McCarthy Mentoring asked Kathleen Conlon, mentor and non-executive director, her thoughts on the value of mentoring, what she most enjoys about the experience and some of the common issues she is asked by mentees.
Value: The most valuable aspect of mentoring for the mentee is the ability to test their thinking and issues with someone who is outside of the company and is focused on their success. There are no politics and internal perceptions colouring the advice so it gives the mentee a completely free safe space to explore different issues and alternatives before taking action.
Most enjoy? The opportunity to listen very carefully and read between the lines to help my mentee identify and understand the real underlying issues. I find that my ability to reflect back what they have said usually gives them the clarity to resolve issues by themselves.
Most common issues asked? I find that mentees often have a few common issues. The first is how to best manage their direct boss to get an optimal outcome for their career and for their team. The second is the best way to create career opportunities across the organization through networking. The final one is a key business issue of how and when to deal with underperforming staff. This is a common concern and executives often need some support to make a decision early enough to confront and deal with a poorly performing staff member. These issues –managing up, down and across the organisation have remained the core ones in the many years that I have been mentoring.
Kathleen Conlon is a McCarthy Mentoring mentor as well as a non-executive director of The Benevolent Society, CSR, Lynas Corporation Ltd, Realestate.com.au and NSW President and national board member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ms Conlon was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for services to business leadership in 2003. She is a member of Chief Executive Women.