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Mentoring Connections Newsletter
April 1997

In this issue


Our second network meeting for the year was held on Wednesday 16 April 1997. We were delighted to have Gaye Scully (Learning and Development Facilitator - Sydney Water Utilities) as our guest speaker for the evening. Gaye is the program coordinator of the pilot mentoring program in Sydney Water Utilities. The primary objective of their mentoring pilot is to provide an additional means of developing leadership skills in Utilities Executives participating in the Project Blue Chip Executive Development Program.

Gaye spoke about the background to the program, the communication of the program, the matching process, the training, the challenges faced, the evaluation of the program so far, and the critical success factors. The key points that she made for success were

  • voluntary participation in the program
  • voluntary matching
  • tenacity as 'coordinator'
  • the use of biodata to assist the matching process
  • agreement on a mentoree project
  • recall/evaluation at midpoint

Gaye also stressed the following two points

  1. Make sure that you have a back-up coordinator in case you're temporarily moved to special projects, are sick, or change jobs
  2. Remind mentorees to update their mentor as to what is happening, where they are at, and don't forget to acknowledge their help.

Thank you to Gaye for her most informative and interesting presentation and for the opportunity of having attendees' questions answered. Thank you also to those people who were able to attend this meeting and for your feedback that the meeting was of great value to you.

"Mentoring for Global Leadership" Conference
We are pleased to inform you about a powerful two-day, best-practices conference "Mentoring for Global Leadership: Strengthening the Bench with High Potentials". This workshop is being held on 12 & 13 May 1997, followed by two workshops on 14 May 1997. The venue for this event is Rosemont Suites O'Hare, 5500 North River Road, Rosemont, Chicago, USA.

Hear first-hand perspectives from Top HR Leaders on how they successfully

  • Link succession planning and executive development to corporate culture using the mentoring process
  • Make the transition to dramatically new ways of working, incorporating new leadership systems and procedures
  • Identify the qualifications of a good mentor and mentoree
  • Build on high potential employees' strengths to increase total organisational performance
  • Measure the effectiveness of the mentoring process
  • Conduct employee assessment and appraisals to determine high potentials and mentor candidates
  • Utilise powerful new products and services, third party involvement, coaching sessions and other innovative techniques to develop high potential employees and to ensure that these individuals grow with the organisation and its vision.

The fee for the conference and two workshops is US$1,895.00. For more information please ring The Growth Connection.

The role of the mentor versus the supervisor
This question was raised at our first mentoring network meeting and is frequently asked when setting up a formal mentor program. It is an important issue - if the differences between the roles are unclear, the supervisor may react to concerns that their authority is being impinged upon. The mentoree can feel they have a conflict in loyalty or even career security.

In some programs the supervisor is nominated as the mentor which can further confuse the roles. This is often the approach used where mentoring forms part of a graduate development scheme, but we do not recommend this method. It is essential to ensure that the roles of the mentor and supervisor are clearly communicated and understood before the mentor program is launched.

Although there may be some variations between mentor programs, the roles differ in most programs in the following areas: the supervisor is responsible for managing the on-the-job performance of the mentoree and the mentor is not involved in performance assessment/appraisal.

the supervisor has authority or 'positional power' over the mentoree. The mentor may guide, suggest, coach but does not use power to direct actions.

A primary aim in the mentoring relationship is for the mentoree to become independent of the mentor. The supervisor/employee relationship by its nature is interdependent.

The supervisor's perspective is on the meeting of short term targets and day to day work where the mentor will usually have a longer term, more strategic focus on the mentoree's development.

The mentor does not have a vested interest in the mentoree's progress but the supervisor will be much more subjective.

The Growth Connection mentor program research results so far are indicating that supervisors have sabotaged the mentor relationship in some cases where they have felt threatened or isolated from the mentor process. What steps can you take to prevent these difficulties from arising in your organisation?

Involve the supervisors in the mentoring program from the beginning, if possible in the planning stages through focus group participation. The Growth Connection experience has found this to be very helpful in designing a pilot program.

When the mentor program project plan is completed, hold specific briefing meetings for the supervisors of potential mentorees so that they can have their questions answered and understand the process and project milestones.

Build contact between the mentor and supervisor into the program as soon as the mentoree has selected them.

