MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
This year the FTA is looking to use our enhanced member profiling to launch more targeted member initiatives. One of the first is a mentor program.
Feedback tells us many of our younger, pathway members are drawn to the FTA to join our community, connect with and learn from our senior members. And in turn, our senior members have indicated they’re just as keen to give back and assist the next generation as they navigate the challenges of the profession.
Sound like a win-win?
A quick disclaimer: I’m not an expert on mentoring. I know some people don’t have a positive view of it. And you might need more information to decide that it’s right for you.
Bernard Salt is not a fan. He recently posted on LinkedIn referencing a talk he did to Millennials at the Law Society:
“I’m not so keen on mentors…(example)… Your time in history is different to the proceeding generation’s time. Be your own person. Carve out your own pathway and back yourself early on in your career.”
Ok, Bernard’s a no. So, who is in favour of mentoring?
Organisations like the Finance Executives Institute (FEI) are big fans. They have a well-established mentor program with around 50 companies and over 60 mentees participating. And the president of FEI is none other than David Craig, CFO of the CBA. Many prominent CFOs are fellow FEI directors.
An organisation like this wouldn’t invest in a mentoring program if they didn’t see clear advantages.
They cite benefits from mentor programs include:
Growing your professional brand, building your leadership skills, helping others achieve.
Building self-confidence, learning different perspectives, developing new skills, gaining insight into new experiences, expanding networks.
And yet, there’s still a perception of programs and mentor relationships being a bit hit-and-miss. Where do things go wrong and is it possible to avoid them?
According to the Outperformer (an organisation providing career management tools for accounting professionals), a successful mentor/mentee relationship starts “with mentors being clear about the support they require”.
Discover clarity and context (know what you want and why)
Upfront, ask yourself these questions: “What is challenging you? What are you unclear about? What can a mentor help you solve?”
Knowing the answers to these questions upfront clarifies the goal of the relationship and helps the mentor understand the environment you’re trying to succeed in.
Next, check suitability.
Check the mentor is suitable for the role. How “qualified” are they? Have you ever had someone say to you, “I think X would make a great mentor for you, do you want me to put you in touch? Don’t let your choice of mentor happen over a few drinks on a Friday night.
Good mentor programs make sure mentors are qualified and have support tools to set them up for success. There is often a good correlation between seniority in the work place and suitability for a mentor role. Some of the most important attributes of mentors are leadership-based attributes (self-awareness, communication and listening skills, empathy) which are skills many high-level managers possess.
What about time?
You may wonder, if the objective is to get very senior, qualified mentors, aren’t these the very people that are at capacity and have no time to give?
For answer, got to the FEI website (https://www.fei.org.au/mentoring/88-fei-mentoring-program) and cast your eye down the list of mentors. These people are all senior executives with loads of responsibility and limited time. Yet they are all participating. Ultimately, these professionals make the time and prioritise accordingly. This ability has helped them in their career, now they can schedule time to help you.
For a busy professional, planning, prioritisation and balancing focus between work tasks and personal development are key success measures to career advancement. If your mentor can make time, surely you, several rungs down the ladder, can too?
Some participants experience programs or informal arrangements where things haven’t worked out. Sometimes commitment wanes and the arrangement dies.
A lack of commitment and follow through comes back to many of the items discussed above. Is there a clear purpose? Do both parties know why they are meeting and what’s expected of them both? Are they willing to make time to work together? Are structures in place to make sure both participants are focused and efficient when working together?
In other words, has the relationship been set up for success?
Ultimately, it’s you, the participant, that will be the judge. But the onus isn’t all on the mentee to make it work. You will also have considerable power over the success of your mentor/mentee relationship.
Do you have a view on this topic? We would love to hear from you if you do.
Essential Treasurer and Fundamentals of Treasury Operations
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Essential Treasurer. Especially thanks to Geoff Rooney, who did a fabulous job facilitating the sessions right across the country (and Tasman), and our guest presenters and sponsors.
As usual, your feedback is important. Please tell us what you liked and what could be improved.
For those of you booked for the upcoming Fundamentals of Treasury Operations, we have an exciting content and format for you this year. We hope you get value out of the sessions. If you haven’t booked yet, it’s on May 12th in Sydney and there’s still time to secure a spot. Visit our website: https://financetreasury.com.au/fundamentalsconference2017/
2017 FTA Conference
Don’t forget that early bird registrations are now open for this year’s FTA annual conference, 30 Years and Beyond – Managing Risk in the New World.
Mike Christensen FFTP