Career Confessions from Gen-Z: What is Gen-Z looking for in a Mentorship Program?

Hey everyone, I’m back! I took a week hiatus (finals week man) and more Gen-Z posts are coming your way! (Dad editor’s note: I didn’t give him a week off for finals! Buck up, son! Welcome to the show! It’s called multi-tasking! Sure I’m paying you nothing, but I still expect a post each week!) 

For my freshman year of college, I wanted to get away from Michigan and the Mid West. So, I decided to move to New York and attend a school called Marist College. At Marist, I was on the swim team and was immediately overwhelmed. Swim was hard, being away from my Mom was hard, having no friends was hard. It was a rough time.

Before I had gone to college, I had signed up to be apart of a student-athlete mentorship program, where upperclassmen athletes at Marist got paired with freshman athletes of different sports. I got paired up with a guy from the cross country team and I immediately knew that I didn’t want to be apart of the program. The purpose of the program was to meet up, maybe get lunch or coffee, and talk through any problems you’re having at school and in your sport. After a few forced hangout sessions, we stopped talking altogether and went our separate ways.

Now, I think that mentorship programs are a great idea. Having gone through a program myself, and not getting much out of it, I have gathered my own list of how to make a successful mentor program and what I would like to get from a mentor:

  1. Be Relatable: A key characteristic of having a good mentor relationship is being able to relate to them. The mentor needs to be able to relate to their “mentee” and vice versa, or there won’t be any necessary help given or received. This is the main reason that my mentor relationship wasn’t successful. We had absolutely nothing in common and neither of us could relate to the other. 
  2. Be a Role Model: As a mentee, I would like to be able to look up to my mentor. I want my mentor to have some quality that makes me want to be like them. Although it would be nice, it isn’t vital for a mentee to want the same exact position as their mentor but is vital that the mentor possesses some qualities that the mentee aspires to have.
  3. Share Advice: This feels like a no-brainer, but it relates back to the type of mentor/mentee relationship you have. In order to give worthwhile and helpful advice, you need to be able to relate to your mentor/mentee AND the mentor needs to be a role model figure. In my mentor relationship, I received a lot of advice but none of it was necessary to my experience. The things that I needed advice on, like how to choose a major or how to handle being far from home, weren’t areas that my mentor had any advice to give.

****Bonus factor! Experience: This is my extra little bonus factor to making a mentor program top notch. Any experience that a mentee can directly gain with their mentor by their side will not only be the best form of “advice” they can get, but it will help to strengthen the relationship. Something that a mentor/mentee duo can do together to gain experience is a group project in whatever field the mentee is interested in. This may feel a little intern-y but most of your Gen-Z employees will be interns anyways!

You can follow as much or as little advice as you want from this but the bottom line for a successful mentor program is effort. If both sides are willing to try and get something positive out of the experience, then they probably will! Not every mentor you have can be like Yoda (I know very little about Star Wars but hopefully this analogy works), but just be willing to try and make it a worthwhile experience!

This post was written by Cameron Sackett (not Tim) – you can probably tell because it lacks grammatical errors!

HR and TA Pros – have a question you would like to ask directly to a GenZ? Ask us in the comments and I’ll respond in an upcoming blog post right here on the project. Have some feedback for me? Again, please share in the comments and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

The Latest Dating Trend has Always been a Leadership Trend!

Have you heard of the dating concept called, “Stashing”?

Here’s the Urban Dictionary definition of stashing (editor’s note: you know you’re about to read a great HR post when it starts with a definition from Urban Dictionary!):

“Stashing is when you’re in a relationship with someone and you refuse to introduce them to your friends and family; mostly because you view the person as temporary, replaceable, and/or you’re an assh@le.”

There are other reasons you might ‘stash’ someone. Maybe you know your friends and family would approve of this person, so you stash them because you still like them, but you don’t want to upset your friends and family. Maybe you’re worried your friends might try and move in on this person themselves, so you stash them.

