Board Converting News, August 1, 2022

BoardConverting Serving the North American Corrugated and Folding Carton Industries for 38 years August 1, 2022 VOL. 38, NO. 31

Mentoring: Your Best Employees Can Supercharge Your Staff BY PHILLIP M. PERRY You’ve spent good money attracting, hiring and training great employ- ees. But what happens when your skilled workers retire or move on to other pursuits? Does all your investment go down the drain? Maybe not. You can capture the skills and knowledge critical to your bottom line by having your top performers pass along their expertise to other members of your staff. It’s done through mentoring.

G-P To Invest $34M In PA Corrugated Plant Upgrades Atlanta, Georgia based Georgia-Pacific an- nounced that it will invest more than $34 million to upgrade its corrugated plant in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The investment will include new equipment to modernize the plant and includes a new corrugator, two new converting lines, and upgrades to the shipping department, which will help the plant operate more efficiently. Newer converting equipment will improve the plant’s throughput and print capability to better meet customer needs. “This has been a work in progress for many years,” said Earl Wright, Area General Manager. “We wanted to be responsive to customer needs and provide the best long- term solution for Georgia-Pacific to allow us to grow as a preferred partner with our custom- ers. The equipment we selected will meet the needs of our customers across Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, western/central New York, and eastern New Jersey for many years to come.” “We have a great team here and Geor- gia-Pacific’s Bradford plant is a solid perform- er,” said Joe Roulo, Jr., Director of Operations. “Our employees have tremendous pride in the quality packaging they make for our cus-

On The Move Securing your training investment is especially critical today, given the mobility of the nation’s workforce. Because people are more likely than ever to work for multiple employers over the course of their ca- reers, your own staff is always subject to unexpected change. “You could lose one of your top people tomorrow,” says Randy Goruk, President of The Randall Wade Group, Scottsdale, Arizona ( ). “You need to have someone ready to step up to the plate.” In addition to keeping valuable expertise from going out the door, mentoring can help your business in other ways. First, it is likely to increase your overall retention rate. People will be more loyal to your organization when they see you take an interest in their profession- al development. Second, as employees become more skilled you will more likely promote from within. That’s one more contributor to loyalty. Third, mentoring can help when new faces come aboard. “Mentoring by seasoned employees can help new hires avoid making costly mis- CONTINUED ON PAGE 24



6 x x 8 x x 12 x x 26 x x How Do PCRs, EPDs And LCAs Help the Corrugated Industry? 10 TAPPI/AICC Announces Early Bird Rates For Corrugated Week FBA’s Dennis Colley Provides Mid-Year Industry Update 16 New-Indy Sued Again Over Odor Issue In SC


AVERAGE CONTAINERBOARD PRICES The average prices reported are tabulated from prices PAID by various sources throughout the United States the week previous to issue. Prices in some areas of the country may be higher or lower than the tabulated average. The prices tabulated here are intended only for purposes of reference. They do not connote any commitment to sell any material at the indicated average. Transactions may be completed at any time at a price agreed upon by seller and purchaser.

Tools and tooling – Education or employee incentive programs – Employee retention programs – Efficiency, productivity and safety innovations , and more. Share your innovative ideas! Boxmakers! Entry deadline - Friday, August 19, 2022 Open to all AICC Boxmaker members It’s easy to enter!

REGION E. Coast Midwest Southeast Southwest

42# Kraft liner

26# Semi-Chem. Medium

$1005.00-1010.00 $1020.00-1030.00 $1020.00-1030.00 $1020.00-1030.00 $1050.00-1060.00 $1023.00-1032.00

Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del. Short Ton Del.

