Friday, March 13, 2009

“I don’t blog!” - Mentoring effectiveness


I’ve known Joe for years and have been virtually mentoring him for the last few years. Joe has a strong educational background in engineering, a master’s degree in business and great work experience. There were a couple of obvious topics we worked on together, and progress has been coming slow but sure.

It is now time to move on to new leadership topics to build strengths that do not yet exist. The one that became apparent was the understanding and use of web 2.0 technologies. When this was suggested, the immediate reaction from Joe was, “I don’t blog.” While blogging is one of many technology applications, it is but one. Unfortunately, the statement was used as a generality for most all web 2.0 uses. As a mentor, I need to determine how to overcome this mental block, create a positive experience, skip the topic or move on to the next mentee willing to accept new ideas.

Have you experienced this mentoring block? If so, which path did you take?

30 comments:

David said...

The path I choose is to point out that some create a diary, some create a journal, process people like to document, but I like to blog. I don't care if others are reading it because it is for me. It is tremendously useful to know what I was thinking at certain critical moments. When you come to a decision, what were the circumstances that caused you to choose one outcome over another? The usefulness of seeing how your thinking evolves should not be underestimated.

Anthony Reardon said...

"Hi John, here is how I might go about this. Why is Web 2.0 apparently worthwhile for Joe to learn? I would define this as a personal, professional, or organizational goal...or some combination with those distinctions thereof. Weblogging can be a useful marketing tool depending on what you have to offer and what is in demand. However, journaling is something recommended by a lot of mentors because it helps them serve their clients better. That should be sufficient as a starting point for overcoming this block. There is a value in understanding social networking technologies which can be related to both business and engineering. These are things I am touching on in my blogs on Area Light [www.arealight.ning.com|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2Earealight%2Ening%2Ecom/sto5?_t=tracking_disc] . My most recent work has been defining the use of blogs in my business model as ALPHA Interface Media with specified production lines to target market audiences. So just the other day I posted up something for Nascent Dynamics ( ) Productive Systems Engineering on [www.nascentdynamics.spaces.live.com|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2Enascentdynamics%2Espaces%2Elive%2Ecom/VkUA?_t=tracking_disc]. I'm also developing a technical methodology I'm coining as Holonic Social Networking and an information management practice I'm designing called Holonic Knowledge-Bases via Wiki app. For my clients, this is a fundamental area I think can be explored and implemented with substantial benefits. I might not focus on this with each client because my business lines are diverse enough not to require it. As I said, I think it would necessarily depend on their goals and preferences. Best, Anthony"

A voice in the wilderness said...

Unless or until you can show Joe the return on his time either in personal satisfcation (my reason for blogging) or income, your advising him to waste his time, and he knows it.

What value will mastering these skills give him. Remember he is spending time on this istead of something else.

Janet Jennewein said...

"Great topic! I too have clients I'm trying to lead toward Web 2.0 strategies... ironically, one is a software company! Web 2.0 done well succeeds. Web 2.0 done wrong fails. I used to report to an executive who said he didn't believe in direct mail, yet forwarded all his pertinent direct mail to me...He was very open-minded and reversed his attitude. Today I have a client that wants to do direct mail because he received an email blast from the direct mail company... I want HIM to do email blasts! I also have a client who fears his company will be victimized by people in India fraudulently clicking on his pay-per-click ads. Google does a job policing this. I put together a 4 1/2 minute video on basic online strategies. I posted it on my website on the "speaker" page: [www.JanetJennewein.com|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2EJanetJennewein%2Ecom/Lgo1?_t=tracking_disc]. If you would like a DVD copy, please contact me. Thanks."

Tracie Nystuen said...

"We all work and learn in different ways. What works for one does not work for another. Especially technology. Does this mean that every new piece of communication technology that we use as individuals we absolutely without a shadow of a doubt need to use? And the answer is no. There are other avenues of communication that one can be directed to. Does this mean that your mentee is unwilling to accept new ideas? Absolutely not. And I disagree with you with your statement “Unfortunately, the statement was used as a generality for most all web 2.0 uses. It is about creating balance in ones life and in the work environment. It is about you the mentor understanding what works for one employee does not work for another employee. Personally I am on the computer all day long. My job is about networks, applications etc… At this time I do not blog. Maybe down the road but not now."

Alex said...

