Biases and preconceptions. We all have them. At times it takes an objective view – perhaps through a mentor – to challenge your assumptions because who knows what great things we can achieve once we broaden our perspective?
It’s a valuable lesson that Human Resources Manager for Universities Admission Centre (UAC), Jennie Edwards MIML gained when she was teamed up with Clariti Group’s CEO, Belinda-Jane Dolan CMgr FIML.
Edwards became a mentee through IML ANZ’s mentoring program to complete the Intentional Leadership™: Accelerate course. Trying out Accelerate to see whether other managers at UAC would benefit from it, Edwards was drawn by the inclusion of a mentoring component in the program. Being an HR professional, she knew that having a trusted mentor does wonders to the development of managers and leaders.
And she wasn’t disappointed once she was paired with Dolan. “Belinda was very generous with her time. I’m so grateful because instead of having monthly catch-ups, we always met fortnightly,” Edwards recalls.
It was time well spent indeed for Edwards. Through Dolan’s guidance, the human resources manager was able to work on her self-confidence. Mentoring contributed to a boost in Edwards’s self-belief, her desire to look after her wellbeing, and her confidence in taking some risks.
Mentoring: a relationship built on trust
Being a mentor is all about seizing a fantastic opportunity to be part of another professional’s development journey for Dolan. How does she approach each pairing? She starts with a clean slate and focuses on the mentee and what they need to develop.
“Like with all successful relationships, the important factor should be ‘how can we collaborate?’ and then that relationship can be incredibly empowering.”
The Clariti Group CEO and Chartered Manager also believes that mentors take on a position of both responsibility and privilege. This is a role that’s become especially crucial today when challenges to the traditional model of face-to-face work abound. Indeed, Dolan sees mentors playing a huge role during this shift. “With the distributed workforces that we have, mentoring is definitely an imperative. People need to have the types of conversations that happen within mentoring to support and build psychologically safe workplaces. I genuinely believe that having someone you can talk to who can be objective about the tough situations you face is a powerful resource for managers and leaders.”
Changing assumptions and gaining lifelong lessons
The result of both mentee and mentor committing to the partnership? Both took away lessons for life. “Belinda was able to help me reframe the way I view things. Even simple things like the words I use. She left me with techniques that I’ll keep going back to and reflecting on,” says Edwards.
Being able to rethink terminology and thus change your perspective on things is a step Dolan believes leads to better mental wellbeing for managers like Edwards. “We don’t talk about being busy. We strike that word out,” Dolan explains. “Because we are both engaged in our work and actively pursuing these projects that require our attention. It’s about challenging our assumptions and questioning what we should be putting at the forefront of what we do as leaders.”
However, as with any good mentoring partnership, it’s not just the mentee who leaves with lessons learned. The experience is often equally rewarding for the mentor too. “As a mentor, we also increase our skill levels. We’re given this opportunity to go back and reflect on what we know and teach that to others,” says Dolan. The pair continues to stay in touch even after their formal partnership has ended. Bonded by their experience and shared passions, they recommend mentoring for other managers and leaders who might want to see things through a different lens.
Become a mentor or mentee now
IML ANZ Members enjoy complimentary access to a 4-month mentoring program. If you’d like to become a mentor or would like to find one for yourself, visit our mentoring program page.