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State Rail Train Crewing Pilot Mentoring Program

A Live Mentoring Case Study - State Rail Authority of N.S.W. (Australia)

 

Analysis of the Pilot Mentoring Program

The Pilot Mentoring Program was measured against the Mission and Objectives that could be assessed during the time frame. Informal feedback, along with suggested improvements, remained extremely positive.

The following analysis is taken from monitoring the follow-up telephone calls and focus groups, the midpoint workshop, and final evaluation of the Pilot program from questionnaires completed by School 9/97 (Group 1) and 10/97 (Group 2). Percentages quoted are from these more comprehensive questionnaire responses.

Bar charts of responses to specific questions are provided where relevant. The full analysis of the questionnaires was provided to Train Crewing Management in the form of four detailed reports.

Additional comparisons with previous Guard Schools have also been included in the pilot assessment.

Interest in the Mentoring Program across State Rail and within Train Crewing continued to grow. The initial reaction, especially from some "old hands" was cynicism. Informal feedback indicated that the visible success of the two pilot groups was spreading a positive attitude across Train Crewing with an expressed desire for a trainee driver's program and one for established staff.

Some indicative comments from mentors about feedback from other guards and drivers about the mentoring program were:

  • "Some still think it's a waste of time and money, others think it's great."
  • "Drivers have commented how well adjusted the new guards are."
  • "Positive feedback - some want to become mentors to new guards."

Some typical comments from mentors about gains from being a mentor in the program were:

  • "Have become more aware of the needs of new guards."
  • "People skills increased by 100%."
  • "Boosted my own self confidence and have learnt from my mentoree."
  • "Gained a greater awareness of my responsibilities."
  • "Ability to pass on my skills and experience."
  • "A great program and all have learnt a great deal."
  • "Time spent very constructive."
  • "To be able to help makes you feel good."

The majority of the mentors (92%) in Group 1, 73% in Group 2 rated the program useful to very useful and all in both groups but one indicated they wanted to continue being mentors. All the mentors indicated they observed positive changes in their mentorees. The changes noted included improved technical knowledge, higher levels of confidence and improved work competence and friendliness.

chart1

Some typical comments from the mentorees on what they gained from the program were:

  • "Good relationship, confidence and security in a new (work) environment."
  • "Knowledge that there are committed people there to help."
  • "Confidence in dealing with the hierarchy."
  • "Confidence and friendly faces to help." (four people)
  • "Support system/adviser."
  • "Further knowledge of safe working, most of all a great friend."
  • "Introduced to experts on time sheets, pay and safe working procedures."

All the mentorees (100%) in both groups stated they benefited in some way from the mentoring program. These gains included confidence, skills, trust, understanding and a network of contacts and friends. Additional gains were often made which were less expected. One mentoree when asked said "my mentor fixed my stereo" and another has been taught to play the guitar by his mentor !

chart2

Factors contributing to the success of the pilot are covered further in "Success Factors of the Pilot Program". Primary credit must go the commitment and generosity of the volunteer mentors, enthusiastic mentorees and a supportive management and unions. Train Crewing was congratulated for applying the resources and effort to create a positive model for other parts of State Rail to follow.

Comparisons With Previous Guard Schools With No Mentoring Program
An initial comparison with the two previous Guard Schools for 1997 showed a promising improvement on a number of measures. They indicated more productive and informed Trainee Guards in their initial months in the job.

When asked if they perceived any difference between Schools 9 and 10 and previous schools without formal mentors, 92% of Group 1 mentors and 64% of Group 2 mentors (18% unsure) reported a positive difference.

Most comments referred to more confidence shown by Trainee Guards in Schools 9 and 10/97. Other typical comments included:

  • "They mix better."
  • "Seem more eager to learn and comfortable about asking questions."
  • "Guards with mentors learn more."
  • "This group seems to be more relaxed."

First Six Months of Employment showed:
Schools 9 & 10/97
(with mentoring program)
Schools 7 & 8/97
(no mentoring program)
No. Trainee Guards
33
No. Trainee Guards
25
Absenteeism
40
1.21 days/employee
Absenteeism
61
2.65 days/employee
Exits after 6 months
0
Exits after 6 months
2
Career direction/
Understanding
Career direction/
Understanding

(Source: 1996 State Rail Survey,
All Staff)
46% (Group 1)
64% (Group 2)
10%
Discipline
1 counselling session
Discipline
3 counselling sessions
1 fine
1 one day suspension
*Commendations
3
Commendations
1


Comparison between Pilot Mentoring Program New Guards and previous two schools (up to Monday 25 January).

Schools 9 & 10/97
(with mentoring program)
Schools 7 & 8/97
(no mentoring program)
No. Trainee Guards
25
No. Trainee Guards
 
Absenteeism
76 days
2.3 days/employee
Absenteeism
91
3.64 days/employee
Exits after 6 months
0
Exits after 6 months
3
Career direction/
Understanding
Career direction/
Understanding

(Source: 1996 State Rail Survey,
All Staff)
57% (Group 1)
71% (Group 2)
25%
Discipline
2 counselling session
Discipline
7 counselling sessions
3 fines
2 one day suspensions
*Commendations
2
Commendations
 
*Commendations are difficult to quantify as passengers often do not give sufficient detail
to identify the Guard.   Source: Train Crewing Human Resources records - Mark Andrews.

The significant benefits of the mentoring program were the increases in the areas of career direction and understanding together, a dramatic decrease of counselling sessions and no fines or suspensions. As with the previous mentoring pilot there were no exits.

 

Move on to the next section of this article:
Pilot Mission Achieved

 

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