diversity becomes the focus as a concept and not as a means to a more inclusive society. An EQ Competency - Inspirational leadership: the ability to inspire and guide individuals and groups to get the job done, and to bring out the best in others.

    Brooks concludes with this rather jarring comment: “Those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods in the old establishment had something we meritocrats lack – a civic consciousness, a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, and we owe a debt to community and nation, and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self.”

    Is this not what we who strive for “Consulting Expertise” are about in our interaction and work with our clients?

    C. Waite Maclin, M.Div

     

     

     

     

     

  • January 08, 2018 3:02 PM | James Milliken

         “News is what I say it is.”

         That was my editor friend Brad, demonstrating the plain-talk part of his straight-up style of management.

         It was a while ago, when the news industry was in one of its periodic fits of self-examination, ignited by public outcry over some now-forgotten issue of what’s news and what isn’t.

         Uncertainty about that definition troubled Brad not at all. He devoted no time to such matters.

         The point of this reminiscence is to introduce Brad as  a model of leadership clarity. You didn’t always agree with Brad or like his way of doing business, but you always  knew where he stood.

         “This is going to be the worst three months of your life,” he’d tell a newly hired staff member. “But if you make it, you’ll know the job.” That was intended to tell you to take  90-day probation period seriously – as Brad himself surely did.

         The daily newspapers of New England eventually became thick with Brad’s graduates. Beginners who survived Brad-style probation didn’t stay long at his paper. They cashed in elsewhere on the tough-love training – other editors with fatter wallets knew what they’d get by hiring these newswise professionals.

         Brad’s assurance in his concept of news grew from his knowledge of his readers’ tastes. He had done his homework. Brad’s paper was stuffed with small-town minutia in an era when most dailies were dropping such material in favor of longer magazine-style studies of metropolitan issues.

         And Brad posted circulation increases as everybody else lost ground.

         His way might not have worked anywhere else . . . but he wasn’t anywhere else. He was in his territory, supremely unaffected by trends and fads that periodically sloshed through the industry. He was local, editing a very local newspaper.

         Brad made it his business to know his business, and he was relentless in his  management of it.

         And that’s what set him apart from every other editor I met in my 30+ years in that business. Others could meet deadlines, and many knew writing, reporting and/or the other specific skills of newsgathering, as did Brad.

         His margin was in his unparalleled ability to organize and lead groups of people in a situation that demanded accuracy, energy and the efficient deployment of curiosity and imagination. He got results.

         He never deviated. His people, once learning his expectations, never had surprise problems with their assertive boss.  

         There was nothing specific to the news business in all that. Brad’s management essentials were universal, and we all could learn them – whatever our specialty or profession – by doing what Brad did.     

         His highest-level skills were not core practices of news. Any manager is only as good as her/his ability to achieve high productivity through the work of other people.

      

         Brad’s gruff manner actually was the initial act in sorting out those who could handle news reporting from those who couldn’t.

         Any kid intimidated or put off by a blunt introduction to his/her new boss would have struggled in workaday conversations with small-town cops and politicians. Likewise if your self-confidence couldn’t sustain the prospect to being on trial for three months.

         But Brad’s set of management skills was much broader than just that.

         He was a good teacher and a thoughtful counselor. Once the ground rules were unmistakably established, the way was clear for introducing the how-to stuff, and that’s what Brad did.

         I’ve known other managers who would grump, “I didn’t take this job to be a handholder.”

         Of course you didn’t. But if you can’t educate your people in ways that really help, you don’t have the capacity to contribute to their professional growth.

         They depend upon your leadership. You must know what they need, and you must give it to them. Withholding what you know guarantees you’ll always have a ready supply of inadequate staff people to complain about.

         You won’t develop the quality group output you’re being paid to produce.

     

         Brad didn’t lean on his senior management or his peers and associates. If they all had known what Brad knew, management would be significantly better, and not just in newspapers.