But, usually, stashing has more to do with there is something about the person that embarrasses you, most likely because you’re a shallow, horrible person, so you stash this person you’re in a relationship with. On the leadership side, stashing actually takes the exact opposite effect.

Leadership Stashing

Leadership stashing is when a leader purposely makes sure one of their direct reports doesn’t have a high profile, so that other managers within the same organization won’t know you have a rock star on your team and then try to steal them to their team.

This happens all the time, especially within large organizations!

Here’s how it works. I’m a leader of a group, my name is Tim. A year ago I hired Marcus right out of college. Your basic new hire grad. Green as grass, just like every other new graduate. I quickly came to understand that Marcus had ‘it’. He was a natural. I know Marcus will easily be better than me in the near future if he’s not already better than me.

As a leader, I’ve got a decision to make. Keep Marcus stashed on my team and reap the professional benefits, or position Marcus for promotion, in which I’ll probably lose him off my team. With Marcus on my team, I exceeded all my measures last year, and Timmy got a big bonus. So did Marcus.

When asked in leadership meeting what I’m doing with my ‘team’ to exceed all my measures, I let everyone know some of the ‘new’ leadership accountability strategies I’m using, and how it really comes back to setting great measures and then holding your team accountable to meeting those measures. Marcus, specifically, doesn’t come up.

Am I a bad leader?

Yes, and this is happening in every organization on the planet.

We love to frame this around, “well, Marcus just needs some more seasoning, and I’m the right person to give it to him”. “Marcus is young, and not quite ready.” “Under my leadership, Marcus is thriving, but under some of these other yahoos, who knows what might happen.”

The right thing to do is obvious and simple. My group is doing well, I let the organization know, it’s a team effort, but you all have to know, I hired a rock star, and we need to get Marcus on a fast track to leadership. That’s the right thing, but it’s not as easy as it sounds when you’ve been struggling to climb your own ladder.

What we know is leaders stash talent.

It’s our job as HR pros and leaders to find that stashed talent and elevate that talent within the organization. If we don’t, that talent will most likely leave because being stashed sucks in life and in your career.


The Weekly Dose of HR Tech: Foresight – Workforce Planning Tech

Today on the Weekly Dose I review workforce planning technology, Foresight.Foresight is billed as the world’s first Recruitment Forecasting technology.It creates an accurate forecast of hiring need across a specified tactical time frame.

About once a year I’m completely shocked and surprised by a technology and this is the case with Foresight. I told the Foresight team, and I’ll tell you, this is the most impressive piece of HR Technology I’ve seen in a long time!

Foresight was built by some corporate talent acquisition professionals that got sick and tired of putting out fires. What we know if TA has very little control over workforce forecasting it comes from hiring managers, CFOs, CEOs, etc. So, they built a technology that kept that in mind, and got them out of fighting the recruiting fires of ‘we need to hire 100 engineers in thirty days’, ‘oh, wait, we need to layoff 300 now instead’, ‘check that, hire 1,000 total across all functions’!

What I like about Foresight:

– The platform sends out an internal email to each hiring manager from the executive explaining what needs to take place, and takes them into the systems and walks them through a very short forecasting process (15 min.) set of questions (executive can also speak to the team via video as well).

– The process takes them through the main areas of: headcount planning, known active recruiting, potential growth needs, and interns/apprenticeships. Calculates everything in a roll-up, and gives the organization a predicted recruitment path for the next twelve months.

– Hiring managers have to follow the system, they can’t skip steps or change. They can leave comments to explain, but they have to put in something.

– Executives get updates on hiring managers not completely their forecast.

– The platform works off live, real-time data, as a position gets filled, everything is updated, someone leaves, another update. Real current recruitment needs are at your fingertips, across your entire organization. Update forecasts can be sent out monthly, quarterly, up to the organization.

– After hiring manager puts in the forecast, there is an approval roll-up that takes place, so when it all comes back to TA, the department is ready to go with full approval.

Basically, anyone in the organization, from TA leader to hiring managers, to executives, can get a list of every single role being recruited for and when that role needs to be filled.

