Peer Mentor Network

Friday, June 23, 2006

Proactive Career Development

We've had significant discussion here before about how much of your development you own. I've mentioned things like "you own your development" and "be your own advocate". While it is important that your company supports employee development and provides you with useful tools, don't expect them to do all the work for you. I recently found a presentation from my company that quantifies this concept. Keep in mind, these are just guidelines for development opportunities:

  • 75% Learning On The Job (performing your day-to-day tasks and building job-specific skills)
  • 20% Learning From Others (peer groups, role models, mentoring, career planning)
  • 5% Learning From Education (formal training, books, conferences/seminars, tuition reimbursed degree programs)
According to this presentation, research shows that people learn more through experience than classroom education. Personally, I think learning styles vary between individuals, but that's not important. What's important here is that my company is telling me what their priorities are. Formal education doesn't appear to be high on that list, so if I am serious about wanting to go to the XYZ seminar, the onus is on me to seek out those opportunities - I can't expect my manager to take the initiative to send me there. Obviously, my company places a much higher value on learning on the job. To support this position, they offer cross-functional assignments, job rotations, and special projects.

Think about what signals your organization is sending you. Do they actively promote certain methods of development over others? Find out what their priorities are and how well they align with yours. Only then will you have a better understanding of how proactive you need to be. Most importantly, take full advantage of the tools that your company offers! Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Walk This Way

Two weeks ago my company hosted a "mentor walk" - pairs of mentors and mentees gathered just before lunch time on a Friday and walked a mile loop around the campus. I've been working here for over two years now and this is the first company sponsored event to support mentoring that I've heard of since I came on board.

The opportunity to get more informal time with my mentor was incredibly valuable. We were able to discuss things that we wouldn't normally talk about during a one-on-one session in his office. After the walk we all had lunch together. There was a lot of "meet and greet" going on. Everyone introduced their friends to their mentors or mentees so it quickly became a casual networking event.

If your company doesn't do anything like this, I would encourage you to talk to someone from HR about the possibility of setting it up. The only cost to the company is water for the walk and box lunches. The result is an energized team with renewed confidence that the company is taking an active role in employee development.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Try A Book Club!

I had a conversation with one of our vice presidents in Denver recently about a book club she is involved in. Her ideas were inspiring so I wanted to share them with everyone. Once a month, a group of about six mentor/mentee pairs meet to discuss a section of a book they are all reading. Teams take turns leading the meetings which would involve some sort of ice breaker and discussion on the assigned section of the book.

Ice breakers could include talking about the first job you had and what you learned from it.

Some of the books they are choosing from include Political Savvy, Making Network Connections Count, Crucial Conversations and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. To make it easier for people to get involved, human resources is trying to get funding to start a mentoring library.

I immediately thought this was a great idea for a number of reasons:

  • It is a great networking opportunity - meet managers and peers with common interests
  • Proteges can learn from mentors
  • Mentors can learn from proteges
  • You will learn something just by reading

Thanks for sharing this unique form of mentoring Linda!