Per­sonal coaches

Hav­ing ac­cess to a good men­tor is more im­por­tant than ever to achieve suc­cess, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin re­ports.

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WORK­ERS in­creas­ingly are seek­ing out men­tors to learn to cope with work pres­sures and po­si­tion them­selves for op­por­tu­ni­ties to give them a per­son­alised edge in the work­force.

Data from Lead­er­ship Man­age­ment Aus­trala­sia’s A Decade of L.E.A.D. Look­ing For­ward, Look­ing Back re­port re­veals men­tor­ing is on the rise.

It re­veals 54 per cent of em­ploy­ees have a men­tor, up from 39 per cent in 2006.

Nine out of 10 lead­ers acted as a men­tor in 2010, an in­crease from eight out of 10 in 2001, and more than a third (37 per cent) feel a great deal of in­creased de­mand on them to act as a men­tor or coach.

The re­port finds the rise of flat man­age­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions be­tween 2000 and 2010 ini­tially re­duced men­tor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties but a resur­gence is oc­cur­ring.

‘‘The in­creas­ing preva­lence of men­tor­ing and coach­ing in our work­places ap­pears to have stemmed from an in­crease in man­agers and lead­ers them­selves be­ing men­tored or coached,’’ it says.

‘‘Man­agers and lead­ers who have been coached or men­tored ap­pear to be ap­ply­ing men­tor­ing or coach­ing re­la­tion­ships with their own staff. And, over time, out­comes are im­prov­ing, even with the ex­tra de­mand this can place on the man­ager’s or leader’s time.’’

Ca­reer man­age­ment and tran­si­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion Don­ing­ton (SA) gen­eral man­ager Michelle Bent­ley says men­tor­ing can en­er­gise and mo­ti­vate in ways which tra­di­tional train­ing pro­grams do not.

‘‘Tak­ing some­one ‘un­der your wing’ and guid­ing them through chal­leng­ing times or in­spir­ing them to higher lev­els of un­der­stand­ing or per­for­mance, or work­ing with them on spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties or prob­lems, is likely to have been around since hu­mans con­gre­gated in fam­ily groups and com­mu­ni­ties,’’ she says.

‘‘But in to­day’s mod­ern world; fast-paced, dom­i­nated by com­puter/elec­tronic-driven func­tions and forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, with vir­tual work­sites and so­cial net­work­ing . . . the con­cept of men­tor­ing is be­com­ing more im­por­tant than in pre­vi­ous decades.’’

She says the pri­mary ob­jec­tive of men­tor­ing for work of­ten is to en­hance an in­di­vid­ual’s per­for­mance, pro­duc­tiv­ity, ca­reer po­si­tion­ing and op­por­tu­ni­ties, by build­ing con­fi­dence and self-es­teem.

Men­tor­ing usu­ally is a part­ner­ship, whether in­for­mal and ad hoc or for­mal and struc­tured, in which the men­tor shares their wis­dom and knowl­edge with their mentee about work, events, tasks or progress.

Men­tors may be fam­ily mem­bers, teach­ers, busi­ness col­leagues, lead­ers, ei­ther work­ing or re­tired, and can be gained through a pro­fes­sional or per­sonal as­so­ci­a­tion.

The LMA re­port re­veals the top five ben­e­fits which em­ploy­ees feel they re­ceive from men­tor­ing are an em­pow­er­ment to im­prove their per­for­mance and pro­duc­tiv­ity; a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how to man­age peo­ple, skills and re­sources; en­cour­age­ment to learn; self-de­vel­op­ment and help to set busi­ness ob­jec­tives and goals.

Lead­ers agree, say­ing it also brings to em­ploy­ees a greater sense of own­er­ship and pride in their work and strength­ens re­la­tion­ships.

The Univer­sity of South Aus­tralia’s School of Man­age­ment is an ex­am­ple of a struc­tured yet flex­i­ble men­tor­ing pro­gram.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Part­ners Pro­gramme (EPP), in­tro­duced this year, aims to en­rich the school’s aca­demic pro­grams by pro­vid­ing high-achiev­ing, post­grad­u­ate stu­dents with in­dus­try in­sights from an ex­ec­u­tive part­ner who is associated with the school.

The ex­ec­u­tive part­ners are ac­tive, semi-re­tired or re­cently re­tired se­nior ex­ec­u­tives who link the stu­dent’s aca­demic learn­ing to the busi­ness world.

Ms Bent­ley, who men­tors Justin No­ble and Vicki Beard through the EPP, says mentees must be matched with a suit­able men­tor.

‘‘This one-on-one ap­proach is per­son­alised and tai­lored to each mentee,’’ she says.

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