I’m in love with this from the simplicity of how it works to how if used consistently it becomes a cultural driver around your talent strategy. Everyone is onboard and in the know of what’s going on. Clearly, this is an enterprise level technology. You probably don’t need forecasting tech if you’re hiring 100 employees a year, but 500-100,000 hires, across multiple locations and countries, you need this.

Well worth a demo if you find yourself in a very typical TA role of constantly starting and stopping, and not really having a great idea around what the organization needs to hire on an ongoing basis. Bad TA happens when you can’t get out of firefighting mode. Great TA happens when you have a plan and can go make real long-term strategies to attract great talent.

The Weekly Dose – is a weekly series here at The Project to educate and inform everyone who stops by on a daily/weekly basis on some great recruiting and sourcing technologies that are on the market.  None of the companies who I highlight are paying me for this promotion.  There are so many really cool things going on in the tech space and I wanted to educate myself and share what I find.  If you want to be on The Weekly Dose – just send me a note –

Should Employers Be Looking for Lifetime Employees?

I think we all are being sold a big fat bag of lies!

Okay, not lies, but definitely a very narrow skewed view of the truth. Case in point, you are now supposed to believe that you don’t want to work for one employer for your entire career.

Do you know why you’re supposed to believe this?  Because idiots like me, and the media, keep spoon feeding you study after study that shows younger generations don’t want to work at the same employer for their entire career.

Okay, I get that. When I was 23 I didn’t know what I wanted to do next weekend, let alone 40 years from now!  But, because younger generations want this, now we all want this, apparently.

This isn’t just an employee issue either. Organizations are now supposed to believe they no longer want lifetime employees. You, as an employer, should just sit back and watch employee after employee walk out your door to do the exact same thing at your competitor. This is the world we live in, Tim. Why would I want an employee to stay with us for 40 years. I need to get fresh eyes and new experiences into our organization.

I recently met with a very successful employer in southern Indiana. A tech company that most people will never know, even though they have stuff in your computer you use every single day. They’re basically a ‘guts’ company. They put high tech stuff into stuff you use but never see. They want lifetime employees.

They take an extremely long time to hire. Fit to them is paramount.  If one thing doesn’t ‘feel’ right with a candidate, they’ll wait to find one that does ‘feel’ right.  It’s a strong culture organization. Proud people, almost zero turnover and they are highly profitable. They walk away from talented candidates all the time. Skill is important, but it’s not as important as fit.

There are not enough of these organizations left. Too many organizations today are only hiring for skill. When you only hire for skill, you get the work environment younger generations are telling you they want. One where they don’t want to stay forever!

When you hire for fit as your primary focus of selection. Meaning, skills are important, we want smart people, but all things being close to equal, fit will determine the hire. Fit is so important that if we can’t find the ‘right’ fit, we’ll leave the position open until we can, regardless of skill.

Here’s my deal, I think employees do want to work for one company for a lifetime.  I think the reason you see anyone leave your organization has very little to do with them not wanting lifetime employment  and a ton to do with how they fit in an organization. Sure, you’ll always have talent that is capped out and needs to move to grow, but even then I think those people would prefer to stay and grow.

Hire for fit. Teach the skill. Enjoy high tenure, high performance, and better profits.  So, yeah, start looking for lifetime employees!

Great Talent Supports Great Talent

Too often leaders put up with a great talent who’s shitty to other employees. The belief is that because the employee is so talented we should be willing to put up with how they treat others. It happens all the time in organizations! All. The. Time.

Ichiro Suzuki is a very successful Major League Baseball player for the Seattle Mariners who just hit his 3,000 hit in the major leagues, that just adds to his thousand plus hits he had in the Japanese professional baseball league. All those hits make him arguably the greatest hitter of all time at the professional level of baseball.

