The world of work can be a lonely place, so it’s good to have someone to talk to.
That’s why many large corporations have taken mentoring – formal and informal – to their hearts. And even if they’re not quite sure what value it’s providing, there is a feeling that it makes good business sense.
Peter Wilson, AHRI’s national president, says mentoring starts from the challenge of meeting your responsibilities at work but ultimately is about the total growth of an individual.
An insight into AHRI’s mentoring program
Since 2008 when AHRI’s mentoring scheme originated, more than 2000 mentees have participated in the year-long sessions – requirements are only that they hold a HR role and are members of AHRI.
Anne-Marie Dolan, development and research manager at AHRI and organiser of the mentoring program, says confidentiality is paramount and mentees are matched with mentors from different organisations who aren’t in competition with each other, and usually from different industries.
“We stay in close contact with them and generally only have a handful of partnerships that don’t work out, say five to 10 out of 150,” says Dolan.
“Success is measured by the fact that an evaluation service is performed mid-year and at the end of the program and we have consistently high responses.”
“Mentees report that the program provides a good sounding board. They may know the answers to their questions but getting it affirmed by someone outside the organisation gives them confidence before they go ahead and enact it. Secondly, it’s a chance to vent or debrief as well as an opportunity to discuss what’s happening in the organisation as well as outside it.”
“Several have said that it helped them to reconnect and allowed them to view HR through fresh eyes. Issues that newer practitioners were facing were things that they weren’t seeing in more senior roles. You sometimes lose sight of what you face in a more hands-on position.”
As an example of how mentoring schemes are evolving and responding to the world of work, AHRI is now exploring other mentoring options, such as targeting small businesses, graduates and peer mentoring.
Peer mentoring, in particular, has received a lot of attention of late. While it’s expected that executives will have a broader network of people beyond their own organisation who have different ideas about solving problems, nevertheless businesses are aware that to attract and nurture talented people mentoring should be part of what they offer.
“Peer mentoring is part of the new model of leadership where being able to talk to someone about complex leadership issues is seen as vital,” says AHRI national president Peter Wilson.
Tips on good mentoring
- Get to know each other in the early meetings because value alignment and level of comfort are important. Don’t be impatient and ensure that you’re dealing with someone you can trust.
- Be proactive in what you are trying to achieve and assess progress as you go along.
- As a mentor, do your homework. If you are dealing with bullying for example, give advice on tactics, how to stand up and get your job done, and feel better about yourself. Discuss what worked and what didn’t.
- Mentoring should have a lot of ‘ah ha’ moments when you get insights and see a challenge in a different light. For example, the aim may be to become a CEO and there may be a realisation that ‘it is not for me’. A minority don’t achieve their objectives but are happy with their conclusion.
- Know when to say goodbye. Most mentoring associations last between 12 to 18 months. In some instances mentor and mentee become intimate informal advisers for each other’s career after the scheme has closed.