"John, Great topic, thanks. Any discussion on blogging in a business context should necessarily first discuss improving an individual's career opportunities and experience. When I broach this subject with employees, especially those adverse to Web 2.0 in general, I "sell" it as an effective method for them to gain emminence in their field. The more they talk about their specialty and help others, the more credibility they build. The obvious goal of the company should be to focus what the employees are sharing online and making sure that several track backs to the company's website pages are included in the blog. This is a total win-win situation and in the long run the employees become important cornerstones of the business intelligence of the company. Isn't that EXACTLY what we're looking for anyway? Cheers, Alex Kersha [http://www.linkedin/in/alexkersha

Justin Mollak said...

John - I'm of the mind that 2.0 has jumped the shark. It's beyond narcissism, or what you had for lunch, it's the way things are now. 2.0, especially in younger generations, is already accepted as status quo. In other words, 2.0 isn't just about blogging. If your mentee is unwilling or unable to accept change (or in this case, changED), I would recommend moving on. Good luck.

Tom Hawes said...

"John, It is a difficult to tell from your description just where the block originates. Maybe the block is that Joe does not feel safe doing something as "radical" or different as he perceives blogging to be. It would not be unusual to reach some point where the last idea (before the blogging) is really the last idea that he will accept. I had one such experience where my next suggestion for a mentoree was to attend the Problem Solving Leadership offered by Jerry Weinberg. His response was that taking the class sounded like, in his words, "a week in hell". He wasn't ready or willing to take what I thought the next step to be. Which leads me to this. Could part of the block be with you? My experience is sometimes that I have reached my own roadblocks (i.e., my best ideas have already been offered, I've stop observing the one I want to help closely, I have a favorite idea that helped me that I want him/her to try, etc.) and have stopped being effective. It turns out that I need to become un-blocked before I can be of more service to the one that I think I am helping. Here are some thoughts for the latter case. 1. If you haven't already, tell Joe that you are stuck. Explain that web 2.0 (or whatever) seems really important and you are having trouble conveying that to Joe. Maybe Joe will offer why he responds the way he does to the topic? 2. Shift your focus for a time after you explicitly park the web 2.0 subject. For instance, maybe you could talk about the importance of personal branding. Joe may have ideas about other ways that he can establish his mark. Later you might return to web 2.0 to show him how those techniques could augment his approach. 3. Perhaps you could go to a meta level with Joe and ask him his opinion about the reasons people find it hard to adopt web 2.0 technologies. Let him be the expert and you might uncover some specific apprehensions. If that happens then you work on those unsafe areas to unblock Joe. 4. Connect Joe with someone else that has a better approach for this subject with Joe. It might be that Joe knows that you are very accomplished with web 2.0 techniques. This might be an inhibiting factor for him. Someone else may prove less intimidating? 5. If you haven't already, work through an example with Joe. Does he have a presentation or paper that could be used? Show him how some of the same material could be reused in a blog or some other media. 6. Finally, check your own motives. Is it okay if Joe no longer needs you? Is it okay if he reaches a point that is satisfactory to him but falls short of your hopes for him? Is it okay that Joe (rather than you) gets to decide the pace of his learning and growth? Your peace with these answers may allow you to see Joe differently while permitting you to think of different ways to move forward (or not). -- Tom

John N said...

John

I read your note on mentoring "I don't blog". As a former CEO and business executive and now business owner I can tell you that I have run into several high potential employees that at first try to block change or new tchnology that will improve their future career advancements. What has worked for me is showing the hi-pot why the change is needed and how it will set them apart from their peers, and sometimes they also need to be reminded that as a leader they will need to embrace change as a way of life as technology advaces change the business enviroment so rapidly and those how do not adapt wil be left behind. If the employee just will not change, even, adding "Blogging" to his skill set then move on. I suspect you are mentoring this individual because of some outstanding quality, if that is the case they will be able to see that it is not about blogging, but about flexability and adaptability in the face of a changing enviroment."Leaders that fear or reject change will fail" .

Good Luck

John

Deborah Nixon said...

"John: Kind of stumbled on this question. Here's my 2 cents. I don't know what Web 2.0 means or what Anthony explains. Way too technical for me. I am new to blogging, linkedin etc. Just been a few months. I love it!! How did I get into it? I started reading other blogs within my area and found fabulous info. I tried to blog about 3 yrs ago, didn't know what to write about, felt dumb and dropped it. then, I found the business focus and esp in my area. And I have gotten into all the social networking since then. I dont' know Joe's age or background. Sounds older given the comment. So likely he's intimidated. Doesn't understand the value and what's in it for him. Doesn't know why you want him to do this. So, can you give him a good reason because without it, he won't bother. Can't say I blame him. People can get overwhelmed with what is avail in the social networking world and it certainly is a time sucker. Does he do Llinkedin? That's a great start. But people need to be shown how LI can be of value. I have sat down with quite a few and shown them how to leverage LI. They are amazed. Most just don't know. Hope that helped. deborah"

Andrew Bryant said...

