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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The Costs of Employee Turnover

turnoverYou have heard time and time again how much it costs to replace good employees. I would argue it costs more to replace bad employees that you shouldn’t have hired in the first place, but that’s a different post. The truth is that there is nothing more exciting that having all the right people on the bus sitting in the right seats, and conversely there is nothing more demoralizing than losing a member of a team and having to replace them. Not only do you lose momentum but you lose money too! It actually costs you money to replace employees.

Dr. Kim Ruyle, hosted a webcast on this subject for members of SHRM a national society of Human Resource professionals. In his presentation, he explained that while costs may vary in replacing an employee. To calculate the true costs, you must consider the following variables:

Costs to off-board current employee
+
Costs-per-hire for replacement
+
Transition costs, including opportunity costs, training, loss revenue until full performance is reached
+
Costs from long-term disruption of talent pipeline

To be less scientific about it, the estimate to replace an average employee is 6-9 months’ salary in recruiting and training alone. So picture this, you hire a manager at $50,000 per year, if you fail to engage, grow, and connect with that manager, it will cost you $37,500 to replace them plus the salary of the new hire and loss of income from the turnover.

Are you starting to see the tangible value of developing your culture and your personnel? This cost is exponentially higher when we are talking about losing key employee or position that require special skills. Paige Robinson, Founder and CEO of Will Reed Jobs says, “Replacing talent is expensive and extremely disruptive. Companies are faced with the costs of talent acquisition, as well as, the loss of momentum on key projects. There is rarely a good time for a company to lose key personnel.”

So what can you do to keep good employees? I think there are 3 fundamentals that cause employees to want to stay. These are assuming you have the basic standards met. Example: You have to be competitive in benefits. You cannot create a culture of loyalty and lasting relationships if your people are being under-provided for based on the market value of their skill or talent. Assuming that the compensation package you offer is in line with your employees’’ skills, there are other ways to make your employees want to “stay put”.

  1. Stop assuming they are going to leave you. I see this a lot, where an employer acts off what they assume to be true. “Well, these millennials change jobs almost every 18 months so I should not invest too heavily in them because then I’ll be training my competition.” Listen, I’m sorry you’ve been burned before. This mentality generally comes honest to a boss that invested heavily in someone that burned them, but this thought process is a self-fulfilling prophecy.   When you assume employees are going to leave you, then don’t invest in their long-term success, the employees feel that you aren’t investing in their future with your company, so they leave to find someone who will put faith in them. If you are start giving people the benefit of the doubt, you will for sure get burned, but you will also find and the cream of the crop this way.
  2. Set a path. It doesn’t matter how small or large your company is, employees need to be able to see where they can go. I know the corporate ladder analogy comes with a negative connotation but it has positives too. Employees, especially Millennials, are competitive with themselves and extremely goal-oriented. Show them from the beginning what growth within your company looks like. Show them that with hard work, experience, and time they can get from point A to B then to C, D, E, and F. They need to feel like they always have a chance to achieve something better. For goodness sakes please don’t say things like, “Well you gotta earn your keep before you can advance in this company!” No one is asking for a handout or to skip in line, the next generation employees just want to know if they perform that will you honor your word and allow them to climb the ladder? The great thing about this new generation is that they actually work harder longer if they have something to work toward.   Dangle the carrot.
  3. Show their vision and impact. I told a story of a deckhand that shoveled coal into the engine of steam boat at a leadership summit we held in Mobile, AL earlier this year. The jest of the story is that his job boring, hot and overall pretty terrible, but at the end of the trip the captain calls him up to the bridge and looking out at the dock said this, “Look what you’ve done. Because you were willing to shovel all that coal we made it here safely, and all these families have been reunited. All that cargo for all those businesses made it here and created even more jobs in the community. None of this would have been possible if you weren’t willing and able to shovel that coal.” How do you think that employee felt then? Energized? Appreciated? Loyal? You bet your BB  Q sandwich he did and the same is true for your company. Your employees that aren’t on the front line need to see the impact and the long-term vision they are sweating for. Show them what the company they work for stands for and promise them that if they stay they will be part of the change you are determined to make.

