Knowledge is Power

Teaching people about 401(k)s has taught me many things, but above all it has taught me that education/training at work has to change!

For decades now onsite training has drifted into a check box or a CYA, pardon my acronymial language.  We have shifted from being concerned about outcomes and are now more concerned about staying in compliance.  Here are some interesting tips on how to engage your employees and deliver more impactful training.

How to Make Mandatory Trainings Bearable Infographic

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Oh cool you have Camry?…I have a Lamborghini!

shutterstock_124609282.jpgQuestion for the audience. When did we become a society of constant one-uppery? Now it is certainly subtler than the title suggests but let’s look at a hypothetical. It goes something like this:

“Hey guess what, I had my performance evaluation and I got great feedback from my manager.”

“Yeah, those are such a waste of time. I get good remarks every time but I’m not sure they even really look at your performance.”

We have all had these and they can go a thousand different ways,. You excitedly tell friends that you got a new car and hear, “Oh me, too” or “Mine is a 2016”.   Maybe you share that you took your kids to Disney this summer only to quickly get back, “Oh that’s nice we took our family to Italy.” These one-up comments are demoralizing, infuriating, and for the most part unintentional!

I don’t think anyone starts a conversation with you looking for ways to one up you or to shut you down, but they do so out of 2 very human characteristics. 1) Our desire to hear and tell stories, and 2) personal insecurity. Self-admittedly I am terrible about this. You can ask most of the people that know me well and I have a story for just about anything and I have a really bad tendency to hear your story and then immediately want to tell you my story. If you fall into this category, STOP!!! This act, however innocent, destroys connection.

Most people will be gracious in the beginning but if this is a habit for you, it will not be long until the people around you start resenting the fact that you are stealing their thunder.

shutterstock_311648258I think this topic, which I classify as a connection issue, can be resolved by practicing intentional or active listening and becoming aware that you’re doing it in the first place. Intentional listening is an art form and one that you can practice and have to practice to master. My colleague James told me one time, “God gave me 2 ears and 1 mouth, and only one of those closes.” There is a lot of wisdom in that statement but let’s unpack the underlying meaning of what means to be an active listener the Caleb Bagwell way. *Warning, I neither confirm nor claim these are the best techniques for active listening. I just know they work for me.

  1. Stop preparing your rebuttal: I think it’s like this, when someone is talking, especially in a business situation or when meeting someone new – you are so concerned about making a good impression or sounding smart that you start preparing your response in your head after you hear the other person’s first sentence. I believe that we also have the unnecessary fear of awkward silence.   Would it be ridiculous to listen to the full statement and then take 3 seconds to formulate your response? NO. It makes sense.   Active listening means that you need to stop thinking ahead and immerse yourself in what the other party is saying. Focus and be patient.
  2. Ask questions: When someone is sharing news with you or engaging in a conversation, make a conscious effort to ask questions. This will automatically stop you from injecting your stories into their moment. It also helps you dig deeper and makes your speaker feel that you are really engaged in their story.
  3. Give them their time: Not all conversations fall into this category but when you have a coworker, friend, spouse or employee that comes to you with exciting news or a good story, say to yourself, “Not my time.” I literally have to do this to remind myself that regardless of how good my story is or even how similar, I need to let them have their time. You can tell them your story later or wait till they ask you about yours but giving people the attention they deserve without making it about you is important. It builds rapport and respect.

There are many more tricks to active listening, in fact there are entire books written about it. Another quick trick is counting how many time you say, “I” in a conversation. This one made me feel bad when I tried it, I will be honest. The point to all of it is that in a world where everyone is becoming more self-absorbed than ever, it is necessary to make sure that we caring enough about the people around us to listen intently, give them their deserved moments, and try connecting deeper with people by listening and not one upping!

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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What’s the point in winning?

shutterstock_122081617I am competitive.  There I said it and I’d like to enter that confession in the running for “Understatement of the Year”.  Recently, I have been analyzing that truth.  I have always said that I was competitive with a certain amount of pride as if it were an attribute to be sought after, but is it really?  In Hebrews 12:1 Paul says, “…Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” For most of my life I have read that verse and only focused on the word “race”.  If this life is a race, then there will clearly be a winner and then everyone else loses, right?  But what if that was not the keyword; what if the key to the statement was something else entirely.  Nowhere in Paul’s verse does he say, win the race that is marked out for us.  Friends, this where we are going to talk about the Holy 2×4.  In my life, from time to time, God decides to hit me with the Holy 2×4 to wake me up to something He has been trying to teach me that I just missed, sometimes for decades.

