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Author Archive for Pam Ross

Reinventing Mentoring

Mentoring has been around since ancient Grecian times, when Odysseus placed his friend Mentor in charge of his son when he went off to war. In today’s world, I see mentoring changing, adapting to different needs and to the demographics and larger changes happening in the world. I also see new avenues for finding and conducting mentoring.

There are several factors at play that are causing these changes. Here are a few that I see as catalysts.

The need for connection to your “tribe”

I spend a lot of time with people I call “Internal Disruptors”. They are leaders at all levels within organizations who want to stay ahead of the curve, on the cutting edge of HR and culture. They want to do things differently and need others to discuss innovative ideas with. They are often missing connections with “people like them” within their organizations, so looking outside for mentoring and networking is important.

The rise of Millennials

Millennials crave feedback and most aren’t getting enough from their bosses. They’re also young, with plenty to learn – and also plenty to teach! There are great opportunities for cross-mentoring relationships with Millennials, where the mentor gets back just as much development as he or she gives.

Check out this Millennial Think Tank for some great insights on Millennials and the need for mentors today.


How rapidly the world is changing

Because of the pace of change, what you need today from a mentor may change tomorrow. You may need several different mentors whom you can call upon when new and different challenges arise. It is increasingly important that people can learn rapidly, bring new skills to the organization, and having people with a range of skills to teach you is a key method for keeping up with learning.

Technology opportunities

You no longer have to look locally for a mentor. In fact, my best mentor is someone whom I met in Thailand and lives in Australia. We speak bi-weekly, providing mentoring, accountability and advice to each other. Although she is on the other side of the world, through Skype and Google Hangouts, our relationship has become closer than many of my local relationships.

So we know the need for various mentors and mentoring relationships certainly exists. Now where does one find the mentor they need? In today’s world, there are also new places to find your mentor.

Social media

Tapping into the openness of social networks like Twitter is a great way to find people passionate and knowledgeable about the things you want to learn. It’s no secret that I meet most people through twitter, either directly or indirectly. I am a huge advocate of having conversations with people online and turning those into real life discussions. Join twitter chats, see who is blogging and tweeting about things you’re interested in, and try reaching out to them. You’d be surprised at how many great leaders on twitter are very open to sharing and having discussions with you.


I met my Australian mentor at an event called Awesomeness Fest. When you’re at an event, you often meet people you may otherwise not have had an opportunity to, and you already know you have something in common – the reason that brought you both to this event. Take advantage of that. If you need help stepping out of your shell and connecting at conferences or events, check out this post about how I stopped sucking at networking. And if you’re looking for an event to meet Internal Disruptors at, you definitely should apply to attend the ReInvent Work Summit (sorry for the shameless plug – the people who attend are simply awesome!)

Non-traditional mentoring

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Ten Thousand Coffees. This is an amazing initiative that is connecting professionals with the next generation of leader. You can search by industry, offering and meeting type. If you’re a young leader, embarking on your career and looking for advice, you can meet leaders in a variety of areas. If you’re a professional, join so that you can mentor and learn from millennials. Another form of non-traditional mentoring but a source of great advice is Virgin’s Mentor Mondays, where leaders share their advice on various topics.

How do you see the need for mentoring changing? Where have you found great mentors?

Why Now is the Best Time to be in HR

I love HR. In my past, I have been a bit of an HR outlier, testing and challenging norms and traditional practices. At times, it has been uncomfortable, and I have wondered whether I fit, and where.

Over the past few years, though, I have felt more and more kinship with my fellow HR practitioners. There is a movement underway, to reinvent how we manage talent in the workplace. I meet HR leaders every day who are trying new and innovative ways to attract, engage and develop people. Social Media and new, innovative HR events have helped me to meet this progressive breed of HR pro.

A few reasons why I think now is the best time to be in HR:

We have our “seat at the table”. Time spent whining about that can be spent on much more positive things now!

Abysmal engagement numbers… again… I cannot remember the last time engagement was over 30%. This doesn’t sound positive, but over the past few years, I have felt a groundswell of organizations who are saying that’s not good enough, and they are ready to shake things up – HR can have huge impact here, and I know HR leaders across industries, sizes of organizations, and experience, who are having awesome impact here.

Collaboration within HR. With events like HREvolution in the US and Impact99 in Canada (which I produce – shameless plug), I am seeing HR leaders ready to share what’s working, ask for suggestions for their challenges, and collaborate to help each other.

