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Mentoring Connections Newsletter
January 1998

In this issue

Welcome to the first 1998 Newsletter

1997 was an exciting year for The Growth Connection and saw our consultants design and implement eleven pilot mentoring programs. We also commenced our new Executive Mentoring Service aimed at one to one coaching in specialist skills areas.

We are especially proud that the Mentoring Connections Network continued to meet regularly and we offer this avenue of shared mentoring expertise and practical experience to our members free of charge.

Interest in the network continues to grow and the newsletter is now circulated overseas as well as across Australia.

Imogen Wareing
Principal
The Growth Connection Pty Ltd
iwareing@growconnect.com.au

December Meeting

In our December meeting, our other speaker and welcome guest was Paul Russell, Training Manager from the Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of NSW.

The Association piloted a mentoring model where potential mentors and mentorees could be regarded as competitors; yet saw the need to lift skills across the industry.

Paul summarised their approach, conclusions and plans for the next phase of mentoring. He outlined the purpose of the R&CIA in supporting the catering / hospitality industry primarily through access to information, training, advice on industrial relations matters and representing members to lobby for the industry.

Partial funding for mentoring was provided by the State Government and a two day training program conducted for all volunteer mentors and mentorees.

Time away from their small businesses was a particular issue for this pilot and more mentors than mentorees made themselves available. Mentorees were drawn from Association members with less than one year in their business and who often had less than five employees.

Interestingly, one of the most successful relationships was between two caterers, reducing concerns about competitive problems.

Where mentors and mentorees found time to meet, feedback was very positive.

"The mentoring program adds direction and develops skills as well as enabling mentors to help others in a supported and more structured way" Paul said.

The R&CIA has therefore decided to continue with a mentoring program. They plan to amalgamate with the Hunter Region and widen the pool of mentors and mentorees by opening up the criteria to anyone who wishes to participate.

No time frame for the program will be set so that the relationships have longer to develop (and more time to meet) and groups of up to ten pairs at a time will be aimed for.

Amongst seasonal greetings, the December meeting requested topics for our next meeting and agreed that future newsletters would be two pages so they can be produced more frequently. The Growth Connection team wish you all a wonderful new year.

Imogen Wareing

Hands on Mentoring Instruments at our October Meeting

The October meeting gave network members the opportunity to try out some of the instruments used in mentoring workshops and evaluation. Many people are familiar with the Knowdell Values Card Sort: participants also experienced the Collard's Work Value Card Sort.

MindGarden granted us the opportunity to pilot the new Linda Phillips-Jones 360o feedback mentoring/coaching skills assessment. Mentoring Connections members took the questionnaire away for mentorees and/or direct reports to fill in as well as themselves and Imogen took the completed questionnaires to California for analysis.

The software produced a feedback report and graphed comparisons which were kept confidential to the contributors and returned sealed in November.

The report of the recipients' evaluation of the instrument for potential use in Australian programs was compiled by The Growth Connection and circulated at December's meeting. Copies are available on request.

The Mentor Skills Assessment Instrument is now available through The Growth Connection.

Mentoring in South Africa

In August's network meeting, Paul Stevens, Director of Worklife, shared his experiences from several consultancy visits to South Africa during 1997.

Within a large power utility of 39,000 employees, a major internal marketing of career support is under way to assist the employees and in turn their society in the dramatic transition occurring there. Paul illustrated many approaches being taken.

One in particular is innovative: fifty five members of staff, so far - most of whom do not have HRM backgrounds but are from the operating divisions - have participated in a five day residential training to become internal worklife mentor/coaches.

They were selected on the basis of their personal values for which Collards' Work Value Drive Card sort was used.

Now equipped with "invitations to talk to me" on specially designed sweat shirts, the mentor/coaches provide an on-the-spot mentoring service to any employee who approaches them where they work, or in the cafeteria, corridors, car park etc.

A further facility is a dramatically themed and colourful self-help Worklife Career Resource Centre. It is designed on a self-help workstation concept based around each stage of the Stevens Model of Transitioning which is part of The Worklife Career Development Methodology.

Paul returns soon to measure results to date and to design mobile career services on some of the organisation's fleet buses so that the mentoring service can be extended to power stations in remote locations.

Executive Coaching

For me, one of the highlights of the 1997 International Career Development Conference, Imogen Wareing and myself attended, in San Jose, California was a seminar delivered by Robert Oberlander, Ph.D. from Lee Hecht Harrison. It was entitled "Leader or Loser: Executive Coaching, A Critical Difference".

