Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking it to the Next Level by Lori Wigler

A topic Beth and I have discussed is motivating a team and leading key people to the next level in their careers. While some things are easy to measure (e.g. understanding media and using tools), it’s difficult to teach someone how to think “big picture”, to be “strategic”, and to think from a “holistic brand perspective”. I've been struggling with this task as I prepare my Account Executive for the next level. Beth gave me great suggestions and I recently put one to immediate use with a twist!

If a team member's work is not up to par or has errors, rather than fixing it for them or pointing out the issues, inform the employee that it isn't client ready. Direct the employee to spend more time with the project to find the mistakes. For example, I recently set up time with my Account Executive for something I call “Supervisor School”. I gathered a few recently completed emails or projects which I had revised. We spent about an hour going through four examples and talked about why I made revisions from a bigger picture perspective. Some of my key rules:
  • Always ask why: we often are working at such a fast pace that we become task oriented vs. thinking about the big picture. You should attain the objective and end goal for each project. This will ensure the employee is always thinking about the next steps and will ask the right questions.

  • 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why & how): think back to elementary school--does the final project address all of these key points clearly? For example, who is the consumer/demo? What is the objective? How will we achieve it? These are basics, but are imperative for discussions.

  • Get back to the clients' initial requests: have we answered it in the simplest terms? For example, we were asked for cancellation dollars and the AE provided a very detailed spreadsheet that highlighted by quarter, media type, etc. However, it failed to include a bottom line. While all the details were pertinent, we could have provided this as back-up and simply provided the bottom line amount to most efficiently answer the initial question.

This process helped set the precedence for my Account Executive of what the next level entails. I also made her aware that in the future, she should expect that I wouldn’t fix her work and instead have her spend more time with it. This process allowed me to set up my expectations upfront. My AE’s reaction to “Supervisor School” was incredibly positive. It was clear that I was invested in her growth and wanted to see her succeed. I have seen immediate positive changes in her work.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

10 Questions You Should Ask Your Mentor by Vicky Sullivan

There are no right or wrong questions to ask your mentor, but here are some guidelines that many help further develop a meaningful and productive conversation:

1. How did you get where you are today? Chances are you would like to someday be where your mentor currently is in their career. Hearing their story can often help you in writing your own.

2. What qualities do you look for in the people you hire? Someday at an interview, you will probably find yourself face-to-face with someone very similar to your mentor. Get the scoop on what these people are really looking for in a casual setting.

3. What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry? Since your mentor probably has more experience than you, it’s good to hear in advance what you might be facing in the future.

4. I am looking to _____ (e.g. switch my career from account management to account planning.) If you were me, what would you place your attention on and what are some pitfalls you would avoid? You mentor is there to guide you. Therefore, use your mentor's experience and knowledge to plan your own career advancement. I'm sure they wish they knew what they know now when they were in your shoes.

5. How should I approach my boss about _____? When you want to propose a new idea or tell your boss about an issue, it is often not what you say, but how you say it. You mentor’s previous experiences will help you find the superlative approach allowing you to arrive at the best solution.

6. What do you like most about your career? This could be a valuable question especially if you are thinking about switching careers or are not sure about what your next step should be. Your mentor could be a source of great insight into another area of the industry.

7. What characteristics or skills set you apart from your peers and enabled you to be so successful so quickly? Membership in AWNY is all about developing skills that will help advance your career quickly and more effectively. Who better to learn this from than your mentor?

8. How do you manage work/life balance? With a demanding career, it sometimes seems impossible to separate your job from your personal life. Your mentor probably has some tricks up their sleeve as to how to get the most out of your personal time.

9. How was your weekend? Getting to know your mentor on a personal level through their hobbies and interests is a very significant part of the mentor to mentee relationship. Feel free to form both a friendship and professional relationship with your mentor and sharing stories can help strengthen the bond.

10. When do you want to meet next? Both you and your mentor probably have very busy schedules so it is very important to plan ahead in order to stay on the same page. Do not let your time with your mentor lapse. If you can not meet set 15 minutes aside one day to speak over the phone.

More References:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Joining AWNY for Mentoring by Lori Wigler

My name is Lori, I’m 33 years old, have been working in media for about 9 years and have been happily working at the same company for over 7. While I have had great managers, I never connected with an official mentor. I joined AWNY this year based on a co-worker’s recommendation of the AWNY mentorship program.

After applying to the mentoring program, I soon received a helpful welcome package with my mentor, Beth Egan’s, resume. I was overwhelmed by Beth’s success in the industry. She is currently a Managing Partner at Mediaedge, but once held a position similar to where I am in my career now. The similarity gave me an immediate sense of connection to her and made my long-term goals seem realistic. I asked around and was thrilled at the reaction when I mentioned Beth’s name. I was told she was “real”, “great to work with” and a “great person”. While I’ll always make my own judgments about people, her great reputation just furthered my excitement about starting our mentor/mentee relationship.

Beth and I first met at the AWNY kick-off breakfast. I was standing in line to get coffee and although I had no idea what she looked like, I instantly smiled at the woman getting in line behind me. It was Beth! Although I had some pre-conceived notions about top management at other agencies, Beth seemed the complete opposite of all of those things- we made plans to have lunch the following week near my office and we arrived at the same time- 15 minutes early.

We both admitted that we’re new to a mentor/mentee relationship and we weren’t exactly sure how to structure our conversations. This actually made me feel comfortable just speaking, without a set agenda. Beth was a great listener and she even wrote down some things to send me following our lunch. I’ll share the outcome of our meetings soon...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Members' Suggestions: Professional Skills Article

Lynn Zalokar, Membership Manager of AWNY, shared with us an article recently published on MSN Careers that talks about professional skills everyone should learn. Here is an excerpt:

What They Should Have Taught You in School
Filed on Feburary 24, 2010 on MSN Careers with Career Builder

From not knowing how to balance a checkbook to handling a tough boss, many schools don't teach their students how to deal with basic issues they will encounter in their career. We asked employees and employers what skills they wish were taught in schools to see what they thought were the most glaring omissions. Click Here to Read More...

If you would like to share ideas and suggestions with the AWNY Mentoring Program, please email us at awnymentoring@gmail.com.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Recommendation for Monthly Meetings by Shahnaz Shroff

How Remarkable Women Lead is not only a remarkable read but also a great framework to shape your mentoring relationship for the year.

The recommended Centered Leadership model includes five basic elements: meaning, framing, connecting, engaging and energizing. These elements are explained using personal stories shared by more than one hundred female leaders who were interviewed over the course of five years. Food for thought and idea generation, these elements can help structure conversations during monthly mentoring meetings.

I highly recommend this book as it is inspirational in tone and offers practical advice that might help empower both new and experienced female leaders.