The top two challenges highlighted during the September Networkplaceless discussion about remote opportunities were:
During our October Networkplaceless we welcomed Julia Taylor Kennedy, Executive Vice President at the Center for Talent Innovation, who shared expert advice on how the area of sponsorship could apply directly to remote work environments in addressing these issues.
In all work environments, it’s critical to establish and foster relationships that encourage career growth, however, it’s also necessary to think through objectives and expectations for each relationship. Four categories of professional development relationships include:
To lay the groundwork, Taylor Kennedy highlighted a key distinction between a sponsor and a mentor:
For remote employees—especially those who are part of co-located teams—a critical benefit of a sponsor relationship is that sponsors talk about you when you’re not there. As remote employees often express feelings of “out of sight, out of mind,” having a sponsor keeping you top of mind in those conversations can be a critical component to a remote career progression. This means a sponsor needs to believe in you, based on the performance results you’ve driven and they need to know where you want to go in your career.
As Taylor Kennedy explained, a sponsor is a senior leader who:
Taylor Kennedy described a protégé as a high-potential employee who:
Taylor Kennedy’s research revealed significant gaps in sponsorship distribution between men and women as well as between white talent and talent of color. This diversity gap only widens when it comes to transparency of sponsorship, meaning people of color are eight times more likely to believe they have a sponsor than they actually do.
This brings up one of the biggest traps of sponsorship—“mini me syndrome.” Seventy-one percent of sponsors are the same gender or race at their primary protégé. It’s human nature to be more likely to see the potential in someone who has a similar experience to your own, however, this excludes protégés with a diverse backgrounds or varying remote experience. Sponsors need to intentionally seek out protégés that don’t replicate their own career path and who can add value via perspectives, skill sets or connections.
For remote individuals, how can you work to develop and foster a network of sponsors relationships?
For remote companies, how do you develop a framework to foster development of sponsor-protégé relationship models?
Taylor Kennedy highlighted both formal and informal possibilities, however, as we believe everything in remote environments must be done with intention and transparency, we’d opt for a more formal approach:
If your organization is interested in exploring a sponsorship-protégé program, we highly recommend reaching out to the Center for Talent Innovation to explore their extensive research and case studies.
More articles from Julia Taylor Kennedy:
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