Blue Shield of California's Blue Advisor Mentorship Program
Blue Shield of California is committed to the growth and development of our people. One of the ways we support this is through our Blue Advisor Mentorship Program. This program creates opportunities for our people throughout the enterprise to partner across position levels. Participants can register as mentors, protégés, or both.
Mentors develop skills in coaching, providing constructive feedback, and building meaningful relationships across the enterprise. Protégés are able to identify and set goals, and create action plans with their mentor to achieve their career growth and development targets over the course of the program.
To give you further insight into the program, we’ve asked a handful of our people, both mentors and protégés, to share some lessons they learned and taught at our virtual water cooler.
Questions for Mentors
Q: What lessons or skills did you want to instill in your protégé?
“Learning how to handle ambiguity. We live in a dynamic, changing world where we do not have all the answers at the beginning. The ability to move forward with imperfect information and make changes on the fly are critical to the jobs of the future.”
“When it comes to focusing on your development, it first starts with having a plan and being deliberate with your actions. Often team members can quickly jump to executing on their plans, but do not spend the time to effectively align their plans with what they are looking to achieve. It is important to slow down and properly plan. Secondly, it is critical to get outside your comfort zones with your development. If you are not feeling a little uneasy, then you probably are not pushing into new territories where growth can happen. Don’t be afraid to fail a little on the path to success.”
Q: How do you achieve your advising goals with your protégé?
“The approach I take is to get curious together by asking questions and considering other perspectives and scenarios.”
- “Set clear goals for our monthly meetings and follow up on progress on those goals.”
- “Divide the larger or long-term goals into smaller, digestible steps that can be achieved in the short term.”
- “Ask them to write down goals and share out accomplishments weekly/bi-weekly."
Q: What is the most important piece of advice you want to relay to a protégé?
“Know that career changes are not always up. Your career is a constant evolution of where you have been, are now, and how you may leap into that next role either up, lateral or back. It’s about what you want to learn and how much you can invest in this point in time in your life. And don’t forget to continuously care and feed your network in and outside of Blue Shield. Your network is your path to that next opportunity.”
“Never stop learning and growing, and this doesn’t always mean a promotion. Too often we only correlate growth with a promotion. Job satisfaction, team engagement, personal brand and reputation – to name a few – is all growth as well.”
Q: How do you believe that the mentorship program has helped enhance or advance your career and that of your protégé?
“It’s a support system that validates and encourages opportunities for growth. It’s a great way to hear other perspectives and check in on obstacles, tough decisions and feedback in an unbiased, honest way. I remember my first mentor at a company when I was just starting out, and they personally invested in me and my career growth, but let me take on new responsibilities, eventually hire and manage a large team when I did not have that prior experience. This leader instilled trust in me and my development that has carried me throughout my career.”
“Having open, honest discussions around leadership and my experiences helps remind me what I need to do in order to be successful. I have learned a ton in my discussions with the folks I have mentored. I hope that those I have mentored have a better understanding of what type of leader they want to be and what type of career they want to have.“
“This has helped my career by helping others establish goals and stick to them. My protégé has increased her presence within the organization, her communication skills and her executive presence.”
“I learn as much from the protégé, if not more, than they learn from me. It truly is a two-way street. Not all concepts, techniques and advice can be delivered the same way to everyone. Learning how to adjust the way to deliver protégé advice has been a wonderful new skill.”
Questions for Protégés
Q: What did you hope to learn from your Mentor?
“I had been looking into different areas of interest for my career path when I was looking for a mentor. I was looking for someone who had experience in the area I am looking forward to. I wanted to learn the best way to approach my new goals and how to get there the Blue Shield way since I want to continue my path here.”
“Executive level networking and navigation, along with the appropriate timing and frequency to apply the networking and navigation. In the end, I learned the more natural all that happens through day-to-day business, the more genuine and deeper the networking will be.”
Q: How were your learning goals accomplished with your mentor?
“My mentor helped me improve my people leadership skills by coaching me on performance conversations and constructive feedback for my team. Now, when I provide feedback, I try to focus on specific behaviors, and I ask them for their point of view. At the end, I ask for their feedback, and we collaboratively determine ways to improve ‘how we do work.’"
“My mentor guided me through an in-depth exercise of understanding myself and being able to define who I am. This foundational exercise built the framework for being able to articulate my personal brand to, first, myself and then others. My mentor challenged me by asking the tough questions, and frankly, exploring the uncomfortable territory, which is where the growth happens. I am so grateful to my mentor for giving me the tools I needed to define my personal brand and express it in my communication and my work.”
Q: What was the best piece of advice your mentor gave you?
“The most important piece of advice I would want to relay to a protégé or someone looking for a mentor is the advice that my mentor and sponsor gave to me, ‘Be relentlessly positive.’”
Sevelyn VanRonk, who was mentored by Rick Edwards, states that, “One of Rick’s lessons was the 3 ‘T’s’ of leadership: Time + Transparency = Trust. As a leader, employees want our time and transparency. When we consistently do this, we develop trust. Trust is essential for our relationship and eliminates doubt, ultimately leading to efficiency. Based on this, I always am available for my direct report, whether it’s a quick touch base or a meeting focused on their career and development. I also explain the ‘why’ behind the asks I have of them – I try to connect their work to the big picture and offer as much transparency as I can.”
“To have grace with myself… to know that not every interaction is being evaluated and tracked. There will be times when you aren’t your best, but to learn from them and not see it as a failure.”
Q: How has the mentorship program helped enhance or advance your career?
“My time with my mentor has shown me that I am going in the right direction for my desired career path, and prepared me for projects that I was able to work on pertaining to my professional growth.”
“The Blue Shield mentorship program has helped me broaden my skillset and my network. From the time I started participating in this mentorship program, I have had the opportunity to be a part of other professional development programs through Blue Shield, such as Skilled to Excellence and Management Readiness. After being a protégé for the last two years, I am now in the process of applying to be a mentor! I hope to support and guide other early careerists in their professional journeys at Blue Shield through this program, as my mentors have done for me.”
If you’d like to be a part of a company that is dedicated to your career growth and development, take a look at our open career opportunities available and apply.