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Mentoring Connections Newsletter
April 1997

In this issue

Our first network meeting for the year was held on Thursday 27 February 1997. We were pleased to have two guest speakers - Jim Koukoumas (Senior Policy Officer - Department of Education) and Carlie Spencer (Portfolio Manager - Advisor of Women's Employment Issues - ODEOPE). Jim (formerly the EEO Coordinator at ABC TV) spoke about the need for a mentoring program at ABC TV, the challenges he faced implementing a mentoring program through a period of difficult change, and the outcomes of the pilot program. He covered the approach he used to convince Senior Management of the need for the program, and linked it with the overall strategic plan in his proposal. He stressed the importance of having commitment and support from Senior Management.

Carlie introduced a booklet she wrote called "Mentoring Made Easy - A Practical Guide for Managers." Other issues she talked about included visibility for women and EEO groups and that mentoring is one way to get them visibility. She also stressed the benefits of tying mentoring into a particular project to give focus, milestones and a structure.

Thank you to Jim and Carlie for their most informative presentations and for the opportunity of having attendees questions answered. Thank you also to those people who were able to attend this meeting. We will continue to have guest presenters at our network meetings in response to feedback that this is a valuable way to learn about mentoring and some of the challenges that face us in implementing a mentoring program.

If you would like a copy of ODEOPE's booklet please email us. iwareing@growconnect.com.au

How to Make Mentoring Work
Don't miss the How to Make Mentoring Work Workshop being facilitated by Margo Murray around Australia in May 1997.

Margo Murray is a leading researcher and practitioner with facilitated mentoring. Her bestseller book, 'Beyond The Myths and Magic of Mentoring' is a comprehensive publication on how to design and implement an effective mentoring process. It includes twenty years of research and client experience with her facilitated Mentoring Model. Her custom designed programs and published articles have won professional awards and White House recognition for excellence in the United States.

This workshop is for anyone with responsibility for performance improvement in their organisation - in management, human resources, planning and quality areas.

The workshop content includes:

  • Readiness Assessment
  • Mentoring Process Participant Roles
  • Coordinator/Facilitator Responsibilities
  • Performance & Productivity Benefits
  • Pitfalls & Preventative Actions

The workshop dates are
Melbourne - 1 May 1997
Canberra - 5 May 1997
Sydney - 6 May 1997
Brisbane - 7 May 1997

The Importance of a Dedicated Program Co-ordinator
by Imogen Wareing

I am often asked if a specific program coordinator is necessary and if so, what their role should be. Our recent world wide research and our own experience in implementing mentoring programs demonstrate that committing a person to be accountable for the program administration is essential to its success. This is especially true of a pilot mentoring program.

Problem areas
The most common problems that occur are:

  • the role is not clearly understood
  • the program coordinator is not given sufficient time to undertake the role
  • the same individual does not stay with the role due to turnover or other priorities

If you have already changed your program coordinator your mentor program could be at risk. Issues of selection of the program coordinator, back up in case of absence, defining the role and allocating time need to be decided in the planning stages of your pilot program. When considering the time demands, a rule of thumb is to double the time you think it will require !

The role of the program coordinator will vary according to your program objectives and organisational culture but will usually cover

  • "selling" the mentoring program
  • administration of the program
  • implementation of the program communication strategy
  • organising the pool of mentors and mentorees and their training
  • follow up with biodata and the matching process
  • removing road blocks
  • monitoring the mentoring relationships
  • sorting out difficulties mentors/mentorees may encounter
  • measurement and evaluation of the program

The time commitment is heaviest in the planning stages and first two months of the program. Once the mentors and mentorees have met two or three times the central managing role will reduce.

Selection of the program coordinator
Enthusiasm about mentoring is the most important criterion for selection. The program coordinator will often be chivvying people along to read material, write their biodata, make time to participate in training, persevere with their mentor/mentoree and so on. A constant positive and encouraging attitude is vital.

Other selection criteria are

  • organising ability
  • persuasiveness
  • self confidence
  • sensitivity
  • discretion
  • knowledgeable about mentoring
  • well regarded and well liked in the organisation

Enthusiasm about mentoring is the most important criterion for selection ... A constant positive and encouraging attitude is vital.

In some organisations, the level the program coordinator sits in the hierarchy is a consideration. Mentors are often at a senior level and need to be comfortable potentially sharing concerns about the mentoring relationships with the coordinator.

It is advisable to involve more than one person in the program coordinator's role to provide choice in who to contact and avoid being vulnerable to staff changes.

The program coordinator's role is highly visible throughout a pilot mentoring program and very rewarding for the individual when it succeeds. As having a mentoring program becomes part of the culture, the amount of coordination needed will lessen. However, some central administration and follow up will always be necessary to maintain momentum and ensure the organisation's and the participants needs are being met.

Mentoring Resources
The following resources on mentoring are available from The Growth Connection

  • Beyond The Myths and Magic of Mentoring by Margo Murray.
  • The Mentor's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • The Mentoree's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • The Mentoring Program Coordinator's Guide by Linda Phillips-Jones.
  • Mentoring: How to develop successful mentor behaviour by Gordon Shea.
  • Guidelines of Mentoring for Women published by NSW Ministry for the Status and Advancement of Women. Written by Imogen Wareing.

We can also provide access to a Mentoring/Coaching Skills Assessment (MCSA). The MCSA is an assessment and personalised feedback report designed to improve mentoring skills. This assessment includes a survey for the Mentor and three of their colleagues or mentorees to rate skills. The profile provides an objective assessment of the mentor by the colleagues/mentorees on nine skill areas and includes personalised tips to improve mentoring skills. It provides an effective link to ongoing staff development.

