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State Rail Authority of N.S.W., Australia

A Live Mentoring Case Study


Strategy to Extend Mentoring Throughout State Rail

The Strategy to Extend Mentoring throughout State Rail that follows was signed off by both parties in 1999 and subsequently implemented. The strategic documents have been reproduced in full and provide a valuable insight into the roll out of the mentoring program across the entire organisation.

Integrated Process

Strategy to Establish

  Strategy To Extend Mentoring In State Rail

The Mentoring Strategy is to result in a consistent approach to mentoring which reflects the values and targets expressed in State Rail's Corporate Plan.

Phase 1 - New Recruits and people new to a position

Phase 2 - Managers & Supervisors/targeted existing staff

State Rail Mentor:

A career friend, a trusted guide and support who shares experience and skills to enable another to develop and grow.

Mentoring Program Mission Statement

The mentoring program aims to provide a supportive process to assist new staff to learn about their work, acquire critical skills and knowledge, and to adapt quickly into an enjoyable and successful Rail Career as well as to provide development opportunities for mentors.

Mentoring Program Objectives

  • To create a supportive network which ultimately leads to more effective teamwork and greater unity
  • To provide avenues for more positive feedback and encouragement to new and existing staff members
  • To provide new recruits with the opportunity for personal support, targeted skill development and career enhancement
  • To provide mentors with the opportunity to develop their skills and progress in their careers
  • To create a more equitable environment which attracts, retains and develops a diverse workforce
  • To eliminate the barriers and divisions within State Rail through honest and open communication
  • To provide increased job satisfaction, engendering a pride in the work performed and in the organisation to which we belong
  • To build working partnerships between mentors and mentorees which support and are supported by State Rail's workforce

To build an attendance culture through minimising feelings of stress and isolation for new recruits

Progress To Date:

The mentoring deliverables above continue to be achieved in the two train Crewing Pilots and subsequent three mentoring programs.

In order to replicate these results across State Rail, the following actions have been taken to develop this Strategy:

  • Focus Group of Business Unit HR Policy Managers
  • Information interviews with HR and Policy Managers
  • Planning meeting with relevant managers
  • Briefing updates with G.M. Employee Relations.

Content for mentoring strategy, priority areas, core principles and broad timetable have been agreed.

Flexible Implementation

  • Mentor numbers are driven by recruitment numbers. Actual monthly recruitment numbers are not fixed at this stage. The following initial decisions have been made to accommodate the variations:
  • Mentors will be trained in groups in advance of recruitment
  • The primary mentor model will move from one-to-one to group mentoring as each Business Unit becomes experienced with their program
  • Temporary Customer Service Attendants on stations will have a less formal 'buddy' system to learn the job quickly
  • New recruits who will stay on to replace retirees and voluntary redundancies will have mentors
  • Off the job activities such as Focus Groups and Mentoring Training will not commence until after the Easter Holidays i.e. 12 April 1999
  • All mentoring program design will work within operational needs
  • Experienced mentors and mentorees (from Train Crewing) will be drawn on to share their knowledge as much as possible in early implementation stages, including focus groups and workshops

Other Key Features of State Rail Strategy

Maximum Involvement: within sensible budgetary and timing constraints, as many key players as possible are involved in the customisation of the State Rail mentoring approach. This will build understanding, commitment and sustainability into Business Unit mentoring programs. Unions will be involved at an early stage.

Communication: internal communication will be continuous and include

  • articles in "Way To Go" (dedicated section)
  • updates in 'Career Options'
  • rewritten Mentoring Booklet
  • presentations
  • personal follow up by coordinators
  • publication of qualified mentors' names

External communication avenues will be utilised such as human resource/business journals, local and overseas conference presentations etc.

Reward and Recognition: Mentors who wish to progress will link into management/supervisor training and development programs.

A central 'mentoring book' is to be developed to publicise mentors.

Links to recognise mentors will be designed into the Performance Development Scheme. Opportunities will be provided for mentors and mentorees to present their experience to internal and external groups as appropriate.

External awards and recognition will be pursued where possible, e.g. local community media for Station Staff.

Monitoring & Reporting

Implementation will be complex with competing priorities and a number of new programs commencing at the same time. Coordination and communication will be essential. The Human Resource and Policy Managers will meet monthly to share learning, manage resource demands and ensure the smooth introduction of each program. Imogen Wareing and John Bonanno will liaise with key players as needed between meetings.

Imogen Wareing will produce a T.R.I.P. report the week following the coordination meetings, to feed into the subsequent "People" Executive Management Meetings.

As the Business Units pick up the mentoring programs themselves, this need for close management will decrease.

Development of Internal Mentoring Expertise

Support resources will be provided to inform State Rail employees about mentoring through the updated mentoring booklet. A core Program Coordinator's Guide will be written by the consultant and customised to Business Unit programs, together with standard forms, evaluation questionnaires etc.

Program coordinators will be trained in the process and after the first program will take over mentoring management.

The Growth Connection consultants will support the workshops with consistent experienced facilitation.

Agreed Principles

  • Mentoring programs based on Train Crewing's mentor program success factors
  • Core mentoring process + customise to Business Unit requirements
  • Focus on new recruits for 'First Wave'
  • New recruits defined as new to a classification
  • Mentors are volunteers
  • Must have core mentor profile/criteria
  • Mentors not to be in direct report line to mentorees
  • New recruits must have opportunity to select a mentor for first six months in job/new classification
  • Mentor programs are to develop both mentors and mentorees
  • Review and measurement mechanisms are built into every program
  • Mentor programs must be sustainable

Move on to the next section of this article: Mentoring Program - Status at June 2000


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