| Interview with
Beverly Kaye, Founder of
Beverly Kaye is as an internationally acclaimed thought leader on talent issues worldwide. Her publication track record includes best sellers in the areas of career development, employee engagement & retention, and mentoring.
MM: What is the philosophical basis of your work?
BK: We take a three-pronged approach. The best development and engagement efforts include the organization, manager, and the individual. Managers need to be open to building great 1:1 relationships for keeping your talent. The secret is to build it by being yourself, demonstrating genuine interest in the person, and showing them you care. It doesn't have to take long. You need to be committed to building an environment people want to work in. All of these are driven by four success factors: ability to ask, ability to take responsibility, an understanding of the cost of loss, and an understanding that the process is ongoing.
MM: How do you see mentoring integrating with the areas of development, engagement and retention?
BK: All three areas connect and they need to be systemic. Mentoring, indeed, is very much a part of it. Mentoring helps you develop your people. It helps them engage. It helps retain them. In Love 'Em or Lose 'Em, I talk about the roles of a mentor and I suggest this : Model, Encourage, Nurture and Teach Organizational Reality.
MM: We believe that conversation is a powerful tool in fostering mentoring partnership engagement. In your work you emphasize its importance as an employee engagement tool. How do you see that playing out?
BK: I believe that career development is all about conversation-- facilitating insights and awareness, exploring possibilities and opportunities, and inspiring responses that drive employee-owned actions. I often say, "less is more." You don't get points for length of a conversation. What counts is stimulating the thinking of an employee. Conversation is a very powerful employee engagement tool. It touches employees' hearts and minds.
MM: What is the number-one characteristic a mentor should possess?
BK: A mentor has to truly care about another person's growth and demonstrate that caring by being authentic. Mentors must have the ability to be real, and not put on a show. They need to feel comfortable saying, "Here's what I created, here's what I failed at, here's what I learned from my experiences."
MM: In your new book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, you offer your readers an array of provocative questions to stimulate career conversations. How might your advice about questions apply to mentors?
BK: A mentor needs to come to the mentoring process with curiosity about his/her mentee. A mentor doesn't need to have the answers. Having the questions is what is important. They key is to ask questions to get to know your mentee as a person, beyond the work that they do. Good questions help others engage in self-discovery. Simple questions like: What makes for a great day at work? What do you excel at? What do you wish you had more time to do in your work? What skills do you appreciate in others that don't come easily for you? These are the kinds of questions that stimulate good career development conversations and provide mentors with important insights.
MM: Feedback is an integral part of the mentoring process. And yet employees and mentees are often reluctant to embrace it as a development opportunity. Do you have some advice or insights to offer our readers?
BK: Opportunities for feedback abound. Feedback really does help employees grow. Not everybody knows how to ask for feedback. Imagine the possibilities if all employees enjoyed clarity about who they are, what they're good at, where opportunities to improve exists, and where they could make the greatest difference. Again, it is the answers to simple questions that make the biggest difference. What can I do more of? What should I do less of? What should I continue doing?
I advise people to know their own gifts, to find out how others see them and know what's changing in the world around them (professionally, in their industry and globally) and then reflect on the personal implications.
MM: Have you had any mentors?
BK: More than any one mentor, I've been in several peer mentoring groups. One of these groups starts with the one profound question that takes our whole session. It's a question Ralph Waldo Emerson asked of his friends: "What has become clear for you since last we met?" The feedback we give each other is in response to each person's answer. This single question frames our peer mentoring conversations.
MM: What are you reading now?
BK: Two books come to mind. The first is The Places that Scare You. It's about mindfulness and based on Buddhist philosophy. The second one is The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward by Kevin Cashman.