The Importance Of Workplace Mentors


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" Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
NSW State Manager, Omesh Jethwani discusses the importance of mentoring in the workplace and how to set up a successful mentoring program.

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The Importance Of Workplace Mentors

  1. 1. mentoring 33 JANUARY/MARCH 2014 THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE MENTORS NSW State Manager, Omesh Jethwani discusses the importance of mentoring in the workplace and how to set up a successful mentoring program. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” Benjamin Franklin. Emma Willing, Professional Development & Promotions Coordinator; Michelle Bass, Skills Development Manager What is Mentoring in the Workplace? Workplace mentoring is a learning partnership between employers and employees for the purpose of passing and sharing institutional knowledge, technical information and insights. In today’s business world more and more companies are embracing the concept of mentoring as a professional development tool. Through mentoring, organisations are seeing improvements in efficiency and productivity and leadership skills from one generation to the next. Mentoring began with the Ancient Greeks, making it one of the oldest forms of influence and knowledge sharing. How To Set Up A Mentoring Program in the Workplace Depending on the structure and culture of the organisation, a mentoring program can be set up either formally or informally. Management support and approval is one of the main ingredients. Involving top management contributes positive energy and seriousness to the initiative. In fact top management should be participating, encouraging and getting involved from the very beginning of the initiative. Make the mentoring program part of the organisation’s policy, culture and annual review process. The mentoring program can be accessible to all employees irrespective of their positions. Define and establish clear and precise objectives — an organisation should know exactly what it is trying to achieve through its mentoring program. Recruiting the right mentors is crucial to the success of the mentoring program. It is beneficial to have both male and female mentors from different walks of life who have the right skills and experiences and who are also culturally sensitive. Matching a mentee with the right mentor is crucial to the success of the program. It is like an arranged marriage. Knowing the objectives and goals of the mentee would be beneficial as it will assist in matching with a mentor’s skills and expertise within the same area, trade or occupation. explaining why employees should participate in the program and how it will benefit them. Mentoring relationships should be formatted when the pairing is completed. Introducing some basic steps would help both parties. The first step would be to establish an agreement, followed by the mentor and mentee having a conversation about their expectations, confidentiality, and the boundaries of their relationship. The next step is establishing the agreement phase whereby the mentor helps the mentee work out a plan with clear tasks for achieving goals. Last but not least the mentor supports the mentee in following the plan as well as providing feedback and accountability. Generally most organisations value their employees and tend to be committed to providing career opportunities to retain employees and allow them to grow within the organisation. These organisations are ideal candidates for initiating a mentoring program. When an objective or goal has been established, an organisation has to find ways to measure whether or not the program is making progress. One way is by surveying mentors and mentees on how their experiences were achieved. A mentoring program can only be successful if an organisation has an internal structure to support the program. These can include but are not limited to a performance management program, management development program, diversity training, strategic business objectives, developed competencies and a successful planning process. One last note to remember is that there is no template that you can take from one organisation to another as two organisations are never the same. Communication is vital to the implementation and success of the mentoring program. It builds employees trust, relationships and provides clarity as well as collaboration with the employees. When an organisation communicates smoothly, it can improve workflow and overall productivity. By making an effort to improve an organisation’s communication processes, it can build a stronger organisation that will have staying power in the market. 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. Do not make the mentoring program mandatory. Rather take the approach of By Omesh Jethwani, NSW State Manager Apprenticeship Mentoring.