So why is winning so important; is competition healthy in the workplace; and how then do we balance the competition, with the pursuit of excellence, with the character of a Saint?  In reality,  I think that is what the verse is really saying.  After meditating on it for a while, I concluded the key takeaway is that you, whoever you are, are in a race; that means it has a beginning, and whether you like it or not, it has an end and our God is more concerned with how you run it than if come in first or last or in the middle. He just wants you to run to best of your “given” ability while loving thy neighbor and working as if you were working for Him.  So in the office or the warehouse or the production floor, how do we harness the competitive nature of so many of our employee and direct it, in a health way, into productivity?   Let’s take a look at a few principals that we believe will make a difference.

Principle 1: Create the Competition

I walked through a manufacturing company the other day as I was preparing to give a shutterstock_181242095presentation on the company’s 401(k).  I saw pictures on a big bulletin board for “Outstanding Employees”.  Displayed here were accolades for their “Employee of the Month”, an award for the employee who caught a mistake in shipping, another award for an employee that refined a process and made it more efficient.  Another company that we work with also highlights an accomplished employee every month and then chooses an “Employee of the Year” who gets a trip to Disney World! These companies created the competition to strategically benefit the employees and the company. This is a brilliant way to motivate and harness the competitive drive in your employees, BUT there are a couple of things that are must-haves in this principle.

  • The rules must clear and definitive: the employees must understand how you win and the variable must be trackable. If this area is vague, you risk your employees accusing the company of playing favorites.   Remember this isn’t a popularity contest.  The winner shouldn’t be the person you like the best but instead, the person who meets the quantifiable goals you set forth at the beginning of the competition.
  • Incentives must be appropriate for the effort required. If you want employees to refine a process that will ultimately save the company thousands of dollars per day and you give them a keychain and pat on the back as a reward, you should expect their effort in finding that solution to be worth about as much as your keychain.  I’m not saying buy them a new car, but know your workforce and choose an incentive that will be meaningful and big enough for them to want to compete.shutterstock_129517958

Principle 2: Build Team Competition

I know this one will not work with every company, but when possible organize all of the teams within your company to compete together. Collaboration is big desire for your millennials, but I think all ages enjoy a good strategy session on how to overcome the competition. Note: When you do this you should be very observant.  In this process you will watch your leaders emerge.  Watch how some people have the ability to align interest and influence their team to moving as one unit.  This can be very helpful in raising up management.

Principle 3: Adopt a Zero Tolerance Policy for Unsportsmanship

I don’t watch a ton of sports but I was at a minor league baseball game in Birmingham recently and one of our home team players was ejected because he took off his helmet and slammed it on the ground.  I questioned the decision and someone I was with informed me that the rule was “no tolerance because the act was dangerous and trashy”.  If you are going to harness healthy competition, the standard of excellence and sportsmanship can never be in question.  If you cheat, you’re done.  If you lie, you’re done.  If you sabotage someone, you’re done. Zero tolerance and swift consequences are necessary, but so are swift praise and good rewards.

Competition can be a great driver but the truth is you, your team, and your company have to know why it’s worth winning. The principles above are important for the process but don’t forget to show employees why you’re competing in the first place.  What difference are you trying to make in the company or even in the community? You have to show people that the race is worth running and then you can guide them through competition to make a difference.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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Millennials in Manufacturing

Attracting Millennials is probably the easy part of this equation, after all we are all looking a job, or at least our parents hope we are. Finding the ones with the talent you need, that will stick around and then engaging them to point of productivity is what takes a bit of finesse. Millennials are the largest and most misunderstood generation and we have seen first-hand the challenges that can arise when trying to connect with this new breed. Focusing on manufacturing, industrial, and construction related businesses, we have seen the challenges that these companies face when it comes getting good talent and keeping it, especially when it comes to the newer generation.   We have identified 12 steps that will help your company get on the right path when it comes to getting the most out of your Millennials.

millman.jpg

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Is Passion Enough?

shutterstock_214581778I think the appropriate follow-up question is, “For what?…Is passion enough for what…?” Guys I have to be honest with you, I struggled with this one a lot. The way I asked the question to myself was, “Is passion enough to change the world?” After internally wrestling this ideal for a long while, I am convinced the answer is undoubtedly NO. Passion alone is not enough for me to change the world.

