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