$940.00-990.00 $955.00-975.00 $955.00-975.00 $955.00-975.00 $975.00-995.00 $958.00-978.00

West Coast U.S. Average

SHEET PRICES BY REGION (AVERAGE) Per 1MSF, local delivery included, 50MSF single item order, truckload delivery. Sheets

E. Coast Midwest South-SW S. CA N.CA/WA-OR US Aver.

200# 275#



$62.69 $82.80

$85.35 119.54

$73.13 101.29












107.46 118.45

114.69 129.32

116.54 137.25 117.82 145.56

141.08 148.46

122.76 131.80

CANADIAN SHEET PRICES (AVERAGE) In Canadian Dollars, per 1MSF, local delivery included, under 50MSF single item order, truckload delivery. 200# 275# Oyster UC 275#DW 350#DW $78.56 $99.18 $9.00 $96.32 $105.83 CANADIAN LINERBOARD & MEDIUM The average prices reported are tabulated from prices PAID by various sources throughout Canada. Prices may be higher or lower in various areas of the country. The prices tabulated here are intended only for purposes of reference. They do not connote any commitment to sell any material at the indicated average. Transactions may be completed at any time at a price agreed upon by seller and purchaser. Prices are Canadian $ and per metric ton.

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August 1, 2022

G-P To Invest (CONT’D FROM PAGE 1)

Core Competency

tomers and are excited for the opportunity to operate new machines that will improve service for our customers.” The plant team will begin preparing the facility for in- stallation in the coming months, with the first equipment expected to be installed in the first quarter of 2023. The project will take approximately 12-14 months to complete. The Bradford plant has been in operation for 87 years, employs about 125 and has been operated by Georgia-Pa- cific since 1990.

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2022 Innovator Of The Year Award Competition Is Open

AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, and Board Converting News are accepting submissions for the 2022 Innovator of the Year Competition. This year’s category is open to AICC General Members (box makers) to showcase innovations developed since September 2017. The Innovator of the Year Competition is a video-based competition. Winners will be selected by member vote at the AICC/TAPPI 2022 Corrugated Week Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Visit for an entry form. Questions can be directed to Cindy Huber, AICC Director of Conventions & Meetings, at chuber@aic- or (703) 836-2422.

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How Do PCRs, EPDs And LCAs Help The Corrugated Industry? BY CHASE KAMMERER

can take to make greener, more sustainable products. So, what are the differences between PCRs, EPDs, and LCAs, and what work has the corrugated industry done in this arena? PCRs allow for the review and comparison of different environmental product attributes among products in a de- fined category. PCRs help ensure that claims (boundaries, data, assumptions, uncertainty, etc.) are comparable when describing LCA results and provide instructions for how LCAs should be conducted. PCRs are also necessary to determine the rules and requirements for EPDs. EPDs are a declaration of a product’s attributes con- cerning different environmental parameters during the product life cycle. An EPD requires gathering quantified data for a product with categories of parameters: raw ma- terial, energy use, and waste, to name a few. Also known as sustainable manufacturing, many com- panies use this strategy to increase growth and competi-

Fibre Box Association (FBA) is once again partnering with the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and oth-

er stakeholders on Product Category Rules (PCR) for containerboard. The first PCR was developed in 2017 and established the rules for performing Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) in the industry and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). PCRs, LCAs, and EPDs tell us

Chase Kammerer

about the environmental costs of extracting resources and the actual cost of creating a product for use in our every- day lives. These tools give us the knowledge for steps we

tiveness. With an EPD, manufacturers report comparable, objective, and third-party ver- ified data that show the good and the bad about the environmental performance of their products and services. When develop- ing an EPD, the environmental performance is described by carrying out an LCA of the product. Most of us have heard of LCAs and are maybe even aware of what they evaluate as far as a “cradle-to-gate/grave” analysis. We can break down LCAs into critical parts: 1. Identifying and quantifying the environ- mental impact, including the energy used to extract the resource, the emissions, and the waste generated. 2. Evaluating all potential impacts to the environment from the loads. 3. Using the data (from 1 and 2) to assess options for reducing the environmental im- pacts. As the public becomes aware of the envi- ronmental impact that packaging and other single-use products have on our health and the health of ecological systems, tools like EPDs and LCAs, and the PCRs they’re built from are telling a vital story. We are learning what works for reducing emissions and gain- ing knowledge on reducing our footprints. For the corrugated industry, these tools tell a story about a renewable resource, the ease at which it is recycled on a large scale or composted, and how we continuously work to make the process even more sus- tainable. Collecting life cycle data every few years tracks changes like CO2, NOx, and SOx emissions and drives energy use reductions. CONTINUED ON PAGE 8


