IN TOUCH: Michael Boyd-Clark on mentoring

Forty-five percent of the respondents to recent survey on NZIM’s Northern Region mentoring programme were not sure about mentoring. Why? The survey showed clearly that lack of information is the major inhibitor. Members suggested they are hesitant about signing up mainly because they don’t know enough about mentoring generally or about NZIM’s specific mentoring programme. As one respondent put it, “I’m not sure what I don’t know.”
Some members indicated being apprehensive about the process of mentoring, others worried about the time it would consume. One unexpected response suggested that some people may worry that mentoring by NZIM could put them at odds with their boss: “I am not sure how my manager would react to having someone external mentor me when it is supposed to be his role.”
Interestingly, it is women who tend to harbour uncertainties about mentoring. The survey revealed that men tend to be unequivocal; they want to be mentored, or they know that they don’t.
In relation to age, not surprisingly, the young indicated wish to be mentored while older members were not interested. Middle managers and those in the middle years displayed greater uncertainty than the junior and senior, and the younger and older members.
While the survey revealed high level of personal uncertainty about the process of mentoring, the vast majority of respondents believed that NZIM’s mentoring provides valuable and effective service.
But what of the perceptions of those who have participated in the service? “Lyrical” could be the way to describe the feedback from the vast majority of mentors and mentees.
As one mentee said: “I feel very privileged to be eligible for this service, and to have had the good fortune of being matched up with very supportive and sympathetic mentor. To have someone make time for me, take personal interest, listen and gently advise me has been an enormous support at challenging time in my life.”
If you wonder whether mentoring might benefit you, but you are not sure, contact NZIM for specific information to help you decide one way or the other.

• Michael Boyd-Clark is business consultant, coach and training facilitator. [email protected]

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