Individual coaching and mentoring is becoming an accepted development pathway in many organisations. Why? Robert said the rationale can come from the circumstance of :

  • Executives having management gaps, limited experience or limited managerial education, and/or
  • Organisations having limited time to coach and mentor; growing too rapidly or promoting people too fast for their true knowledge/skills to keep up; not taking time to reflect, set vision or direction.

The structure of a typical executive coaching program usually is much like this:

  • Conduct a needs analysis to determine what the problems are, from both the company's and the individual's perspective
  • Conduct psychological assessment of the individual (including the use of MBTI and 360 degree feedback mechanisms)
  • Agree the learning/coaching objectives and contract a program for achieving them
  • Implement coaching (usually over 6 months).

Robert used a number of models to explain corporate mentality and its effect on individuals, building trust, creating a healthy organisation through empowerment and a three-part dynamic empowerment system.

However, there were three key things he said which have stuck in my mind and which, I think, encapsulate the value of executive coaching:

  • It is entirely possible for the mental health of a whole company to drop en masse from the optimum, self-actualised level ("great company, great job, we're all having fun") down through four lower phases, which roughly equate to Maslow's Hierarchy, to as low as the survival level (heavy stress, anger and a negative / neurotic atmosphere.) Once this happens, however, going back up through the hierarchy cannot be done en masse: rather it is a matter of individuals, one at a time finding their own recommitment to the organisation.
  • All good actions, including those made in a business environment are based on quality reflection. Today's businesses; however tend to bias their reward systems in favour or action-oriented people, the ones who visibly, tangibly "get things done". As a result, many senior executives have lost (or never developed) their inward analysis skills, and need help to become more reflective, in order to see what they don't see now.
  • Traditional management training, by the nature of its classroom-based style, must be generic. This means that the different issues faced by individual managers are rarely addressed in enough depth; managers find they cannot immediately use the learning for solving their own problems.
Usually they need to re-think the theory and develop an appropriate application which is relevant to their own situation - and this takes time they do not have! A more streamlined, targeted approach to their specific needs is required.

Executive coaching is an admirable tool because it takes cognisance of exactly these three constraints experienced by today's busy executives. It builds an objective, challenging, helpful and confidential relationship where senior people can build or re-polish the skills that were overlooked, lost or tarnished on their climb up the corporate ladder.

Sandra O'Neil

New Executive Mentoring Service

The Growth Connection provides a confidential one to one Executive Mentoring Service to our clients. Our highly qualified group of corporate consultants and counsellors assist with a range of support in a planned program, tailored to suit skills needs. The program may include strategic and business skills, media presentation, high level communication and conflict resolution skills, career management, complex problem solving, personal support.

Call us on +61 (0)2 9954 3322 for more details of this service.

Book Review

The New Mentors & Proteges
reviewed by John Matthews

This is an updated version of Dr Linda Phillips-Jones 1982 original edition which tells you how to acquire and manage today's mentoring relationships.

She tells you how to find mentors, become an effective mentor yourself, and offers tips for initiating a formal mentoring program within your organisation.

What's new is Chapter 1 which highlights developments in mentoring since the early 80s; Chapter 8 which outlines some of the emerging protocol for these relationships and Chapter 11 which offers new observations regarding planned mentoring in organisations.

One of the things that hasn't changed is that there is still no ideal word adopted to describe the persons helped by mentors.

So, don't judge this one by its title - it's a good read!

New Mentors & Proteges by Linda Phillips-Jones Ph.D. is published by CCC and is available from
The Growth Connection
Tel: +61 (0)2 9954 3322
Fax: +61 (0)2 9954 3442
email: iwareing@growconnect.com.au

Other Mentoring Support Resources

1.Skills for Successful Mentoring
This fourteen page A4 booklet includes the core competencies of Mentors and Mentees among much sound advice, plus a very useful self-assessment worksheet.

2. Planning, Implementing and Evaluating a Successful Mentoring Program: a checklist of critical tasks
A 65 point checklist of critical tasks to ensure an effective program. A4 twelve pages.

3. Strategies for Getting the Mentoring You Need
A fourteen page A4 strategy booklet which details the best practices of successful mentees. In straightforward fashion, the author spells out what that individual needs to do to gain the support from their mentor relationships.


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