          Of course, Brad made sure his owner knew and approved of what he was doing. Brad was confident, but not crazy. In his case, the boss was very happy and the relationship was excellent.

         Brad’s thorough homework included knowing the chosen strategies and direction of his senior management, and he stuck with them. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone to work there.

         Brad’s attitude toward the editors of other papers was friendly and positive, but his philosophy and opinions were his own.

         Brad was liked and respected. And relentless.

        

     Question: How do you balance empathy and certainty in your relationships?

     

    SEE ALSO: Put Me in, Coach: Role vs. Soul


  • June 02, 2017 1:31 PM | Anonymous


    When considering cooperating with your competition,  there is a natural tendency to resist.  In many instances those relationships can be beneficial and can lead to business growth,  as well as flexibility to take on different work and improving your reputation.

    An engineering manager recently rehired a project engineer who worked for his company in the recent past. Shortly after the original hire, the manager told him that their work backlog was insufficient for sustaining their group. Based on tenure, his position would likely be eliminated. Out of respect for their relationship,  the manager called a competing engineering firm, with whom he had an established relationship, to let him know about the project engineer’s situation. The manager described the situation and shared the project managers’ resume, along with a strong endorsement.

    Keeping in good standing with your competition just makes good sense. The sudden turn of business wasn’t the fault of the manager, and the project engineer appreciated the willingness of the manager to make the introduction. Referrals  and recommendations to a competitor are great examples of how collaboration can benefit everyone who is part of a business community.  With the changing needs of the marketplace, your competition may exchange employees with your company on a regular basis.  In Maine, we see this happen frequently.

    – – –

    Yacht manufacturing is a business that would seem not to be affected by the fluctuations in the economy, but that is not the case. Layoffs were a part of the companies’ culture to adjust with their level of business. This is common with most manufacturing firms but nevertheless damaging to their reputation. Since 2008, one particular company has been on a tear with a  30% increase in orders  from last year.  The business is very labor-intensive, so skilled tradesman/craftsman are critical to the success of the organization.

    Five years ago, the company hired a new General Manager , one who has struggled for the last 3 years to find the level of talent necessary to meet the demands of their growth.  This past year, his focus shifted. Along with tapping the local technical trade colleges for talent, he started speaking with his competition to ask them about establishing an alliance by providing their shops with overage work if they have the capacity.

    The hope is that it would minimize the need to bring in more people and would require training and on-boarding resources only to be released in a 2-3 year time-frame, when their workload leveled off.  If they could stem this continual hiring influx, they can concentrate on developing their core competencies;  processes/lean optimization, materials enhancements, leadership skills, product development/brand development. By developing a  sub-contractor workforce with the competition,  they  hope to develop a stronger client focus and reduce the negative impacts that are associated with layoffs.

    – – –

    Liam Holt is a  recent owner of a machine shop on the 495 hub of Massachusetts. Having been in the business for over 20 years for 8 different employers in the industry, he knows all the machine shop owners in the area.

    “It’s very competitive but also supportive,” Holt explains. “People lend tools and give advice freely [whenever someone] encounters a problem.  It’s a favor bank that you help your local shops, because you never know when you will be in need of help.  The ultimate respect is when your competition recommends you on a job”

    Recommending your competition happens in business all the time.  Your ability to accept work depends on many factors, including current workload, logistics, or willingness to undertake an all-or-nothing project. If you can best serve an existing customer by referring a better suited competitor,  it speaks volumes for your understanding that your customers needs come first.

    Selecting a Competition Partner

    When considering business partners, there has to be potential where both businesses benefit by working cooperatively. Trust and understanding are critical for determining consideration. When you refer a business or recommend a person, you take ownership in being a part of the process, good or bad.  There is risk associated with taking on any job, but when you recommend a business that you don’t fully know, that’s using bad judgement. Before you refer someone, you must know and trust them implicitly. Do they have the same values/business ethics? Do they stand by their product or service? Are they known as a company that overstates and under delivers? Or vice versa? Do they conduct themselves in a nonprofessional manner?

