For those of you who are unaware, the Society for Human Resource Management (#SHRM) holds a weekly chat on Twitter. Every Wednesday over lunch we hop into interactive idea sharing of what we can do to usher change into the Corporate World. It's called #NextChat and you are free to participate in (or just troll) the conversation. I do not know of a better place for HR Professionals, Advisers & Business Partners to gather such a candid glimpse into the profession.
For over a decade, we've been tackling the Generational Life Cycle that is exercising its inertia in the Corporate World. We've pounded our heads into the theoretical wall strewn with post it notes marking the topics of succession planning, knowledge capture and leadership development.
When I first entered the workforce, I was elated to be chosen for a Mentorship Program our company was conducting. Top Performers were to engage with V Level business leaders to have their questions answered and to be given direction. I was paired with a VP to whom I did not report for the sake of ensuring transparency and reservation of judgment. The premise was simple, the opportunity was paramount.
It Was The Greatest Opportunity of my Young Career!
... then the program started!
I got on the conference call bridge to chat with my assigned mentor, after 30 minutes of dead air, I sent him an email asking if he needed to reschedule. He never replied. A member of our HR team responded to my inquiry a few days later assuring me this person would honor their commitment next month. My excitement was replaced with disappointment. A month later he was kind enough to email me from his blackberry, "I'm unavailable for our call today, I've heard great things". As my peers touted the incredible insight they had gained from the program, my disengagement continued to grow. When I voiced my disappointment to my unit Vice President, she explained to me that I had to respect the fact that those in her position seldom had time for programs that didn't benefit their bottom line (those were the words used). I was encouraged to hang in there....!
What could have been the company's greatest opportunity to vitalize their internal talent pool became an example (of many) HR positioned programs that were poo poo-ed by Senior Managers.... ultimately causing a mass exodus from the company.
I've heard HR Leaders profess that they offer training, but not too much, for fear that the participants would take their skills elsewhere.
In the same way I had been failed by my mentor, many extraordinarily busy people who had dedicated their time to our Mentoring program were burned. Mentees used the opportunity to bitch about the company vision, ask questions to prove they knew the answer and to challenge every word of advice the Mentor extended.
Several years later on the aforementioned #NextChat I was able to articulate the virtue (and potential draw backs) of Mentoring Programs.
When asked how Mentoring programs have changed we need only understand how the workforce has evolved. Mentors can now benefit from interactions with up-and-coming stars as much as said aspiring leaders can from those they look up to. The opportunity for Leadership to express humility may possibly be the key to Employee Engagement across the Global Spectrum.
Where I was let down by an assigned Mentor in the past, now people can seek out advice without having to wait for it.
How Cool... to find social alignment with people you admire without waiting for an introduction.
Business Leaders who seek to control based on tenure are soon to face a certain future: Early Retirement!
If you fail to realize that leadership is an act of servitude, you never were a leader!
To deter the leadership development of the next generation is no different than keeping your child from playing baseball for fear that they might be better than you were.
Don't Forget to Remember!
Originally posted on Dave's Weekly Thought blog.