August 1, 2022


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Box Shipments ( U.S. Corrugated Product Shipments) Industry Shipments In Billions of Square Feet Month March 2022

Several standards and guides have emerged for making multi-attribute ISO 14025 and single-attribute Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Product Accounting and Reporting Standard claims. The corrugated industry is constantly working to im- prove our environmental progress. In June 2017, the in- dustry released its third LCA report, and work is ongoing for the next LCA. Chase Kammerer is the Technical Services Manager at Fibre Box Association (FBA). He can be reached at ckam- PPC Opens Registration For Fall Meeting & Leadership Conference The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) has announced that registration is open for its 2022 Fall Leadership & In- novation Conference, which will take place October 26- 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas. Whether you’re looking to streamline the production of folding cartons, develop innovative paper box designs, or motivate your teams to broaden their leadership skills, this conference serves as the ideal forum to ideate efficiencies, celebrate wins, and stimulate advancement within our industry. For more information and to register, visit .



Percent Change Avg Week Percent Change

2022 2021

37.675 37.992


8.190 8.259


Industry Total

Year-to Date

March 2022



Percent Change Avg Week Percent Change

2022 2021

102.648 102.938


8.019 8.170


Industry Total

Containerboard Consumption (Thousands of Tons)



Percent Change Year-to-Date Percent Change

2022 2021

3.1027 3.0967


8.4866 8.4625


Container Board Inventory - Corrugator Plants (Thousands of Tons)

Corrugator Plants Only


Percent Change Weeks of Supply

Percent Change

Mar. Feb.

2.2693 2.3081


3.4 3.5


Shipping Days




2022 2021

23 23

64 63

SOURCE: Fibre Box Association

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TAPPI/AICC Announces Early Bird Rates For Corrugated Week 2022 TAPPI/AICC has announced Early-Bird rates for those reg- istering for Corrugated Week 2022 before August 19. The Conference kicks off Monday, September 19, and offers exclusive show dates on September 19–21 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Grand Hyatt Hotel is the official host hotel. Corrugated Week 2002 will bring together one of the largest groups of industry decision-makers and provides numerous networking opportunities through more than 14 exclusive events, including an authentic rodeo with professional bull riding and the Corrugated Classic Golf Tournament at The Quarry Golf Course. Keynote speakers include industry thought leader Steve York and the inspi- ration for the movie Black Hawk Down, Michael Durant. Visit to register. AICC Launches New Streaming Site AICC, The Independent Packaging Association, has launched two new sites, AICC NOW and Packaging Uni- versity, to bring online information and education to its members. AICC NOW brings all of AICC’s videos and on- line content to one location. The platform will enable AICC

members to search AICC’s vast media offerings, including AICC Packaging University content, webinars, podcasts, Ask the Expert resources, whitepapers, training videos, in- terviews, and more, past and present, for the information they need to grow. “The new platform greatly simplifies ease of access for our members,” said Gary Brewer, President, Package Crafters, Inc., and AICC Education Committee Chair. AICC NOW will have content available to educate em- ployees and promote the industry to the public. “Current development of One Point Lessons on the new platform and Public Service Announcements for social media chan- nels bolster our ongoing commitment to recruit, educate and retain great individuals for our industry,” Brewer said. AICC has also moved its 100 free online courses to a new platform, Packaging University. The new site gives members the same excellent education they have come to expect from AICC with the easier access they asked for and new tools and search functions. “AICC content growth has been exploding, and mem- bers needed a better way to access and navigate all that is available and all that will come,” said AICC President Mike D’Angelo. “AICC NOW is the right tool to bring the entire catalogue of great information to each member based on their needs.” Visit for more. Contact Taryn Pyle at or Chelsea May, Education and Training Manager, at, with questions.





