Thursday, November 6, 2008

My article has been published...

I am happy today that my article has been published in the International Mentoring Association's November Newsletter .. It is fun to be seeing it in black and white :) and gives me a lot of joy that it has reached a wider audience... The article is titled" How mentors can increase the engagement of mentees"

The link here takes you to the article

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Every little step counts...

How relevant is designing a good Mentoring program? Though there are several angles to this, Two critical questions to consider are:

1. Is an organization mature for a Mentoring program?
2. How relevant is Mentoring as a people development practice?

There are several angles to look at when we consider the first question. I believe that Mentoring cannot be an isolated event in the workplace. Inputs for the program need should come from Managers, potential participants and from inhouse development programs. This reiterates the fact that Mangers must be willing to don the "MENTOR CAPS" as a way of life in organizations.To ensure participation, the program design and outputs become a key point to consider. The Program design has to encompass People, Process and systems. Lets not forget that an organization is a wonderfully designed system akin to the Human Body. Creation of any new program/process/system can cause an "equilibrium wobble".My friend, Muralidharan Raghupathy rightly says, "mentoring is done to improve the attributes of the person.If we have to consider improving the attributes of a person, then the mentoring program has to be deep, targeted and highly customised for individual needs at the end of the day". It also then becomes an imperative that mentoring is "one on one" and has a 360 degree focus on the mentee from the mentor and the organization. To enable this 360 degree focus, the mentoring program has to have a framework and at the same time,ensure flexibility, what i call " Flexible Framework".

To focus on the second question Relevance of Mentoring as a People Development practice- the sub question would be: Do we have too little or too many related practices? How do we differentiate Mentoring from the rest?
I still remember when we had the preliminary discussion regarding the Mentoring Program in MindTree, many of these questions were debated across many colleagues. I also know that to finally freeze on a specific approach took us close to three weeks and i truly believe those deciding days were crucial for the success of the program.
In reality, people in organizations are in a hurry all the time. It is more a mindset to set time apart and enable a willing mentee to develop holistically. In that sense, the program design should be aligned to appropriate recognition systems that encourage participants and appreciates their time and selfless efforts towards contributing to the growth of a fellow employee and overall contribution to the organization's people development plan. All said and done, mentoring is a selfless activity but lets remember "Encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least"
I hear an "echo" - program design is crucial to the outputs of every mentoring program...
A staircase composed of very small steps can reach just as high as a staircase made of large steps, and the climb is much more manageable. Every little step counts.
Doing just a little is infinitely more rewarding than doing nothing. And just a little can quickly lead to just a little more.
Five minutes a day adds up to two and a half hours a month, and thirty hours over the course of a year. If you spend those five minutes each day making minor improvements, they can steadily bring about major accomplishments.
Offer one small gesture of kindness each day and multiply it over the course of a lifetime. You’ll find your world filled with rich, rewarding and genuine relationships.
Every little step counts, because the little steps are usually the ones that actually get taken. There’s virtually no risk, and yet the rewards, over time, can be enormous.
What one little step would make life better for you this very day? Get in the habit of taking small positive steps, and you’ll create big, lasting success.
-Author Unknown

Nature, Wisdom and Learning

The Tables Turned

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;Or surely you'll grow double:Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun above the mountain's head,A freshening lustre mellowThrough all the long green fields has spread,His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:Come, hear the woodland linnet,How sweet his music! on my life,There's more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!He, too, is no mean preacher:Come forth into the light of things,Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth,Our minds and hearts to bless--Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal woodMay teach you more of man,Of moral evil and of good,Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;Our meddling intellectMis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:--We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;Close up those barren leaves;Come forth, and bring with you a heartThat watches and receives.

