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Women In Business

12 Questions for Mentoring Success

May 17, 2019


The articles frequently say that mentors give advice and sponsors give opportunity. This isn’t always the case. Based on my experience and research working with hundreds of mentors and thousands of mentees, I have found that the most successful mentoring relationships are rooted in a two-way dialog where mentors and mentees ask each other (and themselves) questions that result in career-advancing insights and opportunities for the mentee. Here are some examples.

Questions Mentors Should Ask Their Mentees

  • What do you want to achieve for yourself, your team and your company? This question allows both mentors and mentees to zoom in on specific strategies and behavioral changes that are in tune with the mentee’s goals. It moves the conversation from general to specific.
  • Why is this goal important to you, your team and the company? In asking this question, the mentor is doing a non-threatening reality check. He or she is helping the mentee assess if the goal is worth the effort needed to make it happen.
  • What difference will achieving your goals make? This question opens up a big-picture discussion about what is likely to happen when the mentee’s goals are achieved. It allows the mentee to assess the potential impact personally, professionally and corporately. It’s not uncommon for possible negative outcomes to surface (e.g., more time away from the family). These are not necessarily deal-breakers, but they are needed eye-openers.

Questions Mentors Should Ask Themselves

Too often mentor/mentee relationships are defined by the mentor telling the mentee what to do. In my experience, these are the least successful relationships as they tend to be short-lived and disappointing. For best results, mentors need to think of themselves as listeners and sounding boards, helping their mentees broaden their horizons. Asking themselves questions like these will help mentors successfully fill those roles:…

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3 Mentoring Relationships that Matter Most for Women

May 14, 2019


Having worked with hundreds of organizations and thousands of talented women for over 25 years, I have found that in order for women to realize their career goals and to become active contributors to corporate success, they need three distinct types of mentors.

1. Operational mentors

Operational mentors provide advice and counsel on the right way to get the job done and the obstacles to avoid while getting it done. These mentors are women or men who can help with the day-to-day problems that arise as a woman strives to excel in her responsibilities. They are especially valuable as she moves into different positions and may feel uncertain about the best ways to handle her new job.  

In selecting operational mentors, women should look for someone who has succeeded at the particular job function and who is currently tuned in to both best practices for that job and to industry-wide trends. Operational mentors can come from within the organization or from other companies. 

2. Strategic mentors

Strategic mentors help a woman gain greater insight into what the business is all about and which of her talents and skills best dovetail with corporate needs. The primary role of strategic mentors is to help women learn to connect with influential leaders within the organization. These mentors work with a woman to develop strategies that make her more visible to the right people at the right time so that corporate leaders see her as a needed asset to growth and profitability. In other words, strategic mentors help women understand how to get noticed by those who matter.

In seeking out strategic mentors, women should look to those who understand both the obvious and subtle workings of the organization. They should ensure that the mentor is someone they respect and trust; and that he …

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Celebrating Working Moms in the Office

May 3, 2019


On Sunday, May 12th we will celebrate mothers nationwide for Mother’s Day, a celebratory day that dates back to 1908. The next day, working mothers, who represent a third of working women, return to work as they do each Monday, aiming to strike the delicate work-life-family balance.

It is oft-referenced that being a parent in itself is a full-time job, as balancing work and kids, coupled with other life events can be (more than) a handful. According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, “a record 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.” It is not surprising flexibility to balance work and life issues ranks second to compensation as the reason employees stay or leave a job, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Here are five ways to celebrate the working moms in your office:

1. Give them a plant

To show appreciation for the working moms in your office, give them a rose or small plant for their office. Small gestures go a long way to show appreciation, especially in the workplace. So much so that 84% of HR leaders say an employee recognition program helps employee engagement.

Plus, plants are an easy way to add color to the workplace. As highlighted in our Earth Day blog, studies show that spending time near plants makes people happier and healthier, reduces mental fatigue and aids concentration. Take it a step further and host a plant/bouquet-making event for all the employees, and be sure to send off all working mom’s with one to take home.

2. Hold an off-duty potluck

Host an appreciation potluck planned and prepared by the …

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5 Behaviors Women in the Workplace Need to Jettison

April 12, 2019


Co-authored by Beverly Wallace, the vice president of executive development, talent and capability at Prudential.

The advancement of female talent is a multi-faceted, many-phased journey. While much attention is rightfully placed on changing corporate culture, attacking unconscious bias and moving away from the “old boy network” paradigm, there’s comparatively little focus on the needed shifts in attitudes and behavior by women themselves.

In our decades of working with major corporations in developing their female talent, we have pinpointed five career-thwarting behaviors women need to jettison. While women themselves must choose to shed these behaviors, success depends on the help and support of their managers, mentors and organizational leaders. Women have to do it themselves, but they can’t do it alone.

1. Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a career derailer that starts early and stays late, especially for achievement-oriented women. It sabotages success by keeping women turned inward, rather than expanding their horizons to focus on customer and organizational needs. Perfectionism also stops women from seeking roles and assignments for which they have many, but not all, qualifications. Here are some ways women can turn away from perfectionism.

  • Leverage your networks to better understand customer and organizational needs. Then meet those needs with excellence.
  • Reach out to key leaders and decision makers to increase your understanding of business objectives and prioritize accordingly.
  • Broaden your perspectives by asking for advice from peers and superiors.
  • When reviewing new opportunities, consider how to create impact, rather than focusing on having all the requirements.

2. Likeability

In general, women have different organizational expectations than men. They tend to be the nurturers and the peacemakers. As a result, they can be reticent to “tell it like it is” for fear of not being liked or being viewed as too hard-nosed. There is certainly …

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