That bothers me, it literally offended me at first because I’m an idealist. (I’m not sure that acknowledging that you are an idealist makes it better but I feel better about it so there.) I wanted desperately for the answer to my passion question to be yes. I wanted to be able to stand in front of a crowd and look them in the eyes and say, “ALL YOU NEED IS PASSION!!!” I could say that, heck I could probably write a book about it and sell a million copies if I got the right agent and hyped it up enough but it wouldn’t stick. The truth is passion is nothing more than an emotional catalyst. DO NOT misunderstand, if you intend to build something successful, something substantial and something with impactful, passion is 100% necessary but it not enough.

Guys hear me here, my heart literally hurts writing this because I meet people all the time that have the passion to change their lives, to change their career, to change their community. It breaks me to know their passion alone won’t get them there. It takes other character traits and while the recipe is not simple, I want to cover 4 that I think can turn your passion into change.

Tenacity, Courage, Discipline and Community

Tenacity: You see by definition tenacious means, “not easily stopped”. I think this is pretty clear. Impacting your world, by changing your health, changing your career, changing your community will never be easy. No impact worth making will ever be easy. You have to have tenacity, you have to be able to get hit again and again and again and keep going. You will receive setbacks from those close to you and from total strangers but you have to build rhino-thick skin! Andy Mineo, a Christian rapper has a song called, “You Can’t Stop Me” and I think it embodies the reaction you must develop to doubt and hurdles. You put a bolder in my path and I will not turn around; I will find a way to move it! James in my office mentioned the other day that no success story that you read today ever has a chapter about how they didn’t face any obstacles. PASSION + TENACITY

Courage: This may be a sub characteristic of tenacity but in order for your passion to become change you will have to have been courageous. One of my favorite quotes is, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to continue in the presence of fear.” When it comes to a journey of following your passion, it will be scary. It may require you to quit your job, or even totally change the way you live. It will undoubtedly cause you to have to “rock the boat”, but true courage requires you to harness your fear and keep going despite it. Embracing fear can save your life. Think about the gazelle running from a lion. Fear is the difference between the gazelle and the lion. The lion is running for lunch the gazelle is running for its life. Chasing passion is like that. You may very well have an entire world working against you and without courage your passion will become something’s lunch.   PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE

Discipline: I thought about calling this section consistency or having a plan but I think discipline can include both of those. Rarely ever will impact come overnight, and since deep passion is extremely volatile, we should be aware that even the most passionate of people can vary in their degree of passion at different moments. This is where discipline comes in. You must have the discipline to keep following the plan, following the process, and approaching each day as if it matters. Discipline is what guides and drives your tenacity and courage into the direction your passion wants it to go. PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE + DISCIPLINE

Community: You could also call this help or accountability. You will not start your passion journey with a community, most likely the first few chapters that your write will be solo, but as you go you will need to figure out how to build your community of support. This is totally dependent on your ability to communicate clearly the vision you have painted in your head to others. I do this terribly, a lot! I have had hours upon hours of thinking of my passion and the plan I have to succeed, then someone asks me about it and I word vomit for 3-5 minutes and they look at me like I have 3 eyes. John Maxwell says that, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” Visioneering and influence will allow you to build your community to make your passion a reality. You have to have a clear vision and the ability to influence people along your path to join your cause and help you along the way. For more on this section read my post. from a few weeks ago: If you get me there, I will change the world . PASSION + TENACITY + COURAGE + DISCIPLINE + COMMUNITY = UNLIMITED POSSIBILTY

Becoming a person that leaves an impact in the world is certainly reserved for the passionate, but the success stories you hear have much more depth than what we see on the outside. My dream is to help people see their potential and chase their passion. Imagine with me what a world full of passionate, tenacious, courageous, and disciplined, accountable visioneers. The possibilities are endless.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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Leadership Vocabulary

Increase productivity and employee engagement TODAY by integrating these phrases into your daily vocabulary.   Leaders have to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk“.  Make sure you are talking the right talk.