- William Wordsworth

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Discernment and Mentoring

I am pleased about a few right things about mentoring and not so pleased about a few other things about mentoring. It is nice to have a mentor as a confidant. What if this mentor cannot keep the discussions to himself and shares his mentee's apprehensions with someone else? Worse still- what if the mentee overhears this? this is not an assumption, let me tell you. This really happened in my work place. When the mentee shared this with me, to simply put- i was SHOCKED beyond comprehension. Despite mentors being trained and prepared before their mentoring engagement, if such a breach could happen, i wasn't sure and honestly wasn't prepared for this. At this point, i reflected on the " maturity quotient" of a mentor. I certainly believe that for a mentor, it is not enough if he is intelligent, emotionally strong and perhaps spiritually deep: he has to be mature enough to discern the deep from the peripheral issues. Sifting them comes with experience and an innate ability to sieve the "wanted" from the "unwanted" conversations. A mature mentor will be able to draw fine but firm lines when it comes to sharing his mentee's problems with someone he trusts also. This also makes me think- If the mentor does not have a solution to a mentee's problem, is it apparently right to seek a third's person's opinion and to what extent can this sharing happen? How do we define boundaries because we also know that one mentor cannot and " need not" know all. Does this mean that apart from the competencies of being a great listener, communicator, observer and a neutral judge, a mentor should be extremely mature in his temparament. How do we measure maturity? Should we measure at all? I believe discernment and mentoring go hand in hand at the end of the day!

Joe and I

As they always say,Conferences and workshops are the best places to network and discover like minds. I was so glad that i did not have to each time explain what Mentoring was all about in the IMA conference. It made such a huge dfference to share your thoughts with others who are in the same area of work. So much discovery in mutual learning.
IMA's president Joe Pascarelli is a wonderful person to know. So rich in information and so simple and approachable. Two qualities you would want in a mentor- right?
His opening session was so full of life and energy. It left me amazed at how deep mentoring can be at the end of the day...

At the International Mentoring Association Conference -2008

Isnt it that memories are so precious? What would we do without them -especially the fond ones( i have an innate ability to forget and slash the not so fond ones: BTW) So, when i presented my paper in the International Mentoring Association(IMA conference) in April 2008, little did i know that the event would turn out to be so memorable for me and fall in the " fond memories" category in my life.
Not to forget- Vegas is so vibrant anytime of the day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mentorship and experience

Should a mentor be experienced and a senior always? i have been attacked by this question by many of my colleagues - especially the less experienced ones and i have wondered why? maybe there is a beautiful aura in just " being a mentor" the feel and the experiences it can create for mentees. Coming back to the question, i am not only totally confused but remain unconvinced yet. By the definition of a mentor, yes, he/she is a mentor since he/she is knowledge intense. Can we relook at the definition? am mulling over... Do less experienced people not have relevant experience, maybe they have an entirely new set of experiences from which we could seek to learn. Its all in the mind anyway? am not going further on this today....

More links to my posts in Harvard Business site - Key link which takes you to specific contributions

Individual links are also here... let me know what you think. - Leadership and Theatre - How will millenials manage? - Neuroeconomics - Science or fiction? - Whats to be done about Performance Reviews? - How do we respond to the dependency ratio dilemma? Is case method due for overhaul? Why is succession so badly managed?

My Musings in Harvard Business site

Harvard has always fascinated me. It remains a sure shot dream of mine that some day, i have to study in Harvard. Do not exactly know how life will take me there- but have this stange sense of intuition that i will get there:) we all live on a diet of a huge platter of dreams,right? well i have many more- making a trip all by myself to Swiss, visiting Egypt and not to forget Jaipur.