August 1, 2022

FBA Provides Mid-Year Update On The Health Of The Corrugated Industry BY DENNIS COLLEY

I’m often asked about the overall health of the U.S. corrugated industry and issues facing Fibre Box Association (FBA) member companies. My re-

sponse is usually based on box shipments, environ- mental pressures, supply chain and labor shortages. Both 2020 and 2021 were record-setting years for box shipments, bolstered by 20-plus percent growth in e-commerce. Consumers took advantage of the dollars pumped into the economy by the fed- eral government and shifted from buying goods at brick-and-mortar retail stores to on-line shopping.

Packaging ERP Algorithmic Scheduling Web-Based Access Online Customer Portals Paperless Workflows Mobile Sales Systems Digital Signage Production Monitoring Mobile Logistics Analytics & Reporting Cloud Hosting IT Management Services Cyber Security Management

Dennis Colley

This accelerated rate of on-line shopping established a new baseline that will be felt for years to come. Although U.S. Census data shows 2022 e-commerce sales are declining, boxes used in e-commerce still represent 16-20 percent of total box shipments. This year, inflation has put enormous pressure on the cost of fuel, food, and goods. The latest numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta- tistics show the June 2022 Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 9.1 percent versus June 2021. Families are struggling to meet basic needs. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that consumers spending in 1Q22 increased, but most of these dollars were used to cover the in- creased cost of fewer goods being consumed. The Federal Reserve Board has increased interest rates to help curb inflation. Manufacturing is suf- fering from decreased demand, increased costs, supply chain issues and worker shortages. Lower home sales, manufacturing output and food con- sumption are all drivers of box demand leading to decreased box ship- ments, as reflected in 1Q22 statistics. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the environmental topic of the day. California has become the fourth state to approve EPR legisla- tion. These laws place a fee on manufacturers to cover the disposal costs of packaging at end of life, rather than leaving local communities solely responsible for bearing those costs. Other states with EPR laws include Maine, Oregon and Colorado. It is anticipated that one to two addition- al states will approve EPR legislation later this year and potentially 10-15 more in 2023. Plastics continue to be under scrutiny as many countries and brand owners have banned the use of single-use plastic containers by 2025 and 2030. This ban provides a huge opportunity for paper-based packaging to offer alternative sustainable solutions. More recently, the top- ic of microplastics in the air and water has resurfaced as a health concern. In addition, Europe is leading a movement toward zero carbon emissions by 2050 with mandates by governments to achieve 50 percent reduction by 2030 and 100 percent reduction by 2050. FBA member companies are very concerned about the shortage of raw materials and long lead-times for manufacturing equipment. Supply chain issues continue to plague industry suppliers and have hampered the delivery of starch, adhesives, pallets, and other essentials for making corrugated boxes. Lead times for new equipment have stretched out one to two years for delivery, as manufacturers look to automate and optimize production lines. The shortage of plant workers has made automation a strategic initiative for many companies. According to Kearney’s 2021 Reshoring Index, there is a national push to bring back key manufacturing segments from Asia to the U.S., including semi-conductor chips, batteries, CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

