Have you considered becoming a mentor? Or are you looking for some extra career support? HR consultant Sandra Black and her mentee Kim Mannering of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress talk about their success with the AHRI mentoring program.
Mentor: Sandra Black
Current job title: HR consultant
Q. Tell us about your career history.
I’m currently working on a number of contracts and projects, including investigations and HR set-up for small businesses. I had previously been employed as an HR manager in various industries such as training, hospitality, retail and not-for-profit.
Q. Why did you decide to become a mentor?
In previous roles I had a team or junior HR staff and enjoyed passing on my experience and knowledge in order for them to build theirs. I had moved into a role where I had limited mentoring opportunities, so I decided to take on an official mentee, and was pleased I did.
Q. What have you learned from Kim?
I have learnt so much from Kim. Because she was so enthusiastic at each catch-up meeting, I was able to enter into each conversation fully, and mentally leave behind the long list of tasks still to do. I looked forward to each meeting because it was like catching up with a friend, but discussing issues and concerns at work and working through some options for resolution. Kim also reminded me of the importance of preparation and organisation. She came to each meeting very prepared with a list of discussion points, which kept us on track.
Q. What do you hope Kim has taken away from the mentoring experience?
I hope Kim felt a level of support and learnt that resolution of workplace issues takes a clear head, and that sometimes discussions with others confirms you knew the answer. You just need confirmation you are on the right track.
Q. What are your recommendations for mentees to get the most out of the experience?
Be prepared and be open – admit to your mentor your fears and concerns in situations, as this will assist with an open, honest dialogue that will help develop the best possible outcomes.
Mentee: Kim Mannering
Current job title: general manager of HR, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
Q. What have you gained from the mentoring experience?
Receiving support and advice from a highly experienced HR professional has been invaluable through a significant career transition. My mentor and I have developed a solid relationship, which has continued after the conclusion of the formal AHRI mentoring program.
Q. What’s the most important lesson you have taken away from the experience?
That the most valuable opportunities for growth come from experience. Regular self-reflection and having your views or actions challenged by your mentor, who is independent of a situation, lets you maximise your learning from these key events. I continue to apply this approach to my own development and through coaching others.
Q. Tell us about your first session with Sandra.
We discussed each other’s professional background and got a sense of what made each other tick and the common ground, and set up our expectations and goals for the programs. I remember being instantly inspired by the reason my mentor entered the profession, and this set the tone for the start of our relationship.
Q. How often did you meet after that?
Approximately once a month, or more frequently if we felt we needed to spend some more time on a particular item.
Q. What is your dream HR job?
Anything that offers an opportunity to solve the big challenges for an organisation when it comes to its people.
Q. What advice would you give a mentee completing the program?
Sign up for the next intake – you won’t regret it! Take the lead early in setting up expectations of how the relationship should work and what you want to achieve. A structured approach to the program and meetings enables both the mentor and the mentee to be of most value.
For regional or remote-based HR professionals, seeking a mentor outside your geographical area is a great way to get a different perspective. If possible, try to have at least one face-to-face meeting early in the program, and video conferencing or phone work is great for the remainder of the meetings.
Remote HR professionals have so much to gain from the program, including expanding networks in ways that may not be available in your local area or within the range of expertise in smaller organisations.
Applications for the first intake of 2015 closes 1 March. To register or find out more information, visit the AHRI website.