Horizontal Mentoring™ — Keeping It Together During and after the Covid-19 Crisis

What is Horizontal Mentoring?

Horizontal Mentoring is a way to use in-house know-how across lines to create connection and fix problems.

Why Now When Times are so Bad?

When times are bad, connection is needed even more than it is ordinarily.  People still need help solving problems.  They  still need a safe, confidential way to vent.  That’s true whether or not you’ve had to lay off or furlough people.

  • If people are working from home, they will likely need more support than usual. And they will need a way to talk that is confidential.
  • If staff members have been furloughed, you and they need ways to keep hope about the business alive.
  • And if you’re managing all this, you need a safe, confidential way to vent also.

Will I help you set this up and run it for a lot less than I charge when times are normal?

Yes.  I can’t do this for free but I can make my rates low enough for it to be worth trying.  And I can structure this on a sliding scale so that you can afford it.

Now, how about getting a few details?

Horizontal Mentoring in Covid-19 Times or Normal Times

Mentoring across unit lines is the key element of Horizontal Mentoring.  It’s life experience and ability to deal with issues that are essential not the area of expertise, age or formal background.  And because it takes place across unit lines ― horizontally ― connections are made throughout the organization and it is able to run more smoothly.

Mentors — Assuring Cross Pollination

While everyone is a mentee, mentors must have some specific qualities – even in difficult times.

  • Mentors must come from a different part of the organization than their assigned mentees.
  • Mentors must have people skills as well as life and professional experience.
  • Mentors don’t have to be from senior management. Depending on the individuals, it is entirely possible that a middle management person in one part of the organization could be a valuable mentor to those senior to her/him in another part of the organization.
  • Mentors should also occupy a completely different position than the people they mentor.  A Vice President in one division should not mentor a Vice President in another division.

Cross pollination is good for mentors and mentees because it:  (1) provides mentors and mentee with perspective on the organization; (2) establishes contacts across unit lines; (3) reduces isolation; and (4) breaks down the cliques that often form and can result in hard feelings and poor production/service delivery.

This contact is even more important during a pandemic when people may feel isolated if they are working from home, scared if they are coming to the office or making deliveries, and worried about keeping the business alive and not failing those who have worked hard for it.

We’re All Mentees

For the program to be effective, everyone must be a mentee.  If we think about this realistically, everyone at every level of any organization can benefit from having a mechanism which allows experimentation, venting and obtaining work-related advice without any judgments being made.  Thus, Horizontal Mentoring programs provide that everyone — from Board members on down — has a mentor.  Whether a company grows or contracts, mentoring takes place across division, unit and team lines.

In Covid-19 times, everyone – including people who have been furloughed or even laid off – needs support.  The business needs support also.  And the people who are the essence of the business whether it sells goods or it sells services need to know they matter and that they might be able to come up with ideas to help.  And they may just need to talk to someone else who knows the ropes of their trade.

What’s the Same?

  • Just as in normal times, mentors are chosen by a selected group who know the company.
  • Just as in normal times, each mentor is assigned up to five mentees. Just as in normal times, all meetings are confidential.  Just as in normal times, meetings take a maximum of an hour.
  • Just as in normal times, the time spent counts as work but can take place at whatever time is good for the participants.
  • And just as in normal times, discussions are confidential.

What’s different?

Only that the venue is Zoom, Skype, ordinary phone call or whatever will work.

Tracking Trends

For Horizontal Mentoring to work, sessions must be confidential.  However, once every few months, perhaps more frequently during Covid-19, mentors should comment on whether they are seeing any trends or concerns.  These can then be transmitted to management – again anonymously – so that that the issues can be addressed.  In general, this should be handled by an outside so that neither mentors nor the people they are mentoring can be identified.

Project Steps during Coronavirus

Initial chat

  • Identification of non CEO etc. group to work with me so we can come up with independent mentors from all levels of the company
  • Announcement to the company

Meeting of the non CEO group

  • Determination how many mentors are needed; this depends on the number of employees and on whether people who are furloughed will be included
  • Identification of people with the right qualities including but not limited to life experience, ability to work well with other, verbal skills.
  • Assignment of mentees to mentors; each person must be from a different unit.
  • Decide how many times/month to meet; during Covid-19, this will depend on what’s needed when people are working from home, how to find more Zoom time

Meetings

  • Mentor/mentee meetings are one to one
  • Meetings are totally confidential
  • Mentor/Mentee meetings take no more than one hour but could be longer initially
  • Report to me to make sure they happen

Tracking Trends

  • After two weeks, general survey with results going to me
  • If many are talking about the same issue then to senior management or CEO for solution

Finally …

Contact me via phone or email.  We can even meet via Zoom.