Reap All the Rewards: Develop a Mentoring Program

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Sometimes I get lost — even with the help of my iPhone GPS blaring in my ear. Siri shouts “Turn right!” at the exact moment I take a left onto the interstate. And while it’s tough getting lost on the way to work, its worse when you feel aimless and adrift at work.

Luckily, there are mentoring programs to provide direction and support to lost employees. To keep your organization at tip-top shape and to ensure your employees are doing what needs to be done, think about developing a mentoring program. Sound difficult? It can be. But I’ve got some tips for you to make your life a whole lot easier. And I’m putting the tips into a list for you — because, in my opinion, lists make info easier to digest.

So grab a pen and write the list down, why don’t you? Or, better yet, take a screenshot. Oh, technology. How you’ve simplified everyday tasks. Anyway, let’s move on to that list I was talking about, shall we?

How to create a successful mentoring program: Define your objectives.
* Why do you need a mentoring program in the first place? What are your business goals and how can this program help you accomplish them?

Structure your program.
* How do you want this program designed?  Would an online program or an in-person program be more advantageous? Consider the pros and cons of each — make a list! 

Who are your leaders?
*Build leadership roles within the program. Your mentors need to act like leaders — define their role and allow them to lead the initiative.

Promote your program. 
*Outline some rewards or benefits for your employees.  They need some incentive to do this program as well.  And make sure your employees know how to enroll in the program — don’t overcomplicate it!

Oh, and don’t forget to properly train your mentors. If they don’t know what they’re doing, the program might lack success.
*Get some feedback. Allow mentors and mentees to provide comments or critiques.  What better way to make sure your program is reaching its objectives?

Mentoring programs can be beneficial for everyone within your company — both for mentors and mentees.  It’s up to you to figure out how exactly you want to design your program, but by following the list above (and formally structuring your program) will allow you to reap all the rewards within your company. At DFSCC, it’s what we do – and find our mentoring program to help us immensely. Try it out!


Don’t Let Your Personal Brand Consume You

You must read this article I found in the New York Times. After having just finished Joshua Meyrowitz’s book No Sense of Place (nerd alert!), I’ve been really interested in how today’s media market, particularly social media, emotionally and interpersonally affects us.

It seems counterproductive for a blog post from a marketing/public relations firm to be preaching about the potentially damaging effects of social media and the wrong kind of personal branding. But, I feel that it is also our duty at DFSCC to educate and guide our clients (and our readers) towards healthy relationships with social media. Knowledge is power, and if we can be upfront about the no-so-pretty aspects of personal branding, the more time we have to rule the world. Can I get an “amen”?!

Anyway, after several recent conversations with peers about this topic, I have learned a lot about how social media can easily dictate how we view ourselves and our relationships. And, consequently, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how we can prevent putting too much stock in that little number next to that little heart under that little picture on that little app.


The Social Media Monster

Again, I’m not here to undermine the awesome and powerful ramifications the world has experienced since the emergence of social media. Social media has brought us awareness, inspired innovation, facilitated tough conversations, and connected friends, old and new. Social media is not inherently bad. It is a really, really great thing. But only if we treat it for what it essentially is: an accessory for who we are, not entirely who we are.

My first encounter with the sad realities of social media was in the middle of nowhere in western Pennsylvania. I was a camp counselor to 10 precious young girls who were sitting on their bunks as we talked about self worth one July night. I did not expect the before-bed conversation to last longer than twenty minutes, so I opened with “Alright, where do y’all think you put your self worth?” Without hesitation, one of my campers piped up and said, “My social media presence.” Immediately, the nine other eleven-year-olds nodded in agreement.

My heart broke for them.

These girls, much like Clara in the NYT article, put their contentment and satisfaction with who they are at the mercy of their followers, 75% of whom they probably don’t even personally know. If a photo does not get enough likes in 15 minutes, they delete it out of embarrassment. If they want to post a selfie because they know it will get a lot of attention, they slap on an irrelevant quote from an author they’ve never heard of but found on Google to give it some justification. And they post photos of their lattes because it gives that urban, cool girl vibe, even though they truly don’t like coffee.

In particular, Instagram has become a vehicle in which we can display our pseudo-selves. We so carefully can edit and tweak a photo-and-caption-combo to give an impression of who we are. And, all too often, we are not entirely truthful out of fear of appearing worn down, disappointed, and honestly human.


The New News Feed


Since middle school, I have followed tons of bloggers. (Talk about perfect social media presence…) They have made careers out of using social media to brand themselves, and I admire them for that.

One of my favorite “media trends” that rippled through bloggers a few years ago was “The Story Behind The ‘Gram” (or something like that). Basically, the bloggers re-posted an Instagram and told the “true” story of what was going on in their lives when the photo was taken. I was in shock at some of the things I read. Jobs were lost, family members were ill, and hearts were broken while so-and-so was posing pretty in a gingham dress on a cute bike in a tropical place. These posts reminded me of the inescapable humanness we all possess, and I think this should be celebrated.

Our obsession with likes and follows and mentions has revealed a deeper issue our society is facing: we long for affirmation. But we are finding it the wrong places. Social media is so fleeting. Before you know it, the accounts on apps we’ve slaved over will fall to the next big thing. It’s the natural life cycle of today’s media.