"Allow me to offer a couple of mentoring suggestions: 1. Have you asked? - "what's behind this belief of I don't blog?" Before you can overcome a block you must first identify the belief that prevents the action. Beliefs are mental constructs and as such can be deconstructed and replace with new empowering beliefs. Having said this, people can be tenacious in holding on to outdated and un-resourceful beliefs. 2. What would Joe need to believe about Web 2.0 that would cause him to take action? What does he highly value now that could achieve through the use of this technology? People don't want to do something because they don't see the value in it or cannot picture themselves doing it. Connecting a persons own values to a task is a foundation of influence - see [http://selfleadership.com/blog/topic/leadership/change-a-behaviour-coach-your-children-and-other-forms-of-influence

Allen Laudenslager said...

"Does Joe really have a block? Perhaps Joe has evaluated the potential (as he understands it) for this new technology to add value. I blog because I enjoy it. But it does not add value to my job search. If Joe doesn't see the value is that Joe's fault or is his teacher failing to properly demonstrate the new technique's utility? Web 2.0 has value but it is not correct for all people, industries or situations."

Robert Freimuth, Ph.D. said...

"Hi John, Effectiveness is in the eyes of the beholder. Some of the happiest and most well-adjusted people on the planet don't blog. Instead, they spend time with their families, exercise, volunteer in their community, and perform many other valuable activities. On the other hand, there are bloggers who spend time doing nothing else and are unhappy and life for them is limited to a cyber world of strangers. If being averse to blogging, or Web 2.0, is yet another example of not wanting to embrace new technology in a field where it might keep your mentee relevant, that is another story. As General Eric Shineski, current head of Veterans Affairs once said, "If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less." Much is being made of the current unemployment situation, especially here in my home state of Michigan. Anyone venturing into the market should know that experience counts but being relevant is important as well. You mentee should understand that if he ever finds himself in the job market, there are a bunch of high-energy thirty-somethings out there ready to compete against."

Amelia Young, CFA said...

"I would suggest having Joe read Groundswell by Forrester analysts Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. It demystified the world of Web 2.0 for me, providing a primer on the primary technologies and then showing how they can be used through a series of compelling case studies. I liked this book so much I sent it to all of my clients as a holiday gift. Joe may also want to read my review of the book that was recently published in a major Canadian business paper. [http://www.financialpost.com/mba/story

Mike Bougie said...

"I have found that the only real value in blogging is that it forces you to think through your topic and gives you a chance to be "published". Often times your work will be critiqued in a rapid fashion. I think the reluctance comes from not wanting the world to view a half-baked idea. Perfectionism has no place in the blogosphere."

Michael Deitsch Sr. said...

"I decided to blog about three years ago. I wanted to learn how to do it and at the same time as I was thinking about what to focus on I decided rather then approach it as an expert I will learn more about something new I need to understand and then share that expereince with other. Since I was in my 60's I decided to write about what it takes to enjoy retirement. That is how "Happily Retired" first got started. I am not ready to retire just yet, but not only have I learned a lot through this experience, I have met many great friends in the process I found doing the blog was a release for my pent up creative energy. There came a day when the blog his a 6 ranking on Google. I am told that is very exclusive club. And the site started making money. All the better for retirement. The blog has changed over the years and we are building our ranking back up one day at a time. Since this is all about learning I was willing to take the risk to try new things. I would encourage anyone to blog for fun or profit. If you want to send me an article i will be glad to post it. The blog is [www.happilyretired.com] and I will give you full credit for each article used."

cynthia guy said...

"Please let me know when you find the solution. I have one client who is five years from retirement and has vowed to get to retirement without ever touching a computer!"

Ken C said...

John

This is an interesting one, considering Joe is an engineer. unusual for someone trained in the sciences to dismiss advancement of technology and change. Would suggest you appeal to his creative problem solving side, and determine if he still has the zeal to build a better mousetrap. If he does than he, like the rest of us, needs to keep his skills contemporary and in demand.

