Ideas for Leadership & Mentoring Program(9 Posts)
I am developing leadership program for women at my company (which is male dominated) to promote promising young talent and help mentor them to success. I put the idea to the board and have their support - I now need to execute.
So my question to you:
1. What would (or would have in the past) help you to succeed?
2. What would you like to see included in a program like this?
3. Have you experienced anything like this that was helpful to you and if so,what specifically ?
Any other thoughts are very welcome
The university that I did my PhD at offered a Action Learning Group. It was really helpful for me, and I gained a lot from it that I can still use. We met once a month; I didn't know the women in my group aside from the group and it offered practical advice, non-judgemental listening and a calm and safe space to offload and be understood by women in the same position (all PhD students).
We now have female networking events; a lot focused on working mothers (e.g. Athena Swann award for departments making an effort to make working lives easier for working parents). I am fortunate that my two PhD supervisors were both highly successful women with families, so I have used them as mentors in my career too. Otherwise, having volunteer mentors identified would be really helpful.
You need to look at systemic/organisational barriers to women getting on in your company, or you will just be investing in women for them to go elsewhere.
But, in terms of investment definitely a mentoring programme- with the most senior people you can get. Probably something on impact (women are often accused of lacking "gravitas") and presentation skills (because giving a good presentation is disproportionately important for reputation and career).
Cal and Hermonie - thank you - great points
I hadn't even thought about the systemic barriers - doh!
Are you considering the sort of mentoring where you have person X assigned to person Y, and they catch up every week/month/whatever and it's a long-term relationship, or shorter term mentoring, where person X is assigned to person Y for mentoring in a particular area, then person Z to improve their skills in another area or expertise?
Another thing they keep talking about with us is the difference between mentors and sponsors. Here's an article about the difference, which they summarise as, "mentors advise; sponsors act."
Great idea - well done.
I think topics could be:
- job focused, so how to make an impact, take credit when due and learn from mistakes.
- profile raising - so internally the nuances of what meetings/people/project matter, which a junior might not yet understand.
How to foster relationships.
Externally how and where to network. The value of developing an external profile and as young women they might have a 'token' factor which could help them get onto speaking platforms - use that.
- conduct. This is linked to the barrier point. I was recently privy to some internal notes at a 'old boys network' type of club. They were discussing some applicants for a commitee. It was notable that the things that the women (as 2 out of 6 were) were marked negatively could be viewed as typically female eg talking too much, not talking with enough conviction.
Whilst in an ideal world we would all be ourselves, I do think if the room is full of men it could be helpful to 'self edit' in order to get them onside. Once onside you can then try to change the system IYSWIM.
That could be conduct in meetings (I have been guilty of opening my note pad before the meeting starts and twice mistaken for the junior minute taker because of this. I noted that all the men kept their books shut until they needed to write a note). But also general behaviour in certains situations.
I also wonder if the mentors could faciliate the mentees shadowing them/attending senior meetings to help them understand what they are reaching for.
As mentioned though a key to the success of the project will be understanding why there aren't more women at the top and what can be changed in order for this to happen? I would ask the senior amd junior staff why they think it is....
Finally, take notes of the process. If this is a success this will make a great case study for speaker platforms for you (assuming the co is up for sharing).
Gosh you are all fabulous - such great ideas - clearly I have a lot of research and thinking and planning to do
I've been on a couple of talent schemes at my large government department. I find the opportunity to move roles to areas I need to build experience in (rather than the ones I'm already good at) invaluable. Plus networking. Do you have a formal process in mind for identifying talented staff?
Have a look at the Crossing Thresholds programme (for women aspiring to the Senior Civil Service) - they have an interesting website that may give you some ideas.
Depending on resources, you might offer:
-Start as Hermione says, by identifying the overarching cultural/systemic barriers
-Some kind of initial assessment - perhaps taking expressions of interest sponsored by managers/dept heads to identify those with ambition and potential
-A diagnostic session - maybe a combination of a 360 and a semi-structured interview to identify development needs?
-Mentoring (the long term type with as senior a mentor as possible)
-Coaching focused on specific development needs
-Action learning sets
-Look at packaging up and offering some of your usual L&D offer to the specific cohort. This could be face-to-face courses, e-learning, self study.
Good luck - I will be watching this thread with interest. I find this kind of discussion fascinating - by the power of mumsnet we're able to tap instantly into the collective knowledge of some pretty well-informed, experienced people (by the looks of other posts on this thread). I'd love to make the transition to rl networking with such a knowledgable and interesting bunch.
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