Mackay Regional Council
Strengthening leadership capability and building networks
When Alexandra Dobbins, Organisational Development Specialist for Mackay Regional Council, was tasked with supporting the regional and MRC strategies to develop people in the district into leadership roles, she knew creating connection across industry and setting up networks for the future was critical.
Mackay’s regional location, combined with the perception of few facilities as well as the enormous change occurring in the mining industry made it difficult for organisations to attract experienced leaders to the area.
“It’s challenging to plan strategically, when the most valuable resource, people, are the most complex dilemma,” said Dobbins.
Preparing the regional workforce for long-term success and sustainability required bringing together experienced professionals, new recruits, industry and government advocates to infiltrate regional knowledge and cultivate expertise.
Solution links industry across the region
In partnership with Resource Industry Network (RIN), Mackay Regional Council selected Art of Mentoring to implement a strategic mentoring program to develop local leaders.
The goal of the Mackay Mentoring Program is to develop and support the growth of leaders by connecting them across regional industry. The strong influence of the mining industry on the local economy meant that an alliance between RIN, representing leaders from all aspects of mining, its support services and MRC was crucial to opening conversations about the future direction of the region and its resources.
Program builds network of leadership professionals
The Mackay Mentoring Program supports current and aspiring managers, leaders of regional industries and local government to build a network of leadership professionals. Participants are encouraged to share and reflect on professional life in a confidential and non–judgemental environment.
Mentees can explore their careers and skills within a mutually beneficial developmental relationship.
Mackay Regional Council chose to manage the program internally, using the structured framework, training resources, software and support provided by Art of Mentoring.
As recommended by Art of Mentoring, MRC and RIN executed their program with face-to-face formal opening and closing functions, to build momentum and camaraderie from the beginning right through to the end.
To enhance the expected benefits structured mentoring can bring, the Mackay Mentoring Network recruited two cohorts across 2019. MRC and RIN took advantage of the Art of Mentoring Professional Plan enabling access to mentor and mentee online training, a suite of educational resources and communication templates to build and support participants throughout the program.
Participants answered a range of questions to determine the best mentoring match. Matches were based on responses to questions about desired learning outcomes from the program and also geographical and time availability. Once applications closed, the platform algorithms and the weighted questions matched 20 pairs. The software uses an algorithm to draft matches based on multiple choice answers. Human consideration then determines if these matches are sound, based on additional information from free text fields and the knowledge of colleagues and the wider team.
MRC then invited successful pairs to meet at the opening function.
Matched pairs were encouraged to attend face-to-face functions to support a wider networking group. Three face to functions were held: At launch, mid-program and close of program. Pairs also met one-on-one, at mutually suitable times. The suggested timeframe to meet was once every two to three weeks.
Mentoring program achieves 100% advocacy
At the close of the first program in July 2019, four and a half months later, 100% of participants stated they would recommend the mentoring program to others.
Also, 38% said it was one of the best things they had ever done!
Heading into the middle of their mentoring program, common themes emerged from the partnerships. Mentoring pairs were identifying skill gaps, shaping goals and discussing extending relationships beyond program close.
“These are all typical responses from a program that is producing results,” said Art of Mentoring’s CEO, Melissa Richardson.
Come program end, over three-quarters of participants felt the length of the program was just right, with the remainder suggesting it was too short. This aligns with Art of Mentoring’s recommendation that a six-month program can fully foster relationships and achieve set goals.
“(My mentor)…guided me without taking the driving seat. He allowed me to come up with the answers to my own questions.”
Others commented on increased confidence and being challenged to think from a perspective they had not previously considered. Responses such as these embody the power of mentoring done well. To share the success of the program, Mackay Regional Council recorded and uploaded testimonials from happy participants. You can view these on YouTube:
The second cohort commenced mentoring on July 16 with another 20 pairs. This program has twice as many applicants, suggesting strong word of mouth recommendation within the region.
In 2020, Dobbins is considering extending beyond 20 pairs, by widening the scope of eligible member organisations for the program.
“Now that I’m more familiar with the technical use of the platform, increasing numbers will be quite simple, and will add even more value for the participants in terms of experience and diversity,” said Dobbins.
Dobbins says the Mackay Mentoring Program has been very well received and subscribed to at the middle and senior levels.
“[The Mentoring Program] adds enormous value to our Employee Value Proposition and I’ve now been approached by other organisations outside the RIN network and MRC to join the program in 2020. I have had mentors volunteer for both cohorts, just to give back and help grow our region, despite the time commitment. Mentees have been especially grateful for the opportunity, acknowledging the rich input from the diverse cohort of mentors. Almost every match so far, except two pairs have been RIN to MRC, which has added to the diversity of experience,” said Dobbins.
Mackay’s regional workforce is now positioned for long-term success and sustainability. Despite a skills shortage, the MRC and RIN are developing local leaders through expert mentoring and coaching facilitated by Australia’s leading experts, Art of Mentoring.
Art of Mentoring offers the latest in mentoring best practice with a vast range of evidence–based programs, expert consultants, software and world–class resources to support the design and implementation of effective mentoring in your organisation. As a team of client service professionals they strive for 80%+ participant satisfaction.
“It was a great program. It’s definitely a good idea to go in with an open-mind, because your journey doesn’t always go in the direction you may have originally thought it would, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s been a great experience.”
Melissa Rogers Mentee w Alexandra Dobbins
“I did achieve my goals – I committed to the program and ensured that takeaways from each session were applied in a practical sense.”
Emily Wicks Mentee w Heidi Fagan
“After experiencing the situation of having a mentor, I have realised the importance of a mentor and I would recommend everyone needs one to grow in their professional life.”
Rohith Kallem Mentee
“What a great programme that provides the opportunity for people to connect and deliver business results through connecting with those that are prepared to share their knowledge and experiences. Great programme!”
Heidi Fagan Mentor w Emily Wicks
Art of Mentoring can help any organisation launch, run or evaluate a mentoring program. For more information please contact us.