I recently had a chance to interview Mellissa Boggs, SVP Human Capital at Kite Realty, for a blog series I am doing with diversity and inclusion leaders, to talk about the value of mentoring in the workplace. Mellissa Boggs, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has more than 25 years of management, operations and human resources experience. Mellissa joined Kite Realty Group in 2012 as Vice President of Human Capital to provide strategy and leadership related to human capital at Kite. Prior to joining Kite, Mellissa was hired by MJ Insurance in 2011 as Director of HR Consulting where she helped launch the HR Consulting practice. She worked closely with clients to help them attract and retain high quality employees, maximize productivity and profitability, and address their diverse tactical and strategic human resource issues. She provided extensive hands-on expertise as well as led workshops in the areas of management, leadership, compliance and what it means to be an “Employer of Choice.” Prior to joining MJ Insurance, Mellissa was one of the founding principals of a full-service human capital organization called Human Capital Concepts, LLC.
Mellissa is highly effective at influencing all levels of employees towards attainment of organizational objectives with an expertise in coaching C-suite and leadership teams to align business strategy to the organizational initiatives.
DK: From your perspective, what are some of the things organizations need to do to really move the needle toward a diverse workforce, particularly in senior management positions?
MB: An evolved organization is one that embraces diversity in all that it means. It is one that understands that in order to grow, thrive, and succeed in today’s market you need to be willing to let go of old ways of thinking such as “this is the way it has always been” or “why should we change XXX as it has always worked in the past?”. Organizations need to put time, energy and resources to evolve. They also need to be sure this is not just an HR or Human Capital initiative but is a problem all leaders need to embrace and be held accountable to and for.
DK: What types of formalized mentoring structure are currently in place within your organization and what have been the results?
MB: We are just getting started with formal mentoring in our organization. Our leadership is starting to understand the need for mentoring and the value of being a mentor. They are realizing mentors don’t always need to be at the top of the organization to have an impact. We started several years ago with an internship program, in few key areas, and was able to shift the mindset of our management that interns are “inexpensive labor” to a process where key contributors around the organization are mentoring interns so they can have meaningful experiences while they are with us. They now understand the value of investing in mentoring relationships. We are also looking at external mentoring programs that will give our high potential employees the coaching and development they need that can only come from forming these crucial relationships.
DK: What should someone look for in a mentoring relationship?
MB: You want to get the perspective of people who think differently and have other experiences then you do. You want mentors who are going to stretch you and push you outside your comfort zone. You don’t necessarily want to start with people who you are comfortable with or have a friendship with. You will find over time these mentoring relationships can and often turn into friendships. Mentors do not need to come from the same field or industry. The relationship is about expanding yourself beyond where thought you could go.
DK: tell us about a protégé you are most proud of and why?
MB: When I as in my consulting practice a young woman, who was an operations manager, asked me to help her with her career trajectory. When I asked her why she thought I could help her, she said that she noticed how the leadership in her company responded and interacted with me. She had been there for five years and she felt they didn’t respond or interact with her in the same manner. She said she wanted to grow, learn and gain the respect of her boss and other managers so that she could achieve more for herself and the company. We started a 3-year mentoring relationship. During this time, she was promoted two times and went on to be a COO at a small startup. We are still in contact today and she has turned out to be a great mentor herself, developing young leaders in her current organization. She often says that the pushing and stretching, along with the support, encouragement and guidance I provided has no doubt contributed to her success.
DK: Is there anything else you wish to share as it relates to employee engagement or mentoring?
MB: Mentoring is a key element to employee engagement whether handled internally or externally. Organizations and leaders that understand this and support it are helping their teams to evolve and ultimately thrive. It is crucial we get this right because the workforce of tomorrow will make this table stakes in their consideration of their next company.