Modern organisations rely heavily on the ability of their staff to provide training and support across a range of situations. A significant part of this support involves mentoring other people in the workplace.
Mentoring is a collaborative relationship between individuals where there is a mutual sharing of responsibility in helping a person achieve a developmental goal. It is used to assist someone at specific stages of their development and takes place over an agreed period of time. Workplace mentors serve an important role as a source of support and advice for people who are undertaking new responsibilities or going through transitions. It is a big responsibility, but how do organisations ensure that the people they are relying on to mentor other staff are able to carry out this crucial role?
In my own travels, I have visited many large and small companies and organisations operating in the forest industries where mentoring programs have been implemented. One thing that has impressed me is the ability of many people with no prior formal experience as a mentor, to be able to assume the role and provide a great service to their workplaces. On the flip side, I have seen people being pitched into this role who by their own admission, are quite lost.
One of the things these organisations had in common was an acknowledgement that mentoring could not be left to chance, and that even people with the right “qualities” needed some training to understand how the mentoring process works and what an individual can do to enhance their abilities to guide and support staff.
So, what are the options for training mentors? Many business courses both at the Higher Education and Vocational training level cover mentoring as part of staff development. This coverage ranges from the theoretical underpinnings right through to practical applications of skills and knowledge covered in the programs.
One of the most useful programs for mentors which has wide application across a range of industries is drawn from the TAE16 Training Package, which is part of the Vocational Education and Training framework. Within this package, there are a number of Skills Sets which enable people to study specific areas relevant to their immediate work needs.
One of these Skill Sets is known as the “Enterprise Trainer – Mentoring Skill Set” and covers areas of workplace instruction as well as the process of mentoring people over a period of time. It is useful in that it assumes that some training and coaching will also be involved in the mentoring activities. Information can be found at the following link:
The program requires participants to prepare a plan for a mentoring relationship and to undertake three one on one mentoring sessions with a mentee (the person being mentored) in the workplace who requires guidance and development. This is usually done over a period of a couple of months and provides practical experience in the process of mentoring along with the underpinning knowledge mentors require.
Some training providers offer programs based around this Skill Set. One such provider is Jindi Resources (0412081199) which has developed a work based approach which builds mentoring skills via participants acting as mentors to others and then reflecting on their performance with input from an external facilitator.
No matter how Mentors might get started, they will benefit greatly from undertaking further training to refine their approach and ensure their activities support the effective development of talent in their organisations.