Invite supervisors to follow up mentoring meetings and in the ongoing evaluation of the program.

The mentoring coordinator should ensure they liaise regularly with the mentoree's supervisors.

Guide the mentorees to keep their supervisor informed of upcoming meetings, overall progress (without the need to break confidentiality agreements) and openly discuss their mentoring development along with other forms of skill and experience development.

The most successful mentoring programs have the full and active support of the supervisors and managers outside the mentor relationship. A real measure of success is that these supervisors volunteer to be mentors in the next mentoring program.

Case Study: Office of State Revenue
In this issue we look at one of the mentoring programs currently implemented at the Office of State Revenue. We spoke to Dianne Barden who is the Director of the Planning, Review Division.

When did your mentoring program commence ?
In August 1995.

What are the objectives of your mentoring program ?
To enhance the career prospects of OSR staff; to develop staff to become managers; to encourage and assist staff to gain the skills necessary for promotion; to develop otherwise unseen potential within the organisation; and to assist new managers and staff in development opportunities to gain skills.

How are mentors selected ?
Mentors are selected by their mentoree. Guidelines are given e.g. someone from whom you can learn, who is about 2 levels higher in the organisation, and not in your work area.

Do you have a program coordinator(s) ?
There is a steering committee for the pilot and it will be handed over to Staff Development when it is mainstreamed.

How do mentors and mentorees come together ?
Mentorees nominate to be on the program. They are selected by the steering committee on the basis of the reasons they give for wanting to participate. The mentor is then selected by the mentoree.

What mentor model(s) do you use ?
One on one.

Are mentors and mentorees trained ?
Yes, mentors and mentorees have two days training, 1 day together and 1 day separately. There are monthly meetings of mentors and mentorees separately, and a quarterly review of mentors and mentorees together.

Do they have a mentoring agreement ?
Yes, guidelines are provided for them to develop their own agreement.

What time frame does the mentoring relationship cover ?
Formally for twelve months - all mentors have indicated they expect the relationship to continue.

What role did Senior Management play in the program ?
We have had strong support from the Executive Director - he is also a mentor as am I and another Director.
I chair the steering committee and monthly meeting of mentors.

How did you communicate the program to the organisation ?
Fliers were distributed and an information session with the external consultant was held. Our internal journal carried stories in every edition.
At the spokeswomens annual information day the external consultant was a guest speaker, talking about mentoring.

What difficulties have arisen within the mentoring program ?
We have had very few difficulties. There was, however, some initial uncertainty about whether mentorees were getting unfair access to information if their mentor was very senior.

What elements have worked particularly well ?
The one-on-one nature of the relationship
The ability for the mentoring relationship to meet the needs of individuals
The approach taken by the consultant that this is a growth experience

What benefits have been derived from the program ?
Benefits include

  • Better communication - people are learning to talk one-on-one
  • Increased understanding of organisational issues
  • Needs of individuals being met in a very cost-effective way
  • It has brought a humaneness to the culture

Is there anything else about your program that you think would be helpful to others ?
In conjunction with this program, we offered a career development workshop to participants if they were interested. This was highly valued by the attendees.

We would like to hear about your experience with mentoring in your organisation so please send your contribution to
The Growth Connection
Email iwareing@growconnect.com.au

Book Review
Mentoring: How to Develop Successful Mentor Behaviours
by Gordon Shea.
This book lays a solid foundation for developing successful mentor behaviours. It enables the reader to identify and assess his or her own mentoring experiences - as mentor or mentoree and to use mentoring as an empowering tool for positive employee and personal development. The book also deals with the practical aspects of mentoring, ie. what makes mentoring special, assessing what the mentor is able and willing to invest in the relationship and the special opportunities and challenges of mentoring in various situations today and tomorrow - cross cultural, cross-gender and supervisor/employee mentoring.

The how-to-do-it sections of the book deal with understanding mentoree needs, positive mentor behaviours, behaviours to avoid and ways to make the most of the mentor/mentoree relationship in the short and long run.

This publication can be used as an individual workbook for exploring mentoring, or as a series of pre- or post-exercises to supplement a course on mentoring. Many of the exercises provide a basis for classroom or small group discussion.

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