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Talent Retention Model - Relating

Paper Airplanes Were Made To Fly

(The art of building relationships so each other can fly.)

This is Blog Post #4 in my Cohesion Culture™ Talent Retention Model newsletter series. If you haven't already done so, click to read the first, second, and third in the series.

What does a paper airplane, two brothers, and a mom have to do with building relationship?

Let's dive into the realm of Relating in today's newsletter, where we'll explore its three primary components.

In my early childhood, my younger brother and I would challenge each other to fly paper airplanes. We began by making the traditional, aerodynamic versions. You know—the ones with the sleek bodies and pointed tips. Standing behind the broomstick starting line at the beginning of the hallway, each flight challenge began. The goal was to see whose plane would fly the farthest and stay in the air the longest. I’d like to think that my superior aviation skills contributed to my success. Alas, I doubt it. More than likely, it was our age difference.

My winning streak continued until one day my brother asked for help. I was completely against it. Yet, with the motivated coaching from mom, my reluctance diminished, and soon we had created the Hall Brothers Paper Airplane Flight School. I taught him how to carefully fold and press down the creases until he had built the perfect aircraft. We practiced the art of hold and release to get maximum flight distance. He passed with flying colors.

I would love to think I fit the perfect role of sage, teacher, and coach in all instances with my brother. That would be fiction.

What I do know is that the power of relationship is strengthened through the quality time and effort we invest in others. It’s for their sake, not ours that we should do this right thing and offer advice, instruction and feedback, so they can fly. Time has gone by. I am all grown up. Unfortunately, my flying paper aircraft days are over. Or are they? Metaphorically, I’ve been tossing paper planes in the air all my life.

Talent Retention Model - Relating


In the context of the Talent Retention Model, the relating prong has three primary components with each designed to support a different level of employee development. Through employee development, leaders fold, mold, crease, and release with every intent of having their plane [team members] go faster and farther than it [they] had boldly gone before.

AND, these three prongs align with the three strategic elements of cohesion: belonging (inclusion), value (meaningful work), and commitment (collaboration).

1. Mentoring. Mentoring is a relationship building activity between two professionals that allows for an exchange of information for the purpose of development, advancement, or succession. In a mentoring program, there is a mentee—a young professional—and a mentor—a seasoned or experienced leader.

In the paper airplane story, I served as a pseudo-mentor to my brother. Mentoring is a form of coaching. It’s bringing forth the best of another person and helping them be successful in their career. Although I provided specific instructions to help him fly his plane, this would not be the case in a professional setting. Mentors guide mentees through questioning aimed at reflection and self-discovery. It is the mentor’s job to allow the mentee to be their best self not some version of the mentor. The success of any cohesive mentoring program relies on the depth of the feeling of belonging between the mentor and mentee. Through this sense of inclusion, trust is forming between the two people. Trust and belonging are two important aspects of the foundation for creating meaningful and lasting relationships.

2. Organizational internship. This kind of internship program is differentiated from a traditional internship because it provides opportunities for employees already within the organization to become familiar with different departments and roles within the company, providing insight into future possibilities for advancement.

Giving the employee an opportunity to either expand into new roles within the company, or learn about different job functions provides several key outcomes. First, learning new roles and responsibilities gives the person insight into the work. Second, it supports the value element of cohesion through the appreciation of meaningful work. Third, Organization Internships improve performance, as the work is seen from multiple vantage points.

3. Leadership coaching. Leadership coaching is behavioral focused rather than job focused and involves communicating, collaboration, conflict resolution, and creative thinking. Within my leadership coaching program, leaders take a qualified leadership assessment and create Leader Action Plans (LAPs). LAPs are not plans for improvement, performance evaluations, or formal succession career tracks. The advantage of a LAP is narrowing the focus to one behavior that the leader agrees to act upon over the next sixty-days. Regular meetings and touch bases keep the leader on track toward developing the skills and strengths necessary for professional growth and development. Oftentimes, the coaching sessions cover employee or people issues to enhance communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration.

Each of these programs supports various stages of an employee’s development and advancement within the organization.

In the next blog post, I'll break down the first component of Relating - Mentoring - and I'll share the global impact of mentoring in greater detail.

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