    As you get acquainted with a prospective partner, be sure to speak with a few people/customers who know and/or have used their service. After making your choice,  collaborate on smaller projects that would minimize risk for damaging your reputation. When there is a deliverable involved, be sure to have periodic reviews for measuring performance for both parties for quality and customer satisfaction considerations.

    Opportunities to Partner 

    In the spirit of cooperation, here are comments from fellow ACE Member Doug Packard’s Coopetition article from Mainebiz May 30, 2011, about selecting a partner competitor.

    The extent to which you partner with a competitor can take many forms. You may decide to rely on a range of partnerships, depending on the competitor and the type of customer engagement, such as:

     Referral system: Both businesses inform each other of opportunities that the other can handle more efficiently in return for an agreed-upon referral fee. To work well, both firms must refer business to each other on a regular basis.

    – Sub-contractor relationship: Depending on the situation, the sub-contractor can represent the originating firm or themselves. The originating company invoices the customer and handles project management while the sub-contractor takes on particular tasks or skill requirements.

    – Joint project partnership: Both firms work directly with the customer, and each invoices the customer for work performed. But the two firms also work closely in supporting the customer and collaborating on the project.

    Developing New Partnerships

    Getting comfortable with new partners can be daunting, but it can also help you to grow. Establishing a relationship with a trusted competitor can lead to discovery, awareness, or information that wasn’t known previously. Keep an open mind for fostering  competitive relationships, since it can lead to a better bigger-picture understanding.

    In my friend’s words: “Many business leaders may not be ready to take the coopetition step. But those who are successful over the long run usually earn a reputation for thinking of customers’ interests first, and coopetition is one of the best ways to demonstrate that. There are few secrets you need to worry about protecting from competitors, because business success usually comes down to relationships and execution. If you do both well and take care of customers, you will succeed. Try developing a matrix of your products and services by industry and geography to see if there aren’t some opportunities to accelerate success with a coopetition strategy.”

    – – –


  • April 12, 2017 3:36 PM | Anonymous

    April 7, 2017

    Bland Marketing – Don’t let your brand lose focus

    Contact: jim@caseyommunications.biz

     

    There was a time not long ago when BRAND implied a highly focused strategic basis for what a company promised the public - what it stood for. The brand was the ultimate competitive advantage, and marketing the brand was a full-time job. These days, more and more it seems to me that brand marketing has become bland marketing - undifferentiated, me-too and dressed up in the latest designer look & feel.

    It amounts to brand blasphemy perpetrated on one’s own business. It’s not fair to the consumer or the company. But in these difficult economic times, unfortunately, too many companies settle for expediency rather than strategy.
    Instead of engaging and earning the trust of consumers bland marketing triggers suspicion and ire, which becomes the standard consumer posture.

    Understanding why this is happening is pretty simple. Most marketers just don’t do the hard work of identifying their company’s true raison d'être, assuming they have one. They are pressed for results so they settle for an idea that feels like a USP and works...in the moment. I’ve seen lots of examples of one brand annexing a competitor’s brand, adding a slightly different spin (hey, if it’s working for them, it can work for us!). The resulting marketing is uninspired, un-motivating: bland marketing.

    Let me be clear, there are many, many, many great brands out there. They are great because at the core they stand for something important to the consumer and the company. They represent value; they deliver on a promise that is important to the consumer and that engenders trust and allegiance. Internally, that promise drives the actions of the company. Great brands are nurtured continually by everyone in the organization. It’s hard work.

    Bland marketers need to pay attention to and learn from the greats.

    Creating a brand is hard work. Creating a successful brand is hard work, continually.


  • February 04, 2017 10:53 AM | James Milliken

          “Don’t argue with me – I have debated before the American Bar Association.”

