The Treasurer’s definitive guide to mentoring

The ACT’s mentoring programme opens doors for mentors and mentees alike – providing both enter into it with an open mind, Louise Tatham explains

There are more than 50 definitions to describe what the term ‘mentoring’ may mean. At its very core, it is an informal relationship between an individual who has a specialist skill or knowledge (mentor) and an individual who would like to learn and would benefit from the mentor’s support (mentee).

Wikipedia defines mentoring like this: “Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).”

 Be clear on your objective and be open with your mentor on what your goals and apprehensions are 

The ACT’s Mentoring Scheme started a little over a year ago, and we held our inaugural Mentee and Mentor of the Year awards in September. Our scheme provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, best practice and open discussion, and we have seen many positive instances that highlight the benefits, as our winning mentor and mentee testify below.

If you are considering entering into a mentoring relationship, you need to think about your goals and objectives to ensure you focus on what matters. Although most relationships grow over time and can last many years, you are free to set short-term goals, which will enable you to celebrate accomplishments along the way.

Mentee of the Year

Raj March17 TT

Raj Balaraman

Senior manager, PwC
Balaraman was mentored by an experienced FCT member, based in Singapore.

Why did you decide to be mentored via the ACT’s Mentor Me scheme?
To be honest, it was a spontaneous decision when I read about this in an ACT email. Having benefited from coaching sessions in the past from my professional network within the firm, this was an excellent opportunity to get new perspective and inputs from someone senior outside my immediate network and benefit from their vast experience.

How has being mentored helped your career?
I sought my mentor’s inputs on my plan to transition to Asia from the UK. I received answers to my obvious questions on the work environment, clarified generic queries about the region and enhanced my motivation for the move, as well as the most important thing – contact with someone in the region even before I landed on the other side of the world. I am always thankful to the ACT mentoring initiative for enabling this.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the scheme?
Be clear on your objective and be open with your mentor on what your goals and apprehensions are.

Any tips for getting the most out of the mentoring relationship?
Identifying the right mentor is essential, choosing someone who aligns with the input you are seeking. It was relatively easy for me as my objective was transition to Asia, so I chose someone who had done this in the past.

You need to be proactive in setting the objective and identifying the best way to have regular conversations. Consider time-zone differences, suitable times for your mentor and the intent of the chat. Dropping a note in advance of every chat to remind them of the intent and the inputs you want to seek will help the mentor and yourself to focus on the intended outcome efficiently.

Mentor of the Year

Brian Welch Mar17 TT

Brian Welch

Director, The UserCare Treasury Consultancy
Welch mentored a bursary student who was based in Nairobi.

Why did you become a mentor via the ACT’s Mentor Me scheme?
Over my career, I have benefited from the advice of informal mentors. However, I do feel that a more formal and longer-term mentoring relationship may have been beneficial – especially from someone impartial. It was with this in mind that I put my name forward to be a mentor with the ACT.

What skills do you need to be a mentor?
You use all the skills you develop throughout your life – these can be professional skills, or wider life and career skills. The fact that the mentor has ‘been through it already’ means that they might be able to spot mistakes easily, and the mentee will be able to use this experience to come up with the best solution.

What have you gained through this mentoring experience?
My experience with the ACT scheme has been to ensure that you establish what both parties want and expect from the relationship early on – and to measure progress. It is critical that both the mentor and the mentee understand the relationship.

How did you approach your mentoring relationship?
The most important aspect was to ensure that both of us agreed on what we were going to achieve throughout the relationship. It was important for us to agree on the best way for me to support my mentee and we decided to focus on:

  • Progression with the ACT qualifications;
  • Progression with future job development;
  • Guidance on CV building, LinkedIn profiles and other social media; and
  • Acting as a confidential and independent ‘friend’, especially in relation to career plans and difficulties.

What has been the effect on your mentee?
My mentee has a new job, which really does sound exciting. I am really pleased that the support and advice I provided has been attributed to the success of them getting this new role. I’m really pleased to have been able to help.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of becoming a mentor?
It has been a very enjoyable process and I hope to keep in touch with my mentee for many years to come. I think that it is a very useful process to offer to younger members. My advice to potential mentors is to understand what both parties want from the relationship, to be honest and candid in your dialogue and to enjoy the experience.

Mentoring can be a great way to develop yourself. If you are a mentor or mentee, don’t forget to record this in your CPD record. Click here to find out more.

Five top tips for enhancing your mentoring skills

  1. Be yourself and be honest. As a mentor and mentee it is important to share your success stories and failures. Mistakes are often the biggest lessons in life.
  2. Listen. A good mentoring relationship is based on active, effective, focused and sensitive listening. If you are a mentor, putting yourself in the shoes of the mentee is vital for successful mentoring relationships. You need to be genuinely interested in your mentee as an individual. If you are a mentee, it is important to listen with patience and respect. You might not always agree with your mentor, but you should undertake to listen openly to what they say.
  3. Set realistic expectations according to your potential and your skills. Goals are achieved through a step-by-step process. Try to look at the professional challenges you might encounter and suggest ideas for overcoming them.
  4. Be responsible, reasonable and respectful. The values of trust and respect are essential for an effective mentoring relationship. Always be patient and polite. By being reasonable and transparent in your approach, you will build trust.
  5. Provide constructive feedback. This plays a key role in a healthy mentor-mentee relationship. As a mentor, giving a good balance of praise and constructive criticism is critical. As a mentee, it is important to provide your mentor with feedback, too – this is a two-way learning experience!

About the author

Louise Tatham is head of professional development at the ACT.

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This article was taken from the March 2017 issue of The Treasurer magazine. For more great insights, log in to view the full issue or sign up for eAffiliate membership

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