ESPN did an article about Ichiro recently as he was coming very close to the 3,000 hit milestone in the MLB, a very rare feat. What most people don’t know is Ichiro almost left the MLB after only one season because his teammates treated him so badly:

“Suzuki explained later that in the middle of his career with the Mariners, when the team wasn’t playing well but he was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, his teammates called him selfish and said that he cared only about individual accolades. After Griffey, Sweeney and Ibanez arrived, he says, they stood up for him and encouraged their teammates to worry about their own play first.”

It wasn’t until Seattle brought in other MLB All-Stars that Ichiro felt welcomed. Great talent, supports great talent. Okay, everyone on an MLB roster is talented, but even within those rosters, there are levels of talent. Ichiro is a hall of fame talent. Griffey is a hall of famer.

The point to all of this is your best talent should support the other best talent of your organization.  If you have great talent that isn’t supporting each other, you need to make a move. Great talent is talented if they don’t support the other talent in the organization. That might be the single most difficult thing for leaders to understand.

Your talent is wasted if you can’t find ways to lift up the other talent around you. Seattle was able to find talent that was willing to do that and Ichiro turned his talent into one of the greatest of all time, but he was also very close to just packing it in and going home.

I wonder how much talent walks out your door based on how they are being treated by others in your organization?

How To Build a Dream Team at Work

If you pulled up any sports-related website or watched any sports news show on TV in the past few days you know that NBA player Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City Thunder and accepted a free agent offer to go and play for the Golden State Warriors.

It’s a big deal because Golden State was already pretty good, now, with Kevin, they look to be unstoppable! Basically, Golden State has built a team with arguably 4 of the top 20 players in the NBA on one team (Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green). Most ‘great’ teams might have three top players, no one in history has had four when all playing at their peak!

Building a dream team seems to only happen in sports, but you hear talent acquisition leaders and executives talk about it a lot. How do we build a sales dream team, a marketing dream team, a design dream team, etc.? We all want to be a part of a dream team, or be a part of building a dream team for our organization!

So, how do you build a dream team?

1. You have to know how you want to ‘play’. You have to define what it is you want to do. An outcome. A style. “We want the best designed UX of any platform that supports patient safety in a hospital environment.” As an example.

2. You have to know who is the top talent in your industry that can accomplish the outcome you desire.  This is actually the hardest part of building a dream team in a non-sports environment because we usually don’t have comparing statistics or analytics to even start to understand who the best is.

3. You have to be able to recruit those individuals to your team. This is actually easier than in professional sports. In pro sports it usually takes one or two superstars to make a decision to get together, then they help recruit the others. In the real world, it helps to have a well-known professional, but it’s not necessary if you can sell the right story, compensation, and location!

4. Just having the ‘best players’ doesn’t guarantee success, they have to buy into the goal of the entire organization. This means having leadership with a clear vision that goes beyond the outcome. Yes, we want to win a championship, but we want to win that championship together, utilizing all of our strengths. This is another really tough thing in a real-world setting because it takes great visionary leadership.

5. Having a ‘Dream Team’ is about “Team”. You’ll have great talent and that great talent needs to understand that they go nowhere without those who support them to do great work. So, your dream team members have to be servant leaders. If they have great talent and treat people like crap, they won’t end up being a great talent!

I love it when great talent makes the conscious decision to get together and try and do something great. Some people don’t. They would prefer to see one great talent try and do it on their own. I love watching highly talented people get together and see how far they can push the levels of greatness! That’s what dream teams are all about, the dream.

Sackett Stats #36 – Boss Block

I was with some HR blogging friends at a conference recently and we were talking shop. Someone had a great idea for a blog post, but said they couldn’t find any stats to back it up, so they weren’t going to write about it. My exact quote back was, “I just make stats up!”

To be fair, when I do make stats up, I tell you! It’s something like, “9 out of 10 employees who are fired (by me) want to kill their boss!”

My stats aren’t just made up! Sackett Stats are based on nothing more than twenty years of my experience working in the trenches HR and TA, across multiple industries. To be honest, though, some idiot will one day read this and think it’s a real number, stick it in their Forbes article, and they a few weeks later you’ll see it at your local SHRM meeting in a presentation deck!

