The Impact of Mentoring at Jacobs
Mike Walkington is the Managing Director of Jacobs Australia (Jacobs). Here, Mike shares his thoughts on mentoring and the benefits he sees to both mentoring participants and the organisations they work for.
It is difficult to separate the concepts of mentoring and coaching.
I often ask people who teach mentoring what the difference is between the two, and invariably I get a different and adamant perspective each time I ask. The important thing is that both involve a conversation between someone who wants help and someone who can help.
Highly engaged employees and their supervisors create these conversations as the circumstances dictate – and sometimes the conversation would be recognised as a coaching conversation and sometimes as a mentoring conversation. The focus is often on the human skills – mindsets and behaviours – needed for future success.
The most critical ingredient to creating a useful conversation is trust. Both participants must be prepared to openly share confidential situations and their needs and perspectives. Trust takes time to build. This time is inherent in an employee and supervisor relationship but sometimes these relationships are constrained by other factors. And sometimes, the supervisor may not have the breadth of work or life experience to provide what their mentee is looking for. Accordingly, a company like Jacobs needs access to a range of mentoring approaches – be they internal or external – to bridge these gaps.
Jacobs is proud to participate in The Future Through Collaboration (TFTC) Mentoring Program coordinated by Kinexus. This program is focused on helping women in the Defence Sector learn from their peers and other highly experienced Defence Sector leaders. Being part of this program lets Jacobs provide our participants with access to a range of people with broader work/life experience than we can provide ourselves. The program is also structured to build the trust needed to support meaningful conversations.
At Jacobs, the benefits of mentoring accrue to everyone involved: mentor, mentee and the company.
In addition to the obvious benefits of receiving guidance on personal and professional development, and acquiring a range of new ideas and skills, mentees develop the confidence to participate in conversations at any level and with the right mentor, raise their profile within the company. Mentees also develop more aspirational personal views of how they can contribute.
Mentors get stretched; get to “make a return”; and in a fast-changing world, where it is easy “to be too old to understand”, through reverse mentoring, get a valuable opportunity to understand fresh perspectives, new ideas and approaches, and perhaps even learn some new digital techniques.
For Jacobs, mentoring demonstrates a genuine commitment to be an employer of choice and prepares the next generation to take over the business.
Mike Walkington AM