         That is one of the more efficient discussion killers I have collected in a lifelong study of human conversation. If the remark doesn’t instantly freeze the other party, it sets an agenda for a losing exchange. You are put down and set up in one neat pre-emptive strike.
         Are you going to now argue about whether you’re arguing, or debate debating with a master debater?
         You got into the conversation originally to explore differences and seek understanding. It hadn’t occurred to you that it was a competition. If that’s what it is going to be, you’ll need to reorder your entire frame of mind. Probably need to do some research, too.
         That is, of course, if you buy the choice you have been so smoothly locked into. If you don’t buy it, how would you rate your chances of resetting the basis for why we’re talking? 
         Perhaps the politic thing to do is just acquiesce and withdraw.

         Here’s another, this one relying upon blunt force to nail a point:

         “That’s where you’re wrong.”
         Hey, I was just offering an idea, not picking a fight. Wrong or right wasn’t the point. Now that it unexpectedly is, I’m either flummoxed or mad . . . or both. If I’m not careful, we’re off into an utterly irrelevant argument about manner, facts, sources or events.
         I’m not prepared for that, and the sour outcome pretty much kills off whatever it was I started out to explain.
         Both of those examples involve managers and staff members, and both accurately reflect how the relationships were conducted as a regular matter. When the exchanges occurred in the presence of third parties, they were instructive for all – and sometimes intentionally hyped for that purpose.
         As with all communication between people, each of the conversations had two main components: Intention, or purpose; and tactics, the visible/audible action to execute the intention.
         If you think such a description makes too big a deal out of a simple comment/response, you’re mistaken.

         Think about it: There are people you are in regular contact with who make you feel good, just by the way they relate to you. They’re cheery, interested, responsive, always happy to see you. Your working arrangement with them may be virtually nonexistent, but they’re in your daily life and you’re happy to have them.

         If, on the other hand, they are directly above you in the organization’s hierarchy, it can be a pleasure to go to work each day, to exchange suggestions, carry out assignments and resolve problems. You can feel yourself growing, and you love everything about it.
         Now back to those two put-down artists. When someone fixes you with a steady gaze, pauses and says in a firm, even tone, “Now that’s where you’re wrong,” the statement sticks. The moment takes on some importance, and the criticism cuts somewhat deeper, because that is the obvious intention.
         Generally, with such a person you never know when you’re going to absorb a gratuitous slam. They ambush people, and you’re going to be cautious and restrained around them.

         As with so many other workplace realities, this intention/tactics consideration has a heightened effect in Project Management.

         When your project is heavily characterized by complexity, dependency, risk, time constraints, etc. – that is, is a real project – the project manager and key decision makers really need to trust one another.
         The relationships do not necessarily need to be close and warm, but the personal agendas must be open and truly collaborative. The moment-to-moment interactions must demonstrate sincere respect and responsiveness.
          When something needs fixing, including the actions or behavior of a teammate, there is absolutely no question that a constructive outcome is the sole strategic goal . . . and professional courtesy characterizes the tactics.
         Effective project managers make sure it’s that way. No argument.


  • March 18, 2016 1:27 PM | Stephen Jenks

    I just met a guy providing services to small consulting firms and individual consultants that allows us to get information comprehensively and inexpensively. His name is Guy Cohen and his company is Ask Wonder. Here's how it works. you go to askwonder.com/request, and write your question. They charge $30 / question and you get really a lot of information including all the sources they researched in answering your question. There is no membership, no fees involved. Here are some sample questions asked. Click on them and you can see the responses and sources:

    Typical use cases are:

        
  • December 18, 2015 5:01 PM | Anonymous

    For those who are making presentations and want nice graphics - here is a site that was brought to our attention.  Uli Stewart posted this through to the ACE Linkedin groups but was spammed as "inappropriate" 


    Data Visualization Template Tool

    Nice (free) Infographic tool that our talented marketing partner recommended. Can you apply it to your business or does anyone want to share their experience in using it? https://infograph.venngage.com/templates Thanks Louise Merriman!