Sackett Stats! Like Pew Research, but far less likely based on actual research.

Sackett Stat #36 is called Boss Block.  The concept of this statistic comes from the number of years that are between you and your boss in age. The lower the number, the less likely you’ll ever be promoted, and the more likely you are to turnover.

The average over/under Boss Block number that pushes a person to leave an organization is 5.3 years.

If your boss is more than 5.3 years older than you, you are less likely to leave the organization, believing you will eventually get a chance to be promoted. Obviously, the farther apart in age, to your boss, the less likely you are to leave on your own. If your boss is 5.3 years or less to your age, you are highly likely to leave, believing there is no chance in hell you’ll ever get promoted because you’re being Boss Blocked for promotion.

Sackett Stats – like most stats, but more believable.

I Haven’t Been Realizing I’m Getting Old

I have three sons: 19, 17 and 12. When I tell people this, they have a hard time believing I’ve got kids that old. That always makes me feel good.

I guess I don’t look as old as I really am. When I look at Facebook and see the ‘kids’ I graduated with, some I don’t even recognize, they look like old people and I think to myself, holy hell Batman, I hope I don’t look like that to them!

I’m 46 years old.  In my mind, I still believe I’m 26! My body most days feels like I’m 56!

My wife smacks me at least once a day for something juvenile that comes out of my mouth. I would rather hang out with my teenage sons and listen to their music, watch their movies and play their games.

My last two vacations I’ve decided to take up surfing, because apparently I’m 14 years old.  I’m Benjamin Button, but only mentally!

I’ve been interviewing people who weren’t even born when I started my career. I’ve forgotten more shit than they even know. And, yet, they come in knowing more shit than I’ll ever know.

I’ve been getting old and I didn’t even realize it.

I figure I have 25 years left to work.  I about halfway through my career. When you look at it from that standpoint, it doesn’t seem like old, it seems like primetime! If an NBA player had a ten-year career, year five would be around the height of their ability! It’s when they would be most valuable.

So, maybe I should think of it as old, but think of it as I’m playing my MVP years, right freaking now!

It makes sense. My wife says recently it’s like I’ve been trying to work two full-time jobs. She’s probably right because I have to, you only get one chance at your MVP years. Ten years from now I won’t be going “now is the time!” Nope. It’s right now. I’ve got to make stuff happen. I’ve got win championships! Whatever the hell that means.

I wonder how many people feel this same way, but they’re at different ages?

When I as thirty, I distinctly remember thinking, “holy crap, I’m 30 years old, I need to be a VP!”  I bet there are 60-year-olds out there thinking, “it’s my time to shine!”

From 20-ish to 70-ish are your prime working years. You have 50 years of work. I know, many of you think you’ll stop working between 60-65 years of age. You won’t, that was your grandparents and maybe your parents. It’s not us. 70 is the new 60. Most of us won’t retire until we reach 70+.

50 years of work.

Take the amount of work experience you have, right now, and subtract it by 50. How many work years do you have left? What are you going to do with those years? I bet you haven’t even come close to accomplishing all that you want!

Employees don’t leave organizations, they leave…

BOSSES! Right?! Right? Right…

For at least the past two decades, the foundation of employee engagement has been built on this one simple principle. Employees don’t leave organizations, they leave Bad Bosses.

So, if you want highly engaged employees just don’t have assholes for bosses. Super easy! Just hire and train great leaders and your employees will be engaged and productive and all will be right in the world.

Then along comes Harvard and their stupid studies:

“Good leadership doesn’t reduce employee turnover precisely because of good leadership. Supportive managers empower employees to take on challenging assignments with greater responsibilities, which sets employees up to be strong external job candidates. So employees quit for better opportunities elsewhere — better pay, more responsibility, and so on.”

Wait, what!? This is exactly what your CEO said she feared when you wanted to dump all of that money into leadership development. But you said, “If we don’t develop our leaders the people will leave as well!” So, what happened? We did so well at developing and empowering our leaders they pushed our best employees right out the door to other opportunities!