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FBA Provides (CONT’D FROM PAGE 12)

is imperative that the corrugated industry take advantage of this opportunity to promote the attributes of boxes – re- newable, recoverable, recyclable and clean. To address these challenges, the FBA staff continues work on several initiatives begun in the first half of 2022 including: • Introduction and use of a digital asset library where members can find materials (images, infographics, vid- eos and more) to promote corrugated packaging • Executive-level cybersecurity training • An update to the FBA website making data more ac- cessible to members • Meetings with member-company customers about the benefits of corrugated packaging • Technical research on box scoring and pallet overhang • A new Hazardous Materials Packaging Training Pro- gram • A corrugated industry recruitment video to attract new employees to the industry • A Life Cycle Assessment using 2020 data to demon- strate environmental improvements made by the in- dustry If you have any input or suggestions, please reach out to Rachel Kenyon at or me at dcol- Have a great summer. Dennis Colley is the President and CEO of the FBA and Executive Director of the CPA.

appliances and steel. New and expanded production in the U.S. is expected to occur within three years. The need for plant workers is a major corrugated indus- try concern. With over 11 million jobs available across the nation, the participation rate of U.S. workers is only 62.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This limited workforce has forced plants to work fewer shifts or incur higher expenses for overtime hours. In some cases, workers are moving from job to job and only last- ing three to four weeks in each job. Hiring incentives have become a norm and starting wages are at unprecedented levels. With federal subsidies phasing out and the cost to support a family increasing, many economists believe that more workers will soon rejoin the employment pool. On a broader scale, I recently met with five global cor- rugated industry association leaders from Japan, India, Europe, Canada, and Central/South America to discuss is- sues facing the global corrugated packaging industry and opportunities for growth. Topics of discussion included the economy, the environment and continued supply chain woes. As you might expect, each region was experiencing similar challenges, but at different levels of urgency. The good news is my association leader colleagues agree these challenges are opportunities to showcase corrugat- ed products as the world’s preferred packaging solution. It

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New-Indy Sued Again Over Odor Issue In SC

new industries making major changes to a plant. New-Indy acquired the former Bowater paper mill in York County about three years ago and in 2020 began changing production from bleached paper to unbleached material. But the company took the stripper offline as it made changes. After the steam stripper was shut down, New-Indy sent millions of gallons of waste material — con- taining, among other things, hydrogen sulfide — directly to a wastewater treatment plant, the lawsuit said. That caused the area to be blanketed by the odors, the suit said. South Carolina regulators have received at least 47,000 odor complaints from area residents, with many people saying the stench smelled like rotten eggs. The complaints began in January 2021. People living on both sides of the state line near Charlotte have been affected. Lawyers for area residents who sued Friday said they are looking for an expeditious end to New-Indy’s emissions that have continued for over a year.

According to multiple local and regional media reports, odors that have fouled the air in the North and South Caro- lina has triggered another a lawsuit accusing the New-Indy mill in Catawba, South Carolina, of not getting a pollution permit and of shutting down a key piece of equipment that was vital to controlling odors. Seven South Carolina residents who say they’ve been affected by noxious odors from the New-Indy mill say the company never applied for a key air pollution permit as it turned off a device called a steam stripper. The federal suit asks a court to order New-Indy to eliminate the odors and cut pulp production until the company obtains the air pol- lution permit. Known as a prevention of significant deteri- oration permit, the air pollution license is needed by major

A spokesman for New-Indy said the com- pany would not comment on the lawsuit. New-Indy has previously said it is working to make improvements and has had recent suc- cess in fixing problems. Separately, the South Carolina residents sent a formal notice to the U.S. EPA that they intend to sue the agency in 60 days for “failing to diligently prosecute” New-Indy for past air pollution.” NAM Launches Ad Campaign Opposing Reconciliation The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has launched a six-figure broadcast and cable television advertising campaign ahead of a potential reconciliation bill that threatens manufacturing innovation and com- petitiveness. The campaign calls on senators to oppose government price controls that would undermine the development of lifesav- ing medicines and the jobs of manufacturing workers across America who deliver them. “Government price-setting schemes that undermine our ongoing work to develop life- saving cures to diseases like cancer and Alz- heimer’s and respond to health crises are nev- er the answer,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “At a time when manufacturers are already facing extraordinary economic pressures, the Senate should be focused on bolstering our industry’s competitiveness, not undermining it. We are calling on senators to vote ‘no’ on reconciliation and stand with manufacturers and the hardworking Americans who are inte- gral to battling this pandemic and discovering future cures.”