Technology for administrative functions. Technology like self serve HRIS and social and employee driven performance management, frees us up to work on other things. Now is the time for HR to ensure a focus on strategy, to create new ways of working, to build culture and competency within our organizations.

Social Enterprise technology. Many organizations are implementing company wide social technology with wikis, social streams, social recognition and more. HR needs to be involved in this. It is not an IT project. It’s a people and change initiative. There is a lot of opportunity to affect real, positive culture change with these new technologies, as long as you have a clear plan and engagement strategy to encourage their use.

New ways of working. Companies like Google are making life easier for their employees by bringing everything they need to work – daycare, meals, dry cleaning, massages, nap areas, and more. Other companies like Mabel’s Labels in Canada are adopting systems like the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) which has people setting clear objectives and then achieving them where, when, and how they choose to, freeing up everyone to get work done in their own best way. HR’s role in helping to change culture in these ways is critical and exciting.

For the past three years, at Impact99, we have brought 99 HR practitioners together to discuss the future of work, how technology and other factors are affecting the workplace, and how we can help our organizations navigate these new waters. I cannot wait to learn from our community and see how these 99 leaders will reinvent work in their organizations after this year’s Summit!

If you’re not sure yet whether to join us for Impact99 on October 23rd, please join us September 19th from 5:30-7:30pm for our Meet and Tweet at Milestones. Feel free to contact me ( with any questions about the event or about reinventing the workplace!

Also – exclusively for EOList members, I would like to extend a special VIP discount. We are more than 60% sold out, and we want to make sure the remaining seats are filled with people passionate about creating positive change in their organizations. If that is you, reserve your seat before September 12th, using promocode: EOReinvent99 to receive our early bird rate for a regular price ticket.

The Five HR People You Meet On Twitter

Twitterwall MeetupI often say that on a daily basis, I learn from and am inspired by the people I have met through my favourite social network, Twitter. For those of you who think Twitter is just about what Lady Gaga ate for breakfast or other celebrity gossip, you are missing out.

When I started using Twitter in early 2009, it was simply to learn. Rather than searching Google and getting results from years ago on the first page, Twitter searches allowed me to find the most recent, up to date articles and information. I created a Twitter account and simply searched and read, rarely sending a tweet. Several months later, I came across my first “Twitter chat”. It was about leading Generation Y, and was like a fast-paced meeting of the minds involving people all over the world sharing thoughts and experiences. I watched and read the tweets flying by, and before long, I joined the discussion. To my surprise, people answered me and soon I was hooked. That first chat introduced me to the conversational world of Twitter, and that’s when I realized how powerful it was as a social medium.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve participated in hundreds of chats and over the past year, I’ve met (in person) more than 150 people through Twitter. My network has grown exponentially in a short time, and I’ve been introduced to people whom I would likely never have met otherwise.

Some of the HR people I’ve met on Twitter have become trusted friends, advisors, and collaborators. Others teach me new perspectives or inspire me to think differently. All of them are fabulous. I’ve highlighted some of the HR people I’ve met below. My apologies if I’ve missed you! I tried narrowing it down to 5 people, but that simply wasn’t possible… so I thought about 5 “types” of HR people and then give a quick mention to some of the wonderful people I have met through Twitter. Plus, I have some tips on turning twitter relationships into real life ones.

1. Thought Leaders

As I mentioned above, I started using Twitter for research. There are great articles, blogs and thoughts being shared on Twitter constantly. Someone recently said to me “Thought Leaders are writers”, and there are a ton of writers sharing their thoughts on Twitter!

2. Trailblazers

Before Twitter, I was immersed in my own little network of people I worked with at present or in the past. Since joining Twitter, my eyes have been opened to the innovative things happening in HR all over the world. There are HR people blazing new trails for us to follow, pioneering new tools and techniques, and inviting others to participate and learn.

3. Community Builders

Some people are just amazing at connecting people and acting as the glue to keep the community together. I think of them as the bartender in a local pub – they get to know people, what matters to them, they make them feel comfortable and have genuine conversations with them. Many of these people start Twitter chats and have done an amazing job at keeping conversations going and connecting people around topics, themes, and experience.

4. Collaborators

There are so many diverse people and opinions on twitter that it is a great place to meet collaborators. As a solopreneur, I often miss having a team to brainstorm and discuss projects with. I’ve met some brilliant HR leaders through twitter who have become great collaborators as well.