For more details, contact Imogen Wareing

Case Study - Education Queensland

We will aim to feature a mentoring case study in future issues of Making Mentoring Connections. In this issue we look at one of nine mentoring programs currently implemented at Education Queensland. Jan Alen has been involved in doing a great deal of work with women within Education Queensland. In this interview we cover one of their mentoring programs designed to develop women.

  • When did your mentoring program commence?
    In 1993.

  • What are the objectives of your mentoring program?
    To develop the skills and knowledge of women in education, to support informal networking as well as acknowledge the valuable skills women have to share with other women.

  • Who is your target group?
    Women aspiring to leadership positions, as well as indigenous and NESB women.

  • How are mentors selected?
    Mentors are self-nominated and encouraged to participate.

  • How do mentors and mentorees come together?
    We use a combination of the following: - mentoree chooses a mentor from the self-nominated pool of women; mentor chooses mentoree; and a mentoree specifies their needs, then an appropriate mentor is matched.

    Flexibility to meet women's needs is the key.

    Some mentors were selected by groups of women to be mentored in the skills or areas identified.

  • What mentor model(s) do you use?
    Again we use a combination to maximise success. The main mentoring models we use are one/one, one mentor/group of mentorees, and peer mentoring.

  • Are mentors and mentorees trained?
    Yes, mentors and mentorees are trained. They attend a two day program that covers areas like negotiation skills, listening skills, counselling skills, clarifying goals, developing mentoring agreements, and their role and responsibilities.

  • 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?
    This depends on the needs of the women - it could be anything from several weeks to one year. The formal part of the program is just the beginning for many women who have participated. Some of the relationships are still continuing in 1997, four years on.

  • What role did Senior Management play in the program?
    Senior Management endorsed the program as part of an effective EEO strategy for women.

  • How did you communicate the program to the organisation?
    The program was communicated through publications, association networks eg. AWE (Association of Women Educators), journals and the EEO Management Plan.

  • What difficulties have arisen within the mentoring program?
    Some difficulties that have arisen include the energy levels of some participants, some different expectations, and lack of time.

  • What elements have worked particularly well?
    The following elements have worked particularly well:
    Social and informal networks
    Professional development
    Provides a legitimate focus for women
    AWE support (Association of Women Educators)
    Outcomes for the women - expected and unexpected
    Changing of roles from mentoree to mentor

  • What benefits have been derived from the program?
    Benefits include:
    Increase in the number of women gaining promotion
    Provides a focus for women to learn from other women
    Collegial support
    Development of sustained women's networks

If you would like to share your experience of mentoring as a case study, or if you would like to write an article, please send your contribution to:

The Growth Connection
Suite 2
105 Mowbray Road,
Willoughby   N.S.W. 2068

or fax us on (02) 9967 2311 - International +61 2 9967 2311
or Email Imogen Wareing

How to Develop a Mentoring Program
by Nicola Grant

Some form of spontaneous mentoring takes place in most organisations, whether it is acknowledged or not. A formalised program helps harness it to the organisation's objectives. Properly managed, the program can enhance the benefits to individuals from informal mentoring and minimise the problems that arise when the informal system bypasses talented employees.

Each organisation needs to design a mentoring program that fits its particular company culture and answers the needs of its own employees. To ensure the success of the mentoring program, a company must be prepared to be flexible in its approach and be willing to assess continuously and, if necessary, modify the methods it has implemented (1).

Principles of how to develop a program

A number of principles can determine the success of a mentoring program (2).

The visible and articulated commitment of senior management, including CEOs, is essential. Senior Management needs to acknowledge the importance of mentoring to the organisation and help to promote the necessary commitment from mentors and mentorees as part of a bigger commitment to the development of staff.

Assessment of needs
The organisation must be clear about:

  • what is required from a mentoring program;
  • which groups, such as women, will be specifically targeted, why they should be and whether the selection will work against those who are not selected for the program;
  • what level of interpersonal skills exists in management;
  • what resources are available to support a mentoring program;
  • whether the existing culture provides an encouraging environment for mentoring and the changes required to provide this;
  • what other initiatives are in place to complement or hinder a mentoring program integration with other policies/programs/ management practices.

Mentoring programs rarely succeed when they stand alone. They must be seen as part of other human resources/management practices. Overseas experience places mentoring firmly within career development systems as an ongoing process. Other human resources policies within which mentoring needs to fit include recruitment, performance management, management development, workforce and succession planning.

Each organisation needs to design a mentoring program that fits its particular company culture and answers the needs of its own employees.

Formal program
Formal programs work best as informal programs tend to peter out. The best programs provide a formal structure and also as much choice as possible, i.e. who mentors whom, how they wish to work together, etc.

Open communication is vital. Everyone in the organisation, whether they participate in the mentoring program or not, needs to know what the program involves, how it will work, and why it is implemented.

Supervisors and managers whose staff will be mentored need special attention. They need to understand their role and how it compares and complements the mentor's role.

Ethics surrounding a mentoring program need special consideration and clarifying to the parties involved. Trust is a vital part of the mentoring relationship, so confidentiality must be guaranteed. Ways of dealing with conflicts of interest which may arise out of shared confidences need to be defined.

1. Clutterbuck, D. (1985) Everyone Needs a Mentor. R.J. Actford, Chichester
2. NSW Ministry for the Status and Advancement of Women (1994) Guidelines on Mentoring for Women. Written by Imogen Wareing.

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