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Registration Open For Corrugated Week Pre-Show Diecutting Course TAPPI/AICC has announced that registration is open for the pre-conference education course, Effective Methods to Maximize Diecutting Productivity. This comprehensive, one-day course takes place on Sunday, September 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will enable attendees of the course to better comprehend why equipment differ- ences, general maintenance needs, and subtle structural design differences influence the quality and profitability for corrugated converters. Course instructor Rick Putch will share his expertise empowering attendees to gain a greater understanding of machine limitations on a variety of flatbed and rotary diecutters, while increasing their awareness of how es- tablishing a tool readiness program increases uptime

and reduces waste. With 45 years of experience in die- making and in the packaging industry, Putch’s teaching experience includes best practices training on corrugated finishing and efficient package design for corporations in 35 countries and 10 different language translations. He is regarded as a world-class expert on evaluating manufac- turing processes for new product concepts and for resolv- ing production issues on a wide variety of manufactured products produced with steel rule cutting dies. Corrugated Week 2022, jointly hosted by TAPPI and AICC, happens September 19-21 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The confer- ence features more than 14 exclusive networking events, top-rated educational opportunities and programming led by some of the industry’s most knowledgeable thought leaders. All registrations completed before August 19 will also receive the discounted Early-Bird Conference rate, which

will provide the best value for attendees to experience Corrugated Week 2022 to the fullest: • Connect at the highly popular Corrugated Classic Golf Tournament, known to quick- ly sell out, at The Quarry Golf Course on September 19 • Learn from powerful keynote speakers, including industry veteran Steve York and the inspiration for the movie Black Hawk Down, Michael Durant • Make it a Texas-sized experience with a private, authentic rodeo with professional bull riding, barrel racing, roping and line dancing along with dinner and a full bar on Tuesday evening, September 20 • Highly anticipated program sessions on hot topics including Supply Chair Disrup- tions, Employee Recruitment/Retention, AI/Robotics/Automation, Digital Print Pan- el and Doing More with Less • Experience first-hand the latest industry developments and innovations with the attendee favorite segment What’s New sessions • Powerful learning opportunities through multiple courses, including the dynamic pre-conference course Effective Meth- ods to Maximize Diecutting Productivity on September 18 Secure the opportunity to attend this year’s most influential corrugated event at the best rate for you and your team. Make your plans today. Visit for general registration as well as pre-conference course registration and travel information. For infor- mation on exhibiting, contact Linda Cohen at (914) 544-0135 or


August 1, 2022

Bay Cities Wins Two Silvers, One Bronze OMA Awards

Pico Rivera, California based Bay Cities announced that it won two Silver Awards and one Bronze Award at the 2022 Outstanding Merchandising Achievement (OMA) Awards. The company competed in various categories, including Entertainment, Games, and Toys, as well as Snack Prod- ucts. The Mint Mobile Target endcap and Magic Mixies Full Pallet both took second place (Silver). The Walmart Paw Patrol Movie Pallet Train (a collaboration with Saatchi x Saatchi) took third place (Bronze). For over 60 years, Bay Cities has been a leading cre- ative packaging and display partner to brand marketers, retailers, and e-commerce companies. Through innova- tion and creativity, the company has executed unique, eye-catching POP displays and packaging for major brands to be placed at retailers and online. Bay Cities is beyond ecstatic about these wins, as they continue to be recognized for its high-quality design, manufacturing, and retail knowledge in this industry. “These awards recognize the tireless support we de- liver to our clients with regard to creativity, manufacturing expertise, fulfillment excellence and logistic know-how,” said Greg Tucker, CEO. “Bay Cities’ employee owners set the bar for our industry as we drive to help our clients ‘win at retail’ everyday.”