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

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The 4 Generations of Employees Who Work for You

The 4 Generations of Employees Who

Work for You
and How to Communicate with Them

4 gen

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
Birmingham: 1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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Can we fix it? Millennials in the construction industry

shutterstock_150120215The millennial generation gets a lot of press these days, and rightly so. For the first time, Millennials (individuals born between 1980 and 2000) will surpass the baby boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation. This is a significant shift for companies that now have to figure out how to most effectively attract, retain and develop these younger workers – not all of whom are following their parents’ examples when it comes to job selection, company loyalty and career paths.

The construction industry faces particularly high hurdles when it comes to attracting and retaining new employees, given the drastic ebbs and flows the industry has suffered for decades. According to our latest Talent Development Report, 86% of respondents reported that their company was experiencing skilled labor shortages. Just two years ago, only 53% of respondents were dealing with this challenge.

shutterstock_153208307To understand what young workers in construction are looking for in an employer, we examined a broad industry survey that included responses from more than 200 millennials (see “Millennials in Construction: Learning to Engage a New Workforce” for more details). The following five key findings highlight what it takes to engage this young generation of workers:

Opportunity. Our research confirms that if employees feel they’re making progress and advancing in their careers, they’ll be more likely to remain with their companies long term. This is particularly relevant for companies in the construction industry, where many firms still don’t have well-defined career tracks or comprehensive talent development and leadership programs in place. With young, ambitious Millennials needing to learn, improve and advance quickly through an organization, employers must develop better solutions and challenge the old ways of “how things used to be done” – starting with the ways people interact and collaborate with one another.

Commitment from the Top. Research shows that employees who perceive senior managements’ commitment to their well-being stay engaged and plan to remain with their companies long term, compared to those who don’t feel appreciated or valued. As one millennial survey participant stated, “Being noticed for the hard work you are doing is a big deal in the construction industry. When executives tell you they appreciate your hard work, it really goes a long way in the industry.”

Much like their predecessors, Millennials are interested in job security and stability. And despite popular belief, they aren’t poised to switch jobs as soon as another opportunity presents itself. That said, these younger workers come from a “connected” generation that truly values collaboration, teamwork and social opportunities. Our study also indicates that Millennials value the use of new and innovative technologies to solve client and corporate challenges. Letting young people contribute and participate in such meaningful ways, and taking genuine interest in their careers and personal lives, are key to engaging them long term.

Challenge. Like other generations before them, Millennials want to be challenged with interesting and meaningful work. As one millennial survey participant put it: “When trying to engage Millennials, it is important to emphasize the appealing aspects of the industry. In construction, projects are always different. Showing Millennials the challenges each project offers gives them a sense of purpose and greater determination. The constantly changing work environment offers a more exciting route compared with the monotony of replicated day-to-day activities.”

Not unlike other generations that enter the workplace, Millennials have new perspectives to share, innovative ideas about getting things done and interesting ways of tackling problems. They are less willing to accept the “old school” methods of completing work, and they are always searching for new ways to streamline processes and increase efficiencies. This mindset is critical to pushing the industry forward. Failing to nurture the innovative and inquisitive nature of younger workers will create disengagement among employees and result in a less productive workforce over time.

Clear Company Vision. Cultures focused on employee engagement require a defined and well-communicated company vision. This point is especially important for young people who are kicking off their careers. By explaining the whole picture, company leaders can connect the meaning to their employees. This, in turn, gives workers a clear sense of purpose and an understanding of how their efforts fit within the larger plan. According to our research, when the company’s vision is inspiring and clearly communicated, Millennials are 25% more likely to stay longer with the company compared to those who don’t understand the company’s vision and direction.