So, I propose that we keep using social media. Use the heck out of it. Brand yourself as best you can and work hard on your websites/photos/profiles. BUT, do it for you. Let it wholeheartedly reflect you. You don’t have to outline every shortcoming or dilemma in your posts, but do not ever let your social media “success” define how you feel about yourself, or, in reference to Clara’s NYT story, define your relationships.

You, my #GirlBosses, are worth so much more than your likes. You are so full of power and ambition that cannot possibly be contained by an Instagram account. So, go ahead and post away knowing your followers are not the boss of you. YOU are the boss of you. You, after all, are a #GirlBoss.


#GirlBosses Break Rules (In a Good Way)

I recently read one of those so-good-you-rip-it-out-and-fold-it-in-your-agenda-for-later articles in InStyle’s March 2017 issue (also, one of my favorite #GirlBosses, Amy Schumer, is on the cover so I was immediately sold). Titled “Dress to Unimpress,” the article by Lena Dunham (another great #GirlBoss) eloquently satirizes fashion’s golden “rules” and gives her top five tips for breaking them. Regardless of your stance on age-old fashion restrictions, it’s worth a read for a good laugh.

Inspired by Dunham’s good-natured humor, I thought I would take a stab at my top five workplace “rules” I think are worth breaking (if you can). I’m not nearly as funny as Dunham, so keep your expectations low.


  1. Don’t bank on your degree.


It’s super awesome that you graduated summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude from your liberal arts college no one has heard of. It really is. But, if you can’t problem solve on the fly, take direction quickly, or be nice, no one will care. Even worse, if you keep reminding people of your summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude degree, you likely will not get invited to the office holiday cocktail party.

Good grades don’t make friends for you, and they don’t get you promoted, either. They might get you a good job, but they don’t mean you will do a good job. Keep working hard and tell yourself you did not peak in college. Your mountain-top moment is yet to come!



  1. Do wear clothes that make you happy.


This is the 21st century, people. Times are not that tough. You can now buy office-appropriate clothes that reflect your fun personality. No, you do not need to look like you are a member of the CIA. No, you are not required to look like Anne Hathaway in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada and give off the scruffy, I-haven’t-slept-or-bathed-in-three-days-because-I’m-so-committed-to-my-job look. No one is asking you to do that. Unless you are a Deal or No Deal case girl, you can freely choose your own work uniform. Wear clothes that reflect who you are. Work feels way more fun that way. (And if you are Dorothy Self, you will wear camo skinny pants with cheetah stilettos. And she gets stuff done in that outfit. Case. In. Point.)



  1. Do ask a lot of questions.


I completely understand the desire to appear like a know-it-all on your first day. I also understand the fear that accompanies approaching your boss because you truly do not know how to complete your task. It’s the worst. But, even more awful is Googling how to do something and proudly showing your boss your work, only for them to go, “Oh, nope. That is not what I meant.”

Asking for help/clarification requires vulnerability and humility. But it is so worth the five seconds of awkward. Ask away. I promise your boss would much rather you do it right than try to prove yourself and do it wrong.



  1. Do build up your coworkers.


If you haven’t caught on to the words of affirmation theme on the #GirlBossBlog, you must be new. Dorothy and I thrive on words of affirmation (in a major way, we’re kindred spirits). And something I have picked up from Dorothy is her tendency to text me after a day in the office to follow up on a conversation we had or a difficult situation navigated together. Knowing that she thought of me while driving home, making dinner, or catching up on emails means the world. Wash, rinse, repeat on that one. Great buildings were never built from materials working against each other – but rather with each other. And the people building had to work together, too.

Don’t fall into the trap of gossip or petty talk. It gets nothing done. You can read more about how much I appreciate encouraging work environments here, here, and here. Oh, and here.


  1. Do become friends with your boss.


In my previous jobs, there was a major “us vs. them” mentality when it came to boss/employee relationships. I think that’s how we are conditioned to approach work since childhood, thanks to the ever-present “us vs. them” attitude toward our teachers. The boss is the bad guy and the employees bond over how much they can’t stand the dull meetings, invalidation, egos and lousy memos. (Think about those side interviews in “The Office.” They are so funny because they are so accurate.)

Dorothy once told me to pick the boss, not the job (her first boss was Melissa Cabocel of the Consumer Bankers Association, and I am headed up there to meet her soon – can.not.wait to meet the very first link in the chain of DFSquad #GirlBosses). This idea might sound counterintuitive – being friends with your boss – but after building my friendship with Dorothy over the past nine (I mean really!) months, I realize how right she is (what else is new). The right boss, if you let them, will inspire, encourage, and push you to be better. They will find your strengths and magnify them. They will want to teach you. They will want to be your friend, and friends build up friends. They will care, and they will see the strengths that God has given you, and they will honor that. And I can say that I’m 100% sure she appreciates me every day! That’s a freeing feeling, and empowering too. No filing of emails for me – she believes in me full stop. She trusts me with her friendship and her business she started from the ground up. That’s no small responsibility, but that’s what friends do. So forage that good relationship with your boss. You might just learn from them, and benefit along the way.

So, if you get in trouble for committing a classic workplace faux pas, you can blame me. But, in my experience, some rules are worth breaking to enhance the work experience. And if you really want to go wild, wear white heels before Easter. *gasp*