Are Mentors born or made?
To be effective, Mentors need to be:
The list could go on, and embrace a number of other things, all of which would ensure that staff being developed in the workplace are getting the support and guidance they need. The big question is, how do organisations ensure that the people they are relying on to mentor other staff are doing the job properly?
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.
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, 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 which would last for at least one year 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 couple of months and provides practical experience in the process of mentoring along with the underpinning knowledge mentors require.
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.