Good Pay. For years, thought leaders have been talking about how Millennials are just out for a purpose crusade and how they are more interested in meaning than money. Our research paints a much different picture. When asked what’s most important to them, Millennials rank competitive pay as their highest concern. Haydn Shaw, a renowned generational expert, confirmed this finding and says, “The vast majority of surveys show that Millennials rank base pay as the most important factor in selecting and staying in a job, just as the other three generations do. They want meaningful work and a supportive culture to work in, but they want a well-paying job and career advancement more.”

Sources:

Haydn Shaw. Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart. July 22, 2013.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-research-top-5-things-millennial-employees-want-from-hoover

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

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25 Interesting Facts About Millennials

Jamie Kertis – our advisor that oversees retirement plan design – wrote a great article last week about Millennials.  Her blog has some fascinating content for human resource professionals, accountants, high-level executives and those who work on retirement plan committees in their company.

I would love to hear from you.   How do you think these factors affect our workforce?

1abThere were 53.5 million Millennials employed in the United States as of May 2015, and by 2025, this generation will comprise almost 75% of the US workforce. Think about that, in less than 10 years 3 out of 4 people who are working in America will be have born between 1980 and 2001.      How much do you know about this upward rising generation other than their stereotype? Yes, they are adults who still like to play video games.   Yes, they have no idea what a typewriter was used for.   And, yes they are technology-dependent, eco-friendly, hipsters who like music that no other generation can possibly tolerate; but there’s more.

Here are 25 things to think about as you recruit, hire and retain Millennial employees:

  1. Pay ranks first among job factors that matter most to this cohort. Meaningful work is second, positive relationships with co-workers third and flexibility fourth.
  2. 82% of Millennials did not negotiate their salary, either because they were uncomfortable doing so or didn’t realize it was an option.
  3. 37% of Millennials left their first full-time job within two years.
  4. 26% said a better salary would have kept them around longer; 17% would have stayed with a clearer sense of how to advance in the organization.
  5. 63% know someone who had to move back home because of the economy.
  6. Millennials list Google, Apple, Facebook, the US State Department and Disney as their top ideal employers.
  7. 94% enjoy doing work that benefits a cause.
  8. 63% want their employer to contribute to a social cause.
  9. 77% would prefer to do community work with other employees, rather than on their own.
  10. 57% want their organization to provide companywide service days.
  11. 47% had volunteered on their own in the past month.
  12. 75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values.
  13. $45,000 is the average amount of debt carried by Millennials.
  14. More than 63% of Millennial workers have a bachelor’s degree, but 48% of employed college grads have jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
  15. 70% have “friended” their colleagues or supervisors on Facebook.
  16. $24,000 is the average cost of replacing a Millennial employee.
  17. 15% of Millennials are already managers.
  18. 56% wouldn’t work for an organization that blocks social media access.
  19. 69% believe it’s unnecessary to work from the office regularly.
  20. 41% have no landline phone access and rely solely on their mobile phone.
  21. 65% of Millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.
  22. 29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers
  23. 54% want to start a business or already have done so.
  24. 35% have started a side business to augment their income.
  25. 80% of Millennials said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews, and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job.

1a.jpgThere is a lot of interesting facts here. I think we could use them in all sorts of contexts; think about it all specifically in terms of hiring employees and even more important for retaining them. Employee turnover costs skyrocketing. According to the Center for America Progress, the replacement cost of an employee who earns $30,000 to $50,000 a year is 20% of annual salary for those mid-range positions. So the cost to replace a $40k employee would be $8,000. For higher level employees, the replacement costs skyrockets to 150-200%.   For a $100,000 employee, the cost just to replace him/her can be easily $150,000.

The influence of a strong company culture is a huge factor that results can equate to what Gen Xers and Baby Boomers look at as loyalty.   Millennials can be long-term, engaged employees, but not at 1970, 1990 or even 2010 standards.   It is time to make some changes.   It will cost you too much not to.

Sources:

  • Society for Human Resource Management, The Brookings Institution, Dan Schawbel

 

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog

Finding and being a mentor

mentorA mentor is kind of a weird thing for a leader to seek out, don’t you think? Most leaders are so focused on looking like they are in control that the thought of someone mentoring them is almost offensive. “I don’t need a mentor, I am the mentor”, “What would my team think about me if they thought I needed a mentor?” Both of these are common for leaders to say or think and both are not entirely bad thoughts, but I think they generally come with a negative mindset that should be reversed. I was told a long time ago that I should always have a mentor and I should always be a mentor, so to the comment “I am the mentor” you are right, as a leader you should most definitely be a mentor to your team, but that does not mean that you wouldn’t benefit from having someone to speak truth into your life. “What would my team think?” Hmmmm….maybe that you are human, you are always looking for ways to better yourself, that you are humble.   That wouldn’t be so bad would it?

