As business professionals, contrary to popular belief, we don’t always have the answer to every possible challenge that is thrown our way in our day-to-day job. This is especially the case when we’re just starting out in our careers.
That’s why it’s important to have someone to turn to, to help us and guide us through some of our challenging days at work.
Finding that someone, a colleague or a peer whose experience and guidance you can rely on can play a significant role in your overall success, both early on in your career and even late in your professional life.
A strong and trusted mentor can be that someone to provide you a with solid baseline of career support, someone who will keep you grounded, and someone who will help you develop self-awareness and insights into your goals throughout your entire career journey.
In 2018 the Institute piloted the Young Practitioners Mentoring Program, linking younger members with experienced professionals for a nine-month, structured mentoring relationship. 2019's program is now well underway.
We spoke with some of 2018's participants about their experience, and some of their advice for getting the most out of a mentoring relationship. We also provide some tips for both mentees and mentors, to help get the most out of a mentoring relationship.
What were the main benefits you saw in your mentoring relationship?
Amanda Kazacos, Senior Associate at King & Wood Mallesons, told us “The benefits of mentoring for me was meeting someone who's obviously amazing in their field. It's given me so much insight as to what's expected of a tax lawyer, what I can expect in the future in my career and providing me with really useful guidance in terms of how to progress my career. It has been incredibly beneficial."
Adam Crowley, a Partner with RSM Australia said “I worked with my mentor to set clearly defined goals of what I wanted to achieve, I am happy to say that just before the end of the program I achieved my goal, and it was a great experience to share that with my mentor."
Bryan Zemunik, one of our mentors and Business Director at Fremantle Herald said, “The benefit for me was personal satisfaction, as a human being, to try to coach and mentor someone young, trying to make their way in the world, and in the accounting profession.”
Professor Michael Walpole, Head of Tax and Business Law, UNSW Business School, another of our mentors told us “It gave me an insight into what it's like for a young professional coming through in our profession these days. Things have changed, and to understand what it's like now from their perspective, I can then use that in my work.”
What advice would you give mentees embarking on a mentoring relationship?
“You may find that the direction you thought you were going in at the start isn't the direction you want to go in a month or two months in. Be open to the possibility that you may want to explore in a different direction, or that you may change some of your goals or your timings because of that”, said mentor Christopher Hood, International Tax Consultant.
Paul Hockridge, Partner - Tax, at Mutual Trust, told us “Be open and frank about what troubles you because it's all together possible, someone else can help and as far as the mentors are concerned.”
Our top tips for mentees:
- Set clear objectives and be ready to discuss those at the beginning of the relationship
- As a mentee, you need to put in the work to get the most out of the relationship
- Come to meetings with mentor prepared with planned topics
- Balance the personal and professional relationship with your mentor
- Be open and honest with your mentor about your challenges and weaknesses
- Rely on your mentor for guidance, not answers
- Be open to feedback and willing to take it on board in your work
- Set aside time for the mentoring process and keep all scheduled appointments with your mentor and display professional behaviour.
Our top tips for mentors:
- Each mentoring relationship is different, it’s ultimately up to you and your mentee to determine how best to make the relationship work
- By providing advice, guidance and support to young members at the start of their career, your role is to help your mentee progress professionally and personally
- Establish open and honest communication and a forum for idea exchange
- Foster creativity and independence
- Help build self-confidence and offer encouragement
- Provide honest and timely feedback to your mentee
- Provide opportunities for the mentee to talk about concerns and ask questions
- Above all, listen.