Some companies spend time and resources on planning to replace employees that leave. What if instead that time and budget was spent to create bonds with the current workforce so they don’t want to leave. Starting acting like employees will stay long-term and stop treating them like temporary desk occupants, give them a path to success and a picture of what their future can be, and show how the company vision makes an impact coupled with your sincere appreciation for their hard work. Not only will your company culture improve but these warm fuzzies will reduce your turnover and actually save you money.

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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The $60 Office

coffeeTo clarify if you don’t know me already, I am a millennial but I am not a minimalist. Having said that, how much do you pay for your office space? If you are an employee, how much do you think your boss pays for your office space? Do you think $60.00 is a realistic cost for quality office space?

Chances are, the last 3 sentence have confirmed your conclusion that I’m completely mad, but hang with me. This post is not really about office space or rent so focus up! As I type, I am sipping on a rather excellent cup of espresso from Seeds Coffee in Homewood, AL. Total Price including Tax: $2.75. I have high speed internet, calming music, access to food, a very clean bathroom and enough caffeine to get an entire week’s worth of work done in a few hours. For today it is my office.   For only $3, I can sit here for the next 8 hours and as long as my computer battery lasts and can get most all of my work done. Now I know this scenario doesn’t work for everyone. Some of you would get distracted, others need more privacy than is provided at a coffee shop, and some of you have to print things constantly. That’s fine. This article is more about the heart of this story than it is encouraging you to work out of a coffee shop.

Have you ever heard of “analysis paralysis”? To all my engineers and fact-finders out there, this happens to you frequently. Analysis paralysis is what happens when you get so caught up in getting all the details put together that you never actually start working on the project. You go into data gathering mode and 12 months later you know everything there is to know about the project but you have done little to nothing to complete the project. I think this happens a lot with our work.

We get in this rut where we convince ourselves that if we are not at the “office”, then we cannot get our work done. I catch some grief from my wife and my friends sometimes because I am rarely in the office for 8 hours on any day, but that’s not the only place I can get my work done. Emails from the coach at 5:45AM as I get settled in for my study of God’s Word, phone calls from the car on the way to office or a meeting, or late night preparation for a meeting the next day. I get lots of work done in varying settings because I choose to be flexible. Now wait, I hear you guys responding to me already, “Caleb why don’t you come tell my boss that she needs to let us all be so flexible!!” Well, I am working on that, but until I make it to all your companies, work on applying this principle to the other areas of your life. I can remember struggling with this scenario with a book I wanted to study. I had this great set up, note pad, lamp, highlighters, multicolored pens, the works! Only problem, I found it extremely hard to get to that place and actually sit still, so I never actually read the book! Ridiculous, huh? I finally realized that I had to be more flexible and be willing to carry the book with me just in case I found 10-15 minutes I could read a few pages.  Once, I changed strategy, the book got read. It took a while but the point is that it did get done.

The point is this, we get stuck a lot. We say, “There is no way I can finish the whole project today”, so we don’t do anything at all. I started working on this with my running. I would wake up a few minutes late and say well I don’t have time to run the full 3 miles so I guess I won’t go at all. WHY? 1 mile is better than no miles so I start running the one mile. I stopped waiting for the hour to really sit down and read and started taking advantage of the 15 minutes slots that I could find.

If we are going to leave an impact on this world we have to stop waiting for perfect scenarios. You will probably never find the perfect time, the perfect environment, the perfect circumstance to_________ {fill in the blank for yourself}. What I realized is that all those 15 minute breaks in my schedule allowed me to read that entire book, that 1 mile runs added up to 30 miles this month, that my flexible work efforts helped me land a new client, or get a new accreditation. The world has spent billions of dollars on how to fill ideal hands. Your time here is limited at any given time you have between 0-20,000 days left on this planet, between 0 and 480,000.00 hours, between 0-28,800,00 minutes left. You can’t buy more, you can’t earn more, you can’t save some for later. So my goal for post is leave you with this sound in your head, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick… next time you find yourself putting off one of your goals for whatever excuse you generated that day, hear it, Tick, Tick, Tick and the tell yourself.

Do Something! Do Anything! Stop waiting for perfect and JUST GET BUSY DOING!

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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