Perhaps idea of Harvard is what triggered me to read up more and discover ways of getting there, should i say at least on their website.. so, here i am.. many of my notes have been published online in HBS working knowledge, the links are given below.At least now, i have the satisfaction that i am someway connected though in a very, very remote way:)

So,get set, here we go...... - How Sustainable Is Sustainability in a For-Profit Organization?
I believe an organization can sustain itself when there is a constant focus on both long and short term sustainability. It's not waking up one fine day to find that sustainability becomes a topic to discuss and debate or have a sudden strategy session. It should be a constant focus especially when profit organizations tend to grow inorganically in a short timeframe. As an organization moves from one growth phase to the other, sustainability must occupy a place of importance and must push the organization to align/realign its strategies such that sustainability is the foundation on which several other facets emerge. This is especially true for several Information Technology organizations which mostly has inorganic growth. Sustainability then acts as a "push factor" for the organization's upwardly growth.
Organization Consultant
MindTree Consulting

In the Media

I was quite happy that Mentoring was being given so much prominence in the media. Here is a link where my inputs have been published. It is a nice feeling- i must tell you:)

Hope you enjoyed...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Do perspectives change?

Through the mentoring process, do perspectives change? Isn't it true that we cling on to our ideas, stand point, thought angle when it comes to learning? Thats probably the reason why learning is so difficult as adults. Unlearning becomes an effort since we all bring to the learning table our embedded learning principles, learning values and learning perceptions- not to mention all the related apprehensions associated with learning. In the organizational context, learning takes varied forms through on the job learning, role modeling, special assignments, e learning, and of course mentoring.
All these learning forms bring different hues and different views. What i enjoy about mentoring is the fact that it is so personal and so impactful as a long term learning avenue. Being with the mentor, sharing experiences, rumbling thoughts across, bouncing ideas and at the end of it all- being able to understand the mentor's perspective is the most beautiful part of the learning journey.. i call it a journey because i seem to never have enough of the " mentoring experience" more so, "mentoring moments". They are moments of bliss.
Mentoring is a process packed with energy.The energy is latent at first, then is potential and power filled and then is so kinetic all the way. Seems like a physics revision:) mapping different subjects always gives a new angle to thoughts-dont u agree?
So, did my perspectives change post my mentoring journey(it still continues) All i can say is YES to a large extent. Why? Its because effective mentoring is a very subtle way of pushing ideas across and leaves the mentee to chew, mull and digest. And anything that is not forced is always accepted- and that includes love, learning and discipline:) thats what my father used to always say...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Mentors

My mentor? I have had two mentors to be precise. Both of them were my superiors at my work place. Two entirely different profiled mentors- in terms of their approach to problems, temparaments, communication, thought processes, work dynamics: i could go on. That itself was the biggest learning for me - being associated with two completely different people at work. In terms of learning, i should say that it was probably one of my best learning period in all my career. Every day, there was something new that was round the corner for me to absorb and emulate. Did i see them as role models? Yes, for a large period of time. I looked upto both my mentors in the good times and the not so good times. One of them was one of the finest manager i have come across. He was there to pull me up when things did not go my way and was also there to ensure that good work was always credited to me. When things were grey and black, he used to take responsibility of those blunders of mine without a whimper. Such maturity,grace and openness in ensuring his reportee(me) scaled the career ladder. The other mentor was a perfectionist with loads of temper. Even the tiniest mistake was not acceptable. It was like i were a small kid and would long for appreciation. It would come but with only with perfect work. High standards and high expectations were his basic parameters at work. For ages, i remember i never knew what he thought of my work and he had me guessing until i decided to move on...I learnt grace, maturity, patience, empowerment from one and perfection, raising my performance bar & constant improvement from the other.

I am in touch with both my mentors : at a personal and professional level . It is almost five years that i moved on from a fantastic organization

Hats off to both of them - now and always. They are the people who made me what i am today professionally. Both taught me to dream and both ensured that i chased those dreams! and its only natural that i thank Gopal and Ravi ,my managers in Lister Technologies through this blog:)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A fine line that differentiates Coaching and Mentoring

