The Institute of Managers and Leaders’ Member Exchange mentoring program.
The four-month program is a fantastic opportunity for IML members to share their knowledge and skills, while giving something back.
Since the complimentary program’s inception four years ago, some 2,000 mentees have benefited from being paired with a mentor – a role which about 1,500 members have taken up, many several times.
Margot Smith FIML, General Manager, Membership – Strategy and Engagement at IML, says Member Exchange pairs up professionals from a broad range of industries, which can range from the resources, education, finance and not-for-profit sectors to name a few, to help with a range of career aspects.
“It could be for coaching purposes. For one person new to the workforce, they might need help enhancing their LinkedIn profile. For others, they might need advice about talking to their manager about a change in role and responsibilities. It could be a raft of things, but it is usually about general management and leadership development,” she says.
Smith explains the key competencies of being a mentor are listening, developing a mentee’s confidence and providing a different perspective.
“You are not there to give answers, you are there to coach and lead mentees to solutions,” she said. “It could be providing clarity with goal-setting if they are having difficulties. Or helping them to see a pathway if they are currently feeling blocked.”
The program requires contact between the mentor and mentee once or twice a month.
A desire for career development and an eagerness to learn are Smith’s top tips for mentees wanting to get the most from their mentoring experience.
“Don’t be shy about what you would like to get out of the program,” she adds. “You need to be mindful that the mentors are volunteers and that they are giving back. But your career development is no one’s responsibility but your own — so be hungry for management and leadership development. Take the mentor’s advice and run with it. And importantly, do any ‘homework’ recommended – whether it’s reading an article, freshening up your LinkedIn profile or catching up with someone new to your network.
“Make sure you are honest with yourself, that you are setting goals and challenging yourself to learn.”
An opportunity to give back was what spurred Barry Gordon CMgr FIML to share his wisdom and knowledge as a mentor. Impressed by his experiences, he recently completed a stint as a mentee.
Humbling, positive and rewarding are the words Barry Gordon uses to describe his involvement with Member Exchange.
Gordon, a contracts and compliance director with Transport for NSW, said volunteering as a mentor felt like an obligation he should meet.
As he puts it, “If you have achieved some positive outcomes in your life, it is up to you to give back to others who may be struggling.”
His two mentoring experiences involved coaching and guiding a young woman in taking over a family business, while the other stint saw him assist an engineering project manager in ways to secure project director roles, via help with cover letters and networking.
He has remained in touch with both mentees, and says seeing the positive changes to their careers was rewarding.
“I have had nice thank you emails and we’ve caught up for a meal and coffee to see how things are settling in,” he says. “It’s rewarding seeing posts on LinkedIn of past mentees’ achievements.”
The positive mentoring experiences led Gordon to consider how he could personally benefit from Member Exchange.
“I started to think, ‘what else can I learn from this and what is in it for me on the other side?’” he says. “I probably looked at it like, I am in the same boat as my mentees. I am in position ‘x’ and looking at what is position ‘y’ for me.”
He said his journey as a mentee helped with gaining a different perspective, while also providing him with a sounding board from his mentor; a semi-retiree who worked in consultancy.
Gordon believes Member Exchange is successful because it bridges a gap. “I have found, and certainly with the mentees I have been linked to, that there is just a big gap. People want help but don’t know where to get it,” he says. “These networks don’t necessarily exist in their day-to-day roles.
“As a mentee — reach out, there’s a powerful network of people in IML that are willing and able to help where possible. So make use of it.”
About the program:
• All IML individual members are eligible (excluding IMLa members).
• Apply via the website: managersandleaders.com.au/mentoring-program/mentees
• Mentees must provide information about what their objectives are. E.g. Career development, returning to the workforce after having children, assistance in
• For more information please email mentoringmanagersandleaders.com.au or phone 1300 661 061.