August 1, 2022

Domtar Shares Community Investment, Sustainability Goals Earlier this year, Domtar shared its sustainability priorities heading towards 2030 and beyond. Community engage- ment and investment is a crucial part of the priorities that Domtar has set. In the next several years, Domtar aims to advance its community investment with two new goals, as well as the continuation of its $1K Your Way program. Domtar said in a statement that time and money are key to its community investments. The company recogniz- es that many employees lead efforts outside the company that enhance life in their communities. The company sup- ports that work as well, through its $1k Your Way initiative. “We are proud of our record on environmental sus- tainability,” said Paige Goff, Domtar’s Vice-President for Sustainability. “Our community investments are aimed at improving literacy, sustainability, and health and wellness in the areas where we operate and our colleagues live.” Each year, employees may apply for a $1,000 grant to assist a nonprofit organization in their area. Most often, this grant supports projects that involve an employee’s partici- pation as well. Fifty grants will be available each year. “We’re honored to see the many ways colleagues con- tribute to the life of their hometowns,” Goff added. “This aligns well with our desire to be a good neighbor in all of the communities where we operate.”

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August 1, 2022

Truck. Loads. More.

Corrugated printing has gone from basic to beautiful in 10 years. With the explosion of packaging demands and shorter print runs, speed has become the #1 capacity driver.

One of our customers tells us automated complete plate cleaning in < 4 minutes adds 25% capacity in a working week with FlexoCleanerBrush™

He calls it ‘Truckloads More Capacity’. You can do your own math.

Mentoring (CONT’D FROM PAGE 1)

Second, more job applicants are becoming aware of their need to improve their skills to maintain a competitive edge. As a result, they are looking to join organizations that will help them do just that. And they will want to make sure you are on the same page before they agree to work for you. “Today’s applicants are telling prospective employers they want personal development in their work life,” says Richard Avdoian, an employee development consultant in metropolitan St. Louis ( “It’s all part of a changing business environment: As people move more rapidly between employers they are looking ahead to their next stop.” This trend is visible as early as the job interview. “Gone are the days when interviewers would ask more questions than candidates,” says Avdoian. “Now applicants are lead- ing the way by asking for key information such as ‘What does your business do to enhance and develop employ- ees’ skills? Does it offer additional education? Training?’” Think Business

takes and more quickly acquire technical and non-techni- cal skills needed to become valuable players,” says Lois P. Frankel, President of Corporate Coaching International, Pasadena, California ( Finally, mentoring can result in a more productive work environment. “Businesses with a mentoring program often end up with more solid succession plans, as well as bet- ter procedures for workplace problem solving and conflict resolution,” says Lauran Star, a business consultant based in Bedford, New Hampshire. ( Develop Skills Two workplace trends are making mentoring programs more critical. The first is the retirement of the baby boom- ers. When older people leave your workforce they will take along their considerable expertise unless you have taken steps to capture it.

Does mentoring sound a lot like coaching? It’s true that both initiatives attempt to improve employee performance. But they differ in their details. Confusing the two can be costly. “Coaching is much more proactive than mentoring,” explains Alan Weiss, President of Summit Consulting Group, East Greenwich, Rhode Island. ( ). “Very often a coach will reach out to an individual exhibiting a specific workplace development need. May- be the person’s sales or evaluation skills need improvement.” Once that skill is improved, the coaching initiative is over. Mentoring, in contrast, is a longer-term ef- fort intended to help individuals engage more successfully with their workplace environment. It often serves to assist a mentee’s climb of the career ladder. As such, it tends to promote a spirit of loyalty in the business organization. Coaching and mentoring make different de- mands on the person being trained. “A coach will ask questions such as ‘What do you think your next step is?’” says Star. “The idea is to empower the coached individuals to come up with their own solutions. A mentor, on the oth- er hand, might make a more direct statement, such as ‘This is what you need to do.’” Select the right candidates for each initia- tive. “If you try to mentor someone who needs coaching, they will not learn,” says Star. And opposite holds. “If you try to coach someone who needs mentoring, their needs will not be met and they will feel frustrated. Their job sat- isfaction will deteriorate, and they won’t stick around.”



