Archive for October, 2018

Making Decisions That Count

October 16, 2018

WSSOct122018

FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’! Below are notes from the conversation.

It’s not easy to make the right decision every time, all the time. We were fortunate to have a wide range of viewpoints about making decisions. Below is a compilation of advice and suggestions from an engaging and experienced panel.

Listen and Learn

  • Judgment for making great decisions comes with time and experience. Embrace every opportunity to learn. Be open to learning from those who know more than you do – that’s almost everyone else!
  • Embrace every opportunity to teach others what you know, and learn interesting new things from others.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Don’t expect to make all decisions on your own every time. In fact, that probably wouldn’t work too well for most people.

Be Strategic

  • Adopt a top-down strategy for making decisions (how do you stay on top of the hill) and a bottom-up strategy for executing on that strategy (what will help keep us there).
  • Recognize that not all decisions are created equal and respond accordingly.
  • Err on the side of decisiveness.

Be Open

  • Many people in tech are trained to be rational. But those in tech must also be accepting of those who are more creative, less rational. It would help with making quality decisions.
  • Be willing to pivot from a decision if the data and response warrants a change.

Manage Yourself

  • Manage the emotional part of your experience, so that the logical, left-brained side of you can focus on the facts.
  • Make important decisions when you have good energy and mindset.
  • Don’t be pressured into making a decision urgently, especially when there’s a lot at stake.
  • Trust yourself and your gut. But also point to the data to back your decision.
  • Don’t second-guess yourself after a decision has been made. 

Focus on Relationships

  • Build relationships of trust, making motivations clear. Treat others as you would have them treat you, especially when making tough decisions.
  • Take the time to know the motivations of other people and groups you’re working with. Work collaboratively to make decisions which benefit everyone in the short term and for the long term.

The bottom line is that all decisions matter, but relationships are even more important. Make decisions with that in mind, focusing on the goals, while also honoring the people involved.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ForeScout and our panelists for FountainBlue’s October 12 When She Speaks event, on the topic of ‘Making Decisions That Count’! 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Monica Bajaj, Director of Engineering, Perforce Software
  • Panelist Kerstin Ewelt, Head of Marketing, Quora in German, Quora
  • Panelist Jennifer Geisler, VP Marketing, ForeScout
  • Panelist Bhavya Vaidya, Director Supply Chain, Lam Research
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Mentorship Best Practices

October 1, 2018

Mentorship

Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!