Suddenly i feel i have not done justice to my blog and have quite forgotten how long it has been that i penned. Its fascinating to note that there is such a thin line that differentiates mentoring and coaching and for many years, i thought they were the same. The other day, Deepa just triggered this conversation and well, one thought led to another and suddenly, we were debating non stop! Do mentoring and coaching overlap? What are the similarities and how different are they? The first difference is that mentoring probably works best when the mentor is not your reporting manager (probably) am not trying to rub on the wrong side folks:) Is coaching a subset of mentoring? I believe so. Mentoring is certainly beyond learning immediate skills, using them to perform better at the work place or as a person! Mentoring is "HOLISTIC"- i truly love this word.. in fact, offlate people have started associating my conversations with "holistic"," typically" and of course "Mentoring"- sorry, a wee bit away from the subject...I have received several responses to this question as part of LinkedIn answers and some of them are worthy of reflection. I am sharing a few here :

David Goshorn wrote:
I would like to answer you question with a bit of an explanation. I believe coaching and mentoring to be greatly different. In mentoring, the mentor is the expert who gives knowledge and training to the protege. In coaching, the person being coached is believed to have (or at least have the ability to obtain) the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job. Coaching is more about getting the greatest potential out of the person being coached, from what that person already has. Coaching is a way of building confidence, where I see mentoring as a way of building competence. A person who already has the skills necessary to do a job, doesn't need a mentor. A coach would be better suited to help that person perform at their greatest potential. That said, to answer your question, I would have to say that it depends. It depends on the needs of the specific organization. Coaches would be better suited for group that is seeking to help their people perform at higher levels. Mentors would be the solution for ones that are seeking new skills or career paths.

Jeroen Kaldenhoven wrote:
Dear Meenalochani,
Coach An expert on people and personal development. Typically a skilled specialist regarding a certain topic, competency, or industry. A coach's role is to provide structure, foundation, and support so people can begin to self-generate the results they want on their own. Coaching is a process of inquiry, relying on the use on well crafted questions, rather than continually sharing the answer to get people to sharpen their own problem solving skills. Learning and growth are achieved by both parties involved. In coaching, the relationship is objective, and the focus is not only on what the person needs to do to become more successful but also who the person is and how he thinks. A coach works on the whole person and is multidimensional, rather than focusing only on what the person is already doing. The coaching relationship is built on choice rather than necessity.
Mentor An expert in a field, industry, or at a company who typically acts as an internal advisor. Usually this is done on a professional level to advance the mentored person's career. Often mentors have their own approach already in mind and use the system that has worked for them in the past, without taking into consideration the style, values, integrity, or strengths of the people they mentor. As such, the mentor offers more solutions and answers to the person they mentor, rather than questions that challenge people to change their thinking and behavior; making this more of a one way, training-driven vs. collaborative (coaching) relationship. Mentors may also have something to gain professionally and, as such, have their own personal agenda. Often, mentors are not trained, and their guidance is based more on their experience rather than the skills or proficiencies needed to mentor. Often, the mentoring relationship is need-driven rather than driven by choice.
Hope this helps, regards, Jeroen

Rhonda M. Perry wrote:
Coaching and mentoring differential as I see it. Mentoring you “pay it forward” and coaching you” pay"

Jason Potrzeba wrote:
I think which one would get used more in the corporate context would depend on the experience level of those needing the motivation and direction. If you have a core group of “seasoned vets” than the coaching to bring them to their personal best would be more useful. If however, the group is lacking in the experience department, a mentoring program may be more appropriate.
I’m not sure what type of corporate environment you are referring to but there might also be a third option here, if you have a core group with good experience, habits and individuals who get results, you might be able to pair them up with the newer less experienced employees working under some sort of mentoring program. You could probably still offer some coaching on a smaller scale.

Steve Stokes wrote:
A mentor is one who guides by way of demonstration. The novice/student is expected to emulate the mentor in order to learn what the mentor knows.
A coach is one who guides by way of explanation. The novice/student is expect to do as the coach instructs in order to learn what the coach is trying to train.
There is of course overlap in both these approaches. Some coaches mentor and some mentors coach.
On 10/16/08 11:48 AM, Steve Stokes added the following clarification:Obi Wan was a mentor for Luke, Yoda was a coach.