The purpose of having a mentor is to help you grow and mentors come in all shapes and sizes. My father is a mentor, my bosses are mentors, my co-workers are mentors, and some of my friends and family are mentors. I am mostly likely the only one in those relationships that view it as formal but you better believe that I treat their advice and wisdom as gold. Imagine a mentor as someone who is watching a horror movie. From outside the situation, they may be able to see what’s happening in other rooms, piece things together that give clear pictures of what about to happen next, and they may be able to yell at you to not open that door because the killer is in that room. Ever the heard the expression, “I couldn’t see the forest, for the trees”?   Well, mentors are there to help you see the forest.   I take notes, I call with strategic questions, I seek objective, non-biased feedback on any situation that I think carries risk and above all, I LISTEN! In almost every situation mentees will have opinions formulated about the topic they need to discuss, and in doing that they are coming in loaded. Trying hardest to seek advice without projecting and desiring totally honest feedback, even if it is not what you want to hear, is the best way to approach your mentor.   It is the only way that really pays off.

WARNING: Not all people are good mentors! (There I said it.) The art of “projecting” goes both ways and you may run into “mentors” whose advice is coming solely from their opinion or personal experience and it may not be the right solutions for you. Do not confuse their passion for a certain situation for factual advice. You have to use your brain in this as well. Now if you have multiple people telling you the same things, you need to listen.

So what should you look for in a good mentor?

  1. Look for someone who has been where you want to go: Wisdom = Knowledge + Experience if you can find someone that has already achieved many of the goals that you have set for yourself and they are willing to share their experiences with you, you have a heavyweight contender for your mentor! Seriously think about it. My dad always taught me, “A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Can you imagine the wisdom you can gain from talking to someone that has driven the road necessary to reach your goals and they are willing to warn you where the pot holes are?
  2. Look for someone that will be honest: My mom and I joke about the TV Show, “The Goldbergs”. It’s about this family in the 80s and the mom is always accused of having “Mom Goggles” on. Basically it means that in this mom’s eyes, her kids can do no wrong. In one episode the son wants to be a singer and the mom is nothing but encouraging; but the truth was that he stunk at singing. My mom and I have this relationship, I could call home and say, “Mom I’m going to buy a Subway Franchise on the moon” and she would say, “Aw sweetie that is so great, I’m so proud of you!” Mom I love you! The point here is that kind of encouragement is not always helpful. IN that same lunar Subway situation, a good would mentor would say, “Interesting Caleb, can I ask a few questions about that, like how do your customers get to the moon?” Side note: My mother is brilliant and when her “mom goggles” are not on, she is a great mentor to me.   She is an amazing school teacher and guidance counselor and for 30+ years, she has change the lives of hundreds of people!
  3. Look for someone with your common core beliefs: I think this is very important, while I think you should always be humble enough to accept advice from anyone willing to give it; you should carefully consider their advice before you use it. The biggest consideration in my opinion is, “Does this person share my convictions and beliefs?” I had the opportunity to meet with a young man trying to make his way into the real estate world. He sought the advice of an older more experienced developer as a “mentor”. It was not long until he realized that their views on the appropriate way to do business were very different. The young man definitely wanted to make money but not at the expense of anyone else, and his so called mentor felt that each person was responsible for taking care of themselves and so if someone else let him take advantage of them then it was their own fault. Needless to say that relationship did not last long.

The mentor/mentee relationship can be a very powerful tool. Imagine if that is the way your department worked. Every new hire, every mid-level manager, every supervisor was being mentored and mentoring for someone else in the office. Zig Ziglar said it best, “The best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” To the wise, how can you help someone without as much wisdom? To the inexperienced, how can you humbly ask someone to share their wisdom? Answering those questions my change your life.

calebCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242
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