Ugh! This HR thing is hard. We think we’re doing the right thing for twenty years, then we find out we did it all wrong! Don’t fret, there’s some good news:

“There is a silver lining, though. Former employees with good bosses are what we call “happy quitters.” When the consultant company asked them about their feelings toward their former employer, their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Questions included Do you hold positive opinions about your former company? Would you refer employees to work for the company? and Do you see yourself as a potential boomerang employee? Good leadership, then, is an important tool for building goodwill with employees, which they are likely to retain as alumni, in turn becoming sources of valuable information, recommendations, and business opportunities later on.

The upside to losing well-led employees, however, comes with an important caveat. Our research finds that good leadership generates alumni goodwill only for those employees who experience good faith retention efforts when they quit. So managers should go to bat for their employees and counteroffer if they can. Our findings indicate that such retention efforts are critical for preserving the goodwill created by good leaders with employees, which can then be translated into a continuing relationship with them as alumni.”

What does this all mean?

You better get a heck of a lot better at Off-boarding! Off-what?  You know Onboarding but in reverse. Make employees feel really good about leaving you! Make them feel like they are valued and you don’t want to lose them and you’ll do anything to keep them. When they leave, they’ll be more likely to return or recommend others go work for you.

Most companies off-board like this:

Leaving employee: “I’m putting in my two weeks notice, I have this great opportunity to challenge myself and I have to give it a shot.”

HR and/or Hiring Manager: (while ripping their shirt) – “You are dead to us! Leave immediately. Don’t return to your desk, we already have security guards boxing up your crap!”

You laugh, but it’s mostly true. We suck at off-boarding, which is why most of us suck at alumni hiring. Fix that!

The Next Generation Just Named Itself! #NicknamingYourselfIsStupid

Have you ever had a nickname you didn’t want?  You were in the third grade and crapped your pants and some dumb kid called you ‘Stinky’ and it stuck, for life! The rest of your life you got to go around being called ‘Stinky’ and having to explain this to people.

I think most people in those situations try to create a new nickname!  “Hey, guys, just call me Dice! I was at summer camp and all the guys there called me “Dice”! We played this game with dice and I was really great at it, anyway, it stuck. So, you guys can call me Dice, I’m cool with it.” Okay, Stinky, we got you!

There’s only one rule in nicknames. That rule? You can’t make your own nickname!

To my surprise the great folks at MTV decided it would be a great idea for the kids over at GenZ, that generation under the Millennials, to just come up with their own generational nickname.  The MTV crew actually surveyed thousands of high school kids from across the country to determine what they would prefer to have their ‘generation’ called.

Say hello to The Founders!

Why the founders?  Well, apparently this next generation has attached itself the Silicon Valley culture of founding companies.  Not they have really actually done this, but it’s what they identify with, so why not act like you started this whole dot com, startup thingy.

What do we really know about these Founders? A few things for sure, that I think will help organizations understand this next generation entering the workforce:

1. They were raised during the Great Recession. Not since the Great Depression, have so many kids witnessed parents and adults close to them lose so many jobs and struggle financially. This will impact their work ethic, the importance of keeping a job, etc. Think the opposite of how Millennials view work! The Founders probably have more in common with the Greatest Generation, than the Millennials.

2. They have never not had a Smartphone. This will impact how they do their work, how they socialize and how they communicate. The Millennials had flip phones to start!

3. The media has bombarded them with unrealistic views of what work looks like.  Google is an outlier, not the norm. Yet, they tend to believe it’s the norm because the ‘Googlized’ work environment gets so much publicity. 99% of work environments do not look like Google. This will cause some ‘hey, I didn’t expect this’ moments for a ton of kids in their first jobs.

I hate naming generations. Millennials, Founders, Gen-X… They’re kids.  They won’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, and you’ll have to teach them most everything they’ll need to know about your company and your jobs, because our educational system continues give them real-world skills to compete.

Call them whatever you want.  Entry level always seems to fit best.