  • February 20, 2015 11:13 AM | Anonymous

     

         On Thursday, February 20, I will be facilitating an open Round Table discussion, “Building Your Mentoring Program,” for members of the Association for Consulting Expertise (ACE).

         It has been suggested that ACE organize a mentoring program for our 60+ consultant members, with their varying levels of consulting for marketing, sales, management, process improvement and coaching, to name a few of our areas of specialty.

          This is a subject of vital importance to all of us, so I am using the occasion to offer some ideas on how it should be done.

    Background

         Most successful organizations use mentoring to simulate learning and creativity. This is a way for newer people to benefit from the knowledge and more experienced colleagues. When they have a structured/formalized programs, members can take the time to develop their skills. That offers great rewards to all those who participate, as well as the companies/groups that foster them.

         I have mentored several people over my 25 years in the recruiting field, and have found it an enriching experience. Seeing people grow and thrive over time has been a wonderful experience that has helped shape the person I am today.

         Our preferred model for hiring has been to bring on people who have no specific recruiting experience, and train them. We have always been competitive within the industry and among the branches in our company.

    Mentor Success Factors

         While mentoring that results in enhancing teammates’ performance is very gratifying, by no means is success a given. Factors that weigh on the outcome include communication style, personality, receptiveness to feedback and ability to focus on the needs of the individual client.

         The mentor must take ownership of the role. One’s ability to be coach, adviser, instructor and advocate is critical in communication as a mentor. Determining the mentee’s learning style is very relevant, as are strong listening skills to meet the necessity for open feedback.

         Prerequisites are patience, persistence and thoughtfulness on the mentor’s part in establishing a trusting relationship that builds confidence in the process. Confidence in and comfort with the depth of the mentor’s proficiency is illustrated by their use of stories.

    Conducting the Process

         The mentor needs to gauge the mentee’s enthusiasm and drive for learning to determine how to plan and execute the training process. If the mentee is to fully engage, he or she has to be open to the subject matter, and see the value in it. Reinforcing the learning process by employing those practices should be a part of any successful mentoring program.

         Proper mentoring takes that into account by having a plan in place to closely monitor and evaluate progress to maintain alignment with the set goals and objectives. Open and honest feedback by both parties is especially essential here.

         Being a champion for the mentee is one of the most critical elements for success. Frequent praise, support, acknowledgement of progress and of good ideas will generate enthusiasm, and encourage the furthering of the mentoring process.

         The end goal is to have the mentee be comfortable and confident enough to employ the newly learned material, growing and evolving the use of the skills.

    How to Proceed?

         “Success through Collaboration” is the defining statement of ACE, and that underlies the intention of establishing a formal internal mentoring program. The mission of the mentoring program will be to provide a framework for building members’ consulting skills – thereby meeting our responsibility to be the best we can be for our clients, and for ourselves.

         Given the varying needs and experience levels of the 60+ members, the methodology is as-yet unclear. As a start, here are the initial steps we will discuss at the February 20 Round Table discussion:

    1) Application Process

                    Mentors

                    Mentees

    Where are we now?  The plan is to develop a more formal mentorship program with a clear vision for a working program.   Should it be a requirement of ACE members to participate?  Where should meetings be held? What would be the time commitment?   

    2) Matching Process

    Defining the needs/wants of participants; defining the application/matching process. 

    Who are the mentors and how would a potential mentee reach one?  What does the mentee in a mentor; is there a suitable match for addressing the need?

    3) Mentoring Process (needs analysis)

    Any successful program requires goals and objectives.  Goal setting can be difficult but defining the parameters correctly makes for a tight alignment.  Using metrics to gauge progress and outcomes is critical.

    4) Process Improvement

    After a mentoring period, there should be an evaluation from both parties. What was learned? How will the subject matter be reinforced? What might be future considerations?

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