VC Murali Swaminathan wrote:
This question is asked quite too often. The differences are at one level very subtle. The major differences between Mentoring and Coaching are: * Mentoring process is critical in the socialization phase of a new entrant in the organization, whereas, coaching process occurs in the context of work environment for effective performance. * Mentoring encourages an informal relationship, whereas, coaching is a formal contractual relationship. * The emphasis of mentoring is reflection and guidance, whereas, coaching develops specific skills & learning in an individual * Mentoring passes on wisdom, whereas, coaching emphasizes on personal change via self-awareness and self-reflection * Solutions are OFFERED in mentoring, whereas, solutions are EXPLORED and DISCOVERED in coaching. * Mentoring is a part of coaching, whereas, coaching involves the use of counseling skills. * Mentoring focuses on inspirational role-modelling, whereas, coaching focuses on measurable performance improvement.

From meeeeeee now:):):)

So many thoughts and so little time.. i also realise how vast out thought processes are and what a blessing that is indeed. What would we do without "thought diversity" and how mundane life and existence would be. So, thanking all the people who contributed to my question, here is me signing off for now:)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Does LOCATION matter?

Well, its yet another day and yet another challenge. I wonder if Mentoring is going to be a roller coaster ride considering the fact that i always believed that it perhaps will be a smooth sail:) Great expectations! “Initiative is key. Anybody who wants to be somebody is going to work as hard as they can to fulfill that dream.” Well, am unsure which of the three i want- initiative, work or a dream:) i guess three's company in my journey- so am going ahead with initiative, work and DREEEEEEAM

As i returned home today post my mentoring engagement study, i wondered if the location of a mentor and mentee really impacted the engagement. I had a couple of relationships which tilted towards my phrase :) "nearer the better" So, how does the proximity factor affect a mentee? Well, its just the fact that your mentor is "somewhere around close by" and is "available" probably that comforts the mentee. Being in the same location as the mentee has proved advantageous in deepening the bond in a short period of time. The comfort factor is certianly higher in a mentor-mentee who are in the same vicinity in the workplace. More Thoughts, more Learning ,more Sharing, more Caring and more Achieving - the CLASS values of MindTree... what i also realised today is that creating comfort for the mentee at an emotional level matters- creating magical " mentoring moments" These moments have to be genuine, complete and lucid. Creating an experience for the mentee is what makes the engagement great. and what better way to do that than "being there" for the mentee in the neighbourhood at work?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Two fold impact of Mentoring

Today, i wondered as to how mentoring can impact individuals and specifically employees. Primarily, this can happen at two macro levels:

1. At an intellectual level
2. At an emotional level

Considering that "the intellect is the power or faculty of the mind by which one knows or understands, as distinguished from that by which one feels and that by which one wills; the understanding; the faculty of thinking and acquiring knowledge" , mentoring can have a huge impact. In fact, mentoring is an intellectually empowering process. Mentoring enables the mentor and the mentee to reflect and refine their intellectual capability through the constant process of learning.

At an emotional level, mentoring helps us to separate "affect" from"effect" and helps us to separate feelings from thoughts.

In the organizational context, knowing and relating to the difference between "affect" and "effect" can truly create a mature class of employees who are emotionally empowered.

There could be several benefits for an organization to have intellectually and emotionally empowered employees. It can result in very effective interpersonal relationships among teams. It can move the organization to a level of intellectual competence which can be a distinguishing factor in the competitive world.

I know i can go on but wish to leave my thoughts here until my next blog...

Monday, September 1, 2008


Smiling, wise eyes, whisper softly, sincerely,"I believe in you!"The nurturing journey continues... - Robert Cox

How better could i describe mentoring? Seek, Learn, Reflect and Respond - the 360 of Mentoring!