Ken

George Osorio said...

read the New York Times from front page to back page. I did not care for much of the material that I read, but I later understood the utility of reading that newspaper. It forced us to, not only stay updated on current events, but to become comfortable with reading newspapers. I see your topic as hitting on the same idea: blogging may or may not suit today's leader, but, it is a tool that ought to be mastered so that at the very least that leader can converse about the value of blogging and make an educated statement as to why he or she elects not to blog. To simply dismiss a new technology that is widely used is to risk becoming irrelevant as a leader. I see all too often leaders that "don't get it" simply because they are no up to speed on the latest technology. That was the case when I started as a design engineer and my managers were not conversant in 3D CAD systems. I totally lost my respect for them as leaders. I think it is imperative for leaders to learn as much as they can about the world around them and the significance of new technologies and new developments in the world."

Wendel said...

John,

Again, thanks for all you write and do!

I am in need of deciding on how to approach some of my blogging ideas. See, I want it to be focused, so that it gives a sense of direction on one main theme - and it'll be more beneficial to the 'niche.' But, I also would like it to be somewhat broad. I don't know how to find the balance, or should I simply create a couple, three different blogs to accomplish that purpose?

With that... do you know of good resources to give me good insight on to what is a good way to blog?

Again, you rock, and I'm ever thankful that I've met you that day.

Regards,

Wendel

John Bishop said...

Hi Wendel,

There is quite a bit written about what makes a good blog. While I found reading some to be my best tool to decide how to develop mine, the Blogging for Dumbies book is not bad either.

Another completely different thought is not to host a blog at all, but to be a serious contributor through comments or guest blogging. I actually recommend this approach for executives or otherwise busy people.

John

John Bishop said...

Thank you to everyone for commenting on this topic. it appears I need to communicate the value of web 2.0 and Joe needs to be open to change of all types.

John

Maryann Scaturro said...

"Andrew brings up a valid point of our own beliefs blocking our thought pattern. We have to open our mind to others approach to life and learn not to exclude others due to our belief. Instead realize that maybe a younger person could teach us something. I don't use the text option on my cell phone - first because I can't see it and secondly because it hurts my hands. My 18 year old son said something interesting to me the other day that is appropriate here. Who thought my generation would be teaching your generation about computers, phones, and stuff like that.. How true. Most of us grew with up with elders as our authority figures. Our parents, bosses, etc knew more then we did and we dared not question authority. I have mentored to those older and younger then me. It is a give and take situation. Learn something from the younger folks (or what I call the whipper snappers). You're either on board or overboard..."

Ron Brigham said...

"I would wonder what his reasoning is for rejecting innovation. As much as new technologies can help us reach many people easily it lacks the personal touch. We have made communication easier but lost the ability to communicate both Effectively and Affectively. As little as 7% of the message we seek to send is within the words we use. Dont get me wrong, there are wonderful tools available in this new world. Linkedin, Blogging, Twitter, Skype... But i tend to differ to the old model. Why did high end business deals take place on golf coarses? why do the best salesman still want to meet for lunch and shake your hand? For one reason, its still better. Its not a matter of embracing all the latest technological advances, its why you do it and how you use them. but more importantly what are you doing that may actually make your leadership efforts less for it. I dont know why you want him to embrace these advances and i dont know why he is rejecting them. BUT if i was his mentor i would wonder if at this point the protege is actually becoming the mentor."

Security Liaison said...

"You know what? My first career was as anti-technology as it can get for me. I was a calligraphist (specialize field of the graphic arts - lettering). If you needed dinner menus, wedding invitations, greeting/seaonal cards with a fancy style -- that was me. Feathers, Quills, Ink, Parchment - definately no technology. Now for what I deal with now is all about technology -- securing the electronic communications over the Internet with high-end encryption. Blogging is a tool, has a specific use, and has to have a following. If Joe doesn't have a following -- I can't see where a blog is going to help him. Oh, it might help him build a following, but then so might a few sales calls -- building relationships and repore. Don't let me get too critical here, but for those that I have mentored and tutored, instructed and led, unless their paycheck hinged on doing exactly what I told them to do, the best I could do is share my experience, show them the ropes on how to use such tools and let them come back to learn more. If it wasn't something they wanted at that time -- there is no pushing them. It sounds like it is your desire to use Web 2.0 and not his. To parallel this, I can't believe that you aren't using encrypted email over such an unsecured network like the Internet. Microsoft made the use of encryption so easy (two buttons sign and encrypt). The strength of the product is hacker proof (kiss identity theft good-bye) and makes authentication a snap (kiss spam good-bye). Nearly an instant gratification of security in most cases under 30 mins -- a whole lot faster than Web 2.0. But isn't that my desire for you to use encryption ... not necessarily yours. Mentoring is taking an "apprentice" and bring them to a higher level of experience, so your "mentoring effectiveness" has to deal first with the question of wether your apprentice had the expectation of learning blogging in the first place to want to be mentored to master such a skill. Since there isn't really enough details - sounds to me like Joe was seeking other business related skills and not specifically web 2.0 or blogging -- and if that is the case, you should keep your material towards his objectives."