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Mentoring (CONT’D FROM PAGE 24)


Teach Success So what specific skills should your mentoring program teach? Start with the vagaries of company culture. “Businesses are like playing fields,” says Frankel. “There are rules, boundaries and strategies that have to be employed if players — in this case employees — want to be successful. Most often these are not things that are written down, but rather things that people learn from ob- serving and working closely with colleagues.” Not knowing the rules of the game can be dangerous. New employees — and even some seasoned ones — might not realize they are going out of bounds until their careers or reputations have been damaged. Examples? Weiss offers one: “A mentee might ask ‘Is it appropriate for me to bring up a certain topic at the next employee meeting?’” Getting the right guidance on such a matter is important, says Weiss. “If you fail to speak up about a critical matter at the meeting you might be regard- ed as unobservant. But if you make the wrong statement, or the right statement at the wrong time, people may feel you lack sensitivity to the work environment.” Here are some other common mentoring topics: • How should a newly promoted individual deal with old friends who have suddenly become subordinates? “While new supervisors cannot hang out with their for- mer peers, sometimes it is not clear what interactions they should have,” says Weiss. “A mentor can help the newly promoted individual sidestep the old familiarities without being rude.” • Who are the influential players in each department? What is the best way to approach each, given their per- sonal management styles? • How are decisions made in the organization? Is there a common process by which new ideas are vetted? What is the best way to introduce a new idea without ruffling feathers? • How, and with whom, should a mentee network to get ahead? What players have the ears of the top people? • What steps should a person take to improve his or her professional stance? Earn a higher degree? Teach workshops? Solve a workplace problem? Maybe men- tor others? Share Expertise So what makes a great mentor? Before anything else, the individual must have expertise worth sharing. “Great mentors have something to offer because they have achieved success in their careers,” says Goruk. “They are willing to share their bad as well as their good work life ex- periences, pointing out the mistakes that they and others have made.” Such openness requires self-confidence. “A mentor must be able to trust people,” says Star. “Not everyone has that capability. Some people feel threatened by the act of sharing their talent, because they feel they might be


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Mentoring (CONT’D FROM PAGE 26)


replaced. And a mentor may also be afraid of losing their edge if the mentee should communicate the shared infor- mation with others.” Great mentors avoid grinding a personal philosophical axe that might warp the learning process. “A good men- tor is completely objective about the company and is not trying to push a personal agenda,” says Weiss. “He or she looks out for the best interests of the mentee, in a way that is consistent with the company’s strategy.” Finally, great mentors not only are willing to perform the required work but also have the time to do so. And they must have a genuine interest in a mentee’s success. Are mentors born or made? “Both,” says Weiss. “While you may be able to easily find some people with native men- toring skills, there’s nothing wrong with providing some training—even just a half day’s discussion covering the ground rules.”


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Bonus tip: A good mentor need not be in the mentee’s chain of command. “Although a boss can be a mentor, it’s often more effective when someone who is not in a posi- tion to judge performance or make decisions about contin- ued employment provides feedback and guidance,” says Frankel. Listen Up Now, for the other side of the selection coin: Who makes a great mentee? Frankel says the best candidates possess at least three of these five characteristics: (1) An innate desire to learn for the sake of learning, not just because it’s required for the job; (2) The willingness to take risks and do things different- ly than they’ve always done them; (3) Openness to feedback and the ability to internalize it without over-personalizing it; (4) Insight into why they act as they do and the ability to see themselves as others see them; (5) Humility or the knowledge that there’s always room to grow. The most successful mentees lack sensitive egos that can get in the way of processing constructive criticism. And the best ones realize the dynamics of mentoring are a CONTINUED ON PAGE 30


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