Becoming A Great Mentor

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"Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, that ‘we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied to a single garment of destiny.’ In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential but unfinished drama of reinventing community, while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it", says Marc Freedman.

Master Builders Omesh Jethwani discusses the characteristics of a great mentor

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Becoming A Great Mentor

  1. 1. mentoring 97 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2013 Becoming A Great Mentor Master Builders Omesh Jethwani discusses the characteristics of a great mentor. “Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, that ‘we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied to a single garment of destiny.’ In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential but unfinished drama of reinventing community, while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it”, says Marc Freedman. Mentoring has been defined in several ways but in simple terms it means supporting and encouraging individuals to manage their learning pathways, assisting them to maximise their potential, help them develop their skills, improve their performance and eventually become the person they want to be. In reality it is all about one person sharing their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. One of the most popular questions I often get asked is how does one become a great mentor. In reality everything we know, we learned from someone else. I was not fortunate enough to have a male role model in my life as a mentor. I had to turn to my teachers and spiritual leaders to assist me to maximise my potential and help me develop my skills. In the last 10 years I have had great joy in mentoring my apprentices and staff. I am very passionate about using my experience to help accelerate the growth of someone else. It takes the pain out of some of the negative consequences I have had to experience because of poor judgment. I think to myself, “at least he or she will not have to go through that”. Here are 15 characteristics of a great mentor: 1. Be willing to play both roles. Learning is the path of life and therefore we should all be learning from others and teaching others through our careers. 2. Value the diverse economic, cultural and religious traits of your mentee. 3. Be a positive role model in both word and deed. Set the bar for yourself just as high or even higher than you would expect from your mentee. 4. Be a good listener and not interrupt. Learn to pick up important cues from what your mentee is sharing with you. Always reflect back the relevant issues and check with your mentee if you understood, thereby minimising assumptions. Omesh Jethwani NSW State Manager and Jack Long Apprenticeship Mentoring Officer. 5. Be credible. You do not need to have all the answers. The best answers for your mentee will come from their own thinking, with the help of your wisdom to support them. 6. Be willing to share your wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise in a neutral way including your mistakes and failures. 7. Be slow to criticise and quick to commend. Always play the advisor role and never the preacher role. 8. Be reliable, honest, and trustworthy. Keep things confidential. Never violate the code of conduct or confidentiality code. 9. Have a positive outlook on life. This will assist your mentee through tough times especially if they are suffering from mental, health or family issues. 10. Be genuinely concerned and empathic about your mentees and their successes. Invest yourself in your mentee and you will be amazed at how much more you benefit from the experience. 11. Be able to convey understanding of their experience without saying ‘yes me too’ and launching into narratives of your own. 12. Be there when your mentee needs you. Make the mentoring relationship a priority. When your mentee calls, texts or emails you with a request, respond in a timely manner. 13. Discuss with a teacher, counsellor or the Master Builders CAMS Team if your mentee has issues and problems that you are unable to assist with. 14. Let them fall. As hard as it may be to sit back and watch your mentee fall sometimes they will learn from their failures as well as from their successes. 15. Be there to pick up your mentee. Helping them through a failed moment is one of the greatest traits of the best mentors. Mentoring relationships need to focus on the individual being mentored. While mentoring will provide a satisfying experience for you, remember it is not about you but about the other mentee. Accept a mentee for who they are and help them her proceed at their own pace. Through my experiences I believe mentoring is so important for our next generation. For a school leaver, starting an apprenticeship can be quite a daunting experience especially on a large work site with 50 different personalities. Knowing that you have somebody with experience and connections you can call on is a huge bonus and a benefit that should never be underestimated. The CAMS project is a nationally coordinated approach to supporting apprentices in the building and construction industry delivered through Master Builders’ network of 33 offices around Australia, including major regional centres. CAMS is being implemented by Master Builders around Australia, with funding assistance from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education under the Apprenticeship Mentoring Program. By Omesh Jethwani, NSW State Manager Apprenticeship Mentoring.

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