Security Liaison said...

"Thanks Ron, I too wonder just how much effort is needed to make web 2.0 profitable for the little guy. I mean, take the average Mom and Pop shop and see how many hours they need to invest in "social networking" to make it profitable and sustainable. Web 2.0 seems an interesting forum to get near instant response to your written posted thoughts -- but where is the revenues from the efforts. Are the revenues sustainable and would the needed processes support putting an employee to "bringing in the dough" more than it costs. If it isn't a revenue, then we are spending our time non-productively. Golf courses are still used because revenues occur there, salespeople still pay for lunch because more is made then spent. Maybe Joe needs to see how it impacts his bottom line -- and if it is "losing" - maybe Joe is right in dedicating his time and efforts towrds the channels that are bringing in his revenue."

Ron Brigham said...

"I agree, but am also weary of bringing profit principles into the equation. Often the most effect things we do that lead to long term sustainability (profit) are not measurable as showing direct correlation. We need to step away from measuring margins (objective) and move towards measuring value (subjective). I’ve sat in to many meetings being told I can’t make my projected numbers just to end the year well above even my own projections. Not because I’m incompetent running numbers or because VPs cant understand my business, but because you simply cannot measure the outcomes of GREAT practices that place connecting with people above a reverent following of margin. The long term gains of accepting short term losses especially when it comes to connecting personally with the people around us are generally hard to see, and even harder to measure. The psychological and sociological experimentation necessary to see true causal relationships would take so long and be so complicated that unless you see value in these things as a manager you will never see value in them regardless of the outcome. I believe deals are made on golf courses because it sets the stage for a relaxed environment of candor, frankness and personal connection between individuals. There are no flow charts or financial measures telling us the ROI isn’t justified, just two people determining that they have the ability to work together to make something bigger then the individual parts work. The salesman meeting in person takes advantage of three forms of persuasion; the foot in the door phenomenon, central and peripheral route, whether they know it or not. (One area where there is strong corollary research). All of which are made infinitely more difficult over greater distance. One area where meeting in person costs us in margin but can pay off in volume. Why are these modes ultimately successful, tried and true? Because the importance of personal connection, seeing someone, hearing their voice, shaking their hand… simply cannot be replaced by the convenience of technology. Too much of what it means to be human, too much of what it means to be a social being is lost. Too much of the strength involved with connecting with people personally is ignored because there cost slows things down and bites into margin. It’s cheap to hold a web seminar compared to flying a work team across the country or around the world. It takes little time to send out a mass e-mail or blog compared to taking your message to the people personally. And because of this the humanity of what you’re attempting can be diminished in its returns. I don’t doubt or deny the importance, power, or capabilities of current technology. I think they have their place and used appropriately can be VERY powerful. I just wonder why the mentor pushes it and the protégé rejects it. Both reasons could be right, and both could be wrong. John, In my mentoring efforts i always try to be as personally connected as possible. Mentoring after all is first and formost an act of our humanity. More is accomplished in a 5 minute phone call then a 10 page e-mail. Mentoring is about generating value and should be driven by the Protoge. So you just have to ask what he wants and determine what gives him the most value."

John Bishop said...

"Great name...good question"

Philip Nadavallil said...

"Interesting topic. My two cents... I believe it is important to keep an open mind to technology in all its various incarnations (web2.0 being one). It lets you build up an arsenal of tools to apply to problems appropriately. A blog about personal life might not be the perfect thing for Joe to do on a daily basis, but a blog might be exactly the right tool for one of his clients to use to disperse information internally at his company. The same can be said of twitter, social networks and all the fantastic tools that technology gives us now. Know the tool, use where appropriate!"

Cathy said...

I think that it's the mental road block that needs to be overcome when someone starts to blog. You want to get them use to the idea, have them write a piece like they would write to friends about what the highlights of the month are at work. Have them proof read it a time or two to get comfortable with the idea to include checking spelling and grammar. It's not necessarily they don't want to do it but what to say or how to say it maybe the issue. If you can't write to someone who knows nothing about the topic, then you aren't reaching the correct audience. If you narrow it down, only a select few will read it.

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