5. Experts

I have ‘done my time’ in HR in Employee and Labour Relations, Health and Safety, and Compensation. I say “done my time” because there are some things I love doing, that give me energy and drive me every day, and there are some that simply don’t. I love developing and facilitating training, helping leaders plan for and manage communication and transition, and developing branded culture. I also love meeting experts in the areas I don’t love. I’ve been fortunate to meet many of those experts through Twitter.

HR People I’ve Met

Now for some suggestions on great HR people to follow and to meet in person when you have the chance! Each of these people fall into more than one of the categories above, so I couldn’t pigeonhole them into one. All of them are great HR leaders.

Christine McLeod – @impactresults

I met Christine in person last fall, and her energy was so contagious that within a few days I had planned a trip to BC to attend the first Impact99 event in her home town of Squamish BC. Her vision for the future workplace and her talent for connecting with brilliant people are inspiring. This year, I have become her partner in bringing Impact99 HR Summit to the GTA.

Tim Baker – @timbakerhr

After many tweets back and forth over several months, I finally met Tim in person at the HRPA conference in January 2012. He is known for being a #wittyhrguy on twitter, and is also witty in person! Tim and I share a thirst for learning and an interest in new technology. It was great to meet Tim when a group of us got together in front of the twitter-wall to finally take our online relationship offline.

Meghan M Biro – @meghanmbiro

Meghan is from Massachusetts and writes for Forbes and other publications. She built the #TChat Twitter community and blog network. That community has become a great place for me to share and discuss thoughts about the world of work. After years of chatting on Twitter, I finally met Meghan in person last November at the Impact99 conference in Toronto. She was just as effervescent and brilliant in person as online, and I feel honoured to have met her and to call her a friend.

Alyssa Burkus – @alyssaburkus

You may know Alyssa through her posts here. She and I met for coffee after several tweeted conversations, and I knew immediately that I would love to work with her. She is strategic and thoughtful, and has become a great friend and collaborator. She also founded and moderates #HRBookchat on Twitter – a great learning and connection opportunity. The next one is Sept 24 at 7:30 pm ET.

Joanne Royce – @joanneroyce

Joanne and I are volunteers on the HRPA Halton’s board of directors, so we likely would have met without Twitter – but it was on Twitter that I first eached out to ask her about her experience on the board and about with her business before I ran for my position and entered entrepreneurship. She’s a smart and classy lady and I appreciate her friendship.

Jennifer King – @jenniferaking

Jennifer is an HR leader who is also very involved in the community in her home town of London. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in some sort of leadership role in her city in the not-too-distant future… We met first on Twitter, and then in person at Impact99 last year.

Jeff Waldman – @jeffwaldmanhr

I met Jeff through a #TChat on Twitter, then in person. Jeff co-founded Impact99 with Christine McLeod, and is now running Social HR Camps around the globe! I’m looking forward to seeing what else is up his sleeve…

Bonni Titgemeyer – @bonnitoronto

You all know Bonni from the EOList, but if you’re not on Twitter you may not realize how witty and smart she is in 140 characters, and that she has done an amazing job at connecting HR practitioners globally with #TEPHR chat. We met in person at the Twitter wall (with Tim Baker and others) at the HRPA conference, and have had coffee since – and she’s just as awesome in person! Plus she’s super smart, especially in the areas of HR that make my palms sweat!

Tips on Meeting People Through Twitter

People often ask me how I have met so many people through Twitter. Here are some tips.

  1. Have conversations, don’t just retweet or share articles. Reply to people, answer questions, get to know them.
  2. Join Twitter chats. These chats are a great way to find people who are like-minded or have diverse opinions and knowledge. You can get to know their expertise, establish some common ground, and build a relationship from there.
  3. Attend events. I met many of these people through twitter first, but then in person at the HRPA conference or at Impact99. Twitter acts as an easy way to introduce yourself and provide some simple talking points. Shameless plug, but Impact99 is really more than an event – one of our top goals is to help our attendees become part of an ongoing community, to help them guild their inner circle of trusted advisors.
  4. Invite people you think are interesting to a coffee chat, or start with a Skype conversation first.

I haven’t been disappointed with anyone I’ve met through twitter yet. It’s like a pre-screen for a job candidate, helping me narrow down the people I’m interested in getting to know. If you haven’t joined twitter, I highly recommend it as a way to learn and grow your network. And if you want to learn how to use it, we are offering a free eLearning course – Twitter4HR 101 – to all registered attendees of Impact99!

Please do connect with me on Twitter – I love meeting new HR people and helping them get acquainted to the ‘social space’!