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Re-thinking Mentoring

I believe in the value of mentoring. I have been both a mentee and a mentor in formal and informal programs. I have been part of the HRPA York Region Mentoring Committee for a few years, assisting in the development and execution of programs for our members and new graduates of partnering post-secondary schools. There…now you know where I stand.

However, before you anticipate this to be the typical “feel-good” post about mentoring, I’ll warn you that it isn’t. As I mentioned, I believe in the concept, but I also believe that most things need to be re-engineered or at least revisited when the environment around is changing. The concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” never really sits well with me. Status quo never, ever leads to innovation and creativity.

Recently, at an event for which I was a co-organizer, there were two speakers that made me stop and think about how we view, or execute mentoring. Both were equally impactful, and I encourage you to watch the two 5 minute videos and form your own opinion.

The first speaker is Tania DeSa. Her topic: Mentors Are Overrated. She speaks about “sponsorship” versus “mentorship”, where sponsors truly advocate for the person. She speaks about commitment and accountability. Watch this…

Mentors Are Overrated | Tania DeSa  | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

Dave Wilkin of Ten Thousand Coffees challenges us to think about Un-Mentoring, where everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. We need to stop thinking about mentorship as “finding your Yoda who gives you advice every step of the way.” To me, that makes complete sense. If you had to choose whether to be a mentor or a mentee, I’m sure you’d have a difficult time choosing…because most of us want to be both. Having access to a diverse group of people to align all of our conversations is a great way to re-think mentoring. Watch what Dave has to say…

Learn How To Un-Mentor | Dave Wilkin | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

If you participate in mentoring programs, either formal or informal, in your workplace or associations, I challenge you to think about the needs and outcomes. What is it that you really want to achieve or gain from this endeavour. Is the relationship providing you with what you really want or need. I’m not suggesting that we do away with the title of Mentoring, but rather think how it can evolve to align more closely with the ever-changing world of work around us.

Achieving Your Mentoring Goals…the HARD way

“People are not lazy.
They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.”
(Tony Robbins)

The word “goals” is thrown around in so many different ways. We set goals to accomplish things in our personal and professional lives. We continue to set goals to achieve the mundane and uninspired outcomes, only to celebrate seemingly mediocre results.

We’re not doing it quite right

We are all familiar with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. It’s a great way to add structure to the goal setting process. But this process is very restrictive and teaches us to be conservative about setting our goals. And let’s be honest, this method doesn’t get us excited and doesn’t really align us with real success. SMART is a process that helps us to achieve things, but not GREAT things. If our goals are something that we are going to do anyway, then they are not really goals.

Goals for mentoring

Anyone who has participated in a mentoring program knows how important it is for the mentor to help the mentee establish goals. Later this spring, we will be discussing this topic with our Graduate Mentoring Program, at our HRPA chapter launch event. We will align goal setting with their career, job search, landing their first HR role and building their professional network.

But we’re taking a slightly different approach. We’re taking a look at the HARD approach, a creation of Mark Murphy, Leadership IQ consultancy.

H – Heartfelt
A – Animated
R – Required
D – Difficult


No matter how evolved we think we are, we are ruled by our emotions. The more emotionally attached we are to our goals, the higher the likelihood that we’ll achieve them. The goal should be bigger than ourselves and will enrich others lives, not just my own.


You won’t be surprised to learn that “vision” is the driver behind achieving your goals. Your brain can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. The more you replay the “movie” of your vision, the closer you will get to achieve your goal.


The more urgency you have around what you’re working toward, the more likely you are to get it. Maybe obsessive is too strong a word – maybe not.


There’s a reason we say that necessity is the mother of invention. The greatest achievements come from tough challenges, so don’t shy away from goals that seem out of reach. Leave your comfort zone to achieve your goals, and you will learn volumes along the way.

Our goals need to be inspiring; they need to motivate us to achieve great things. They have to be absolutely necessary and aligned with our priorities. Our goals should be so vivid that we can actually feel how great it will be to achieve them.
About the author

Tim Baker, CHRL is an HR Consultant, Editor of Learning at The HR Gazette, Mentoring Program & Social Media Committee with the HRPA, Blogger, & soon to be Speaker.

Acceptance May Be Your Key to Happiness

Office homeThis blog post is part of our “Day In the Life” series offered this summer.

I could write about my journey into HR, but that would be a very long post (invite me for coffee sometime, I’ll tell you the story). I could write about a typical day in my life as an independent HR Consultant, but there are many good posts about that already.

I’m writing from a slightly different perspective…stereotypically different for a man, that is.

I’m an HR Consultant, part-time. My other part-time job is stay-At-Home Dad. I love both my jobs very much. The role of a stay-at-home parent is not new. However, it is not as common to see this role filled by the father. Let’s just say that there is an innate feeling, and a perceived feeling from society, that says “this isn’t the way it is supposed to be”. I struggled with my role as a stay-at-home dad for a while.

I have had many different jobs – starting in Operations Management in the Hospitality industry, to Account Management in EAP’s, then finally back to school and a transition into HR. I have also had time in between jobs where I worked as an HR consultant for small business clients. This kept me busy and up to date professionally. But during those “transition” periods, I was also the stay-at-home parent. My wife holds a high level and demanding position as Vice President of her company. Therefore, it made sense for me to take on more of the at-home parent responsibilities.

I work hard to find clients, project work and otherwise. Then I work hard to deliver results. Trying to do all of this between the morning kid routine of breakfast, making lunches and making sure they get to school on time. Then making sure they get home, snack and preparing dinner before they go off to their various extra curricular activities.

But I never felt happy. My family perceived me as moody, frustrated and sometimes even angry. Hindsight is 20/20, but I now realize that I always thought I “should” be doing something else. I should have the 40+ hour a week job. I should be the primary “bread winner” for the family. I also felt that others thought the same way…and that was a destructive feeling.

I recently realized that I had not ACCEPTED my role as a stay-at-home dad, and subsequently had not embraced it.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the same concept of accepting one’s role, as it is presently, is very important to one’s career success. At times, we may feel like we shouldn’t be doing something – or should be doing something else. Perhaps we think it is beneath our level of expertise; perhaps we feel that we are supposed to be doing more. Once we accept that what we are presently doing is…well…acceptable, we can see more clearly the opportunities that are available. It is also worth stating that there is a big difference between being “content” and being “complacent”. I am very happy with my present roles, but I still have goals and things will change.

I am now fully enjoying being the primary stay-at-home parent, and am very excited about my career opportunities as a consultant. I can see things much more clearly.

Here are three points to think about:

Accept that you may have a role which may not be innately or immediately comfortable, for whatever reason.

Accept that any one of your roles may take priority over the others, for whatever reason…and that’s OK.

Accept that your roles may not always exist as they do at present. Seeing clearly helps us to create change.

I recently read a few articles that demonstrated how our society and culture is accepting a shift in family roles. Here is a great one:


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