Top recruitment agency Hays has released a list of six tips to help builders be more effective mentees as they seek to develop their careers.
While the term is more commonly related to white collar careers, mentorship is crucial to ensuring career support and skill transference in Australia's building and construction industries. It's important to recognise that inter-generational expertise plays just as important a role in defining the future of these industries as any technology or policy ever can.
In the relationship between a mentor and their mentee, the role of the former is generally well understood by both parties. The same, however, can't be said of the mentee's duties. In fact, two-thirds of mentees are unsure of their responsibilities, according to research by Hays.
In a survey of 1253 Australians, only 35 percent said they fully recognised what was expected of them as mentees, 48 percent felt they had some understanding and 17 percent admitted to having no idea at all.
"Often people assume it’s the mentor who shoulders the responsibility of ensuring a successful outcome from a mentorship, but the reality is that the mentee has a greater obligation to make the relationship work – and has much more at stake," says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.
So what are these obligations and how can mentees ensure they are meeting them? Hays offers six tips to keep them on the right track.
- Respect the mentor's time. The vast majority of mentors volunteer their time to assist those looking to develop their skills and understanding of a position or industry. As such, it's important for the mentee to not only ensure they arrive on time to every meeting, but be willing to accomodate a mentor's schedule. Flexibility is key to generating the respect necessary in an effective mentoring relationship, as is the putting aside of egos if a mentor has to cancel on short notice.
- Communicate a purpose. The building and construction industries are complex. Anyone who has spent significant time working in them has a lot of knowledge to potentially share. What's important is that mentees understand what they want to know and are able to communicate that clearly so that nobody's time is wasted. "Your mentor is not a mind reader, so set and discuss your specific objectives and then arrive at each meeting with questions or an agenda aligned to your overall goal," says Deligiannis. One way a mentee can make sure their purpose is clear is by taking note of questions that arise throughout the work week so they can dive into them during the next meeting.
- Be prepared. As an extension of the above, it's important for mentees to be prepared for everything they want to discuss in a meeting. If, for instance, they want assistance with writing tenders, they should bring a draft copy along to make it easier for the mentor to understand what is working and what needs improvement.
- Use new skills. Knowledge is important, but it means nothing in the industry if mentees can't put it to good use. "Don’t waste your mentor’s time – and your own – by failing to put into practice the new skills they’ve shared with you," says Nick. It is through this practice that mentees improve and discover new questions and concerns to raise with their mentors.
- Provide feedback. The dynamic of a relationship between a mentor and mentee can make it difficult for the latter to raise feedback. It shouldn't. Mentors are just as invested in imparting the right knowledge clearly and effectively as a mentee is in receiving it. Mentees should be able to share examples of times where they have put the mentor's lessons into place and share both their experience and any further questions they might have.
- Seek out multiple mentors. Mentees who recognise the benefits of having multiple mentors are those who will make the most of these important relationships. "No one person is proficient in every skill or competency you want to master, so do not expect a mentor to provide guidance on topics outside their scope of expertise," says Nick. "Instead, have multiple mentors to cover all the areas you want to develop."
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