Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘coaching’

Coo-ee Collective

COO-EE-Main-Version1Living in the country for most of life I have often been envious of the professional development opportunities and professional association meetings available to my city counterparts. The ability to finish work and join an event with like minded professionals when you work in regional areas requires planning, travel and time.

For years I have been using web based “on line rooms” to deliver training, facilitate and run meetings with regional participants. My first attempt was in the early 2000’s when we ran a Government funded trial using the school of the air system to provide training for rural women in South Australia. The success of this pilot and the seeing the excitement for women being given an opportunity from the home office inspired me to persist with the technology – which still often lets us down.

As the technology is getting cheaper, easier and more accessible to use I have decided to combine my passion for mentoring and developing people with this virtual technology.

And so the Coo-ee Collective has been founded! Initially Coo-ee will focus on providing virtual mentoring for groups of people in agriculture and regions, other products will be added over time.

Our pilot mentoring group is well underway with seven rural women from across Australia and one from New Zealand meeting once a month to provide support, inspiration and share ideas with each other. Susie Green from SA is one of the participants – her comments are below…

“Coo-ee Collective has overcome geographical barriers to provide me with a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded rural women from across Australia and New Zealand. It provides a safe, structured and supportive environment to share experiences and emotions without judgement, competition or jealousy. It allows participants to be vulnerable without fear of shame and support each other as we work through challenges.” – Susie Green

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The power of mentoring

sharon mentoringGuest blog by Sharon Honner

How many of you have been to Bali? Yes I have been to Bali too!

I was there a couple of weeks ago with my four beautiful children. While we were there my oldest daughter and I visited a butterfly farm and in the nursery we were able to witness butterflies emerging from their Chrysalis, it was an amazing experience.

What does a butterfly farm have to do with Mentoring? As I pondered on what I gained from being a mentor it hit me that one of the most rewarding aspects for me is watching my mentee transform as does a butterfly.

So how did I end up being a mentor? In 2004 I was fortunate to win a bursary to attend the Rural Congress for Women in Spain and as part of that experience I set myself a goal to give back to industry that had supported me to attend.

The first step was, as a volunteer, to join a National Reference Group. At one of the first meetings in Melbourne we had a guest presenter on Mentoring.

My eyes lit up, what a wonderful way to give back to industry; however what I wanted to know was what underpinned being a great mentor?

The lady who presented at the meeting shared that for her it was the art of coaching, so full of enthusiasm, I promptly did some research and enrolled to complete coaching training, from that day forward the coach approach has underpinned the way I facilitate, deliver workshops and mentor.

There are several significant people in my life who have believed in me and given me the confidence to give something new a go. They also have challenged my thinking. On reflection this would have been what I refer to as INFORMAL mentoring.

The downside for me of informal mentoring is that often the relationship is not declared as a mentor/mentee relationship. In fact sometimes INFORMAL mentoring may simply be that I have chosen some-one that I admire to role model myself on or I may choose to support some-one who I can see potential in.

This year I was a Mentor for the YWCA SHE Leads Program. What excited me about the YWCA program is that it’s a FORMAL Mentoring Program. As a volunteer I appreciated that it gave me a start and a finish point.

  • Our relationship was declared and I was very privileged and honoured to be partnered with Dr. Lisa Bailey, Programs Manager, RiAus.
  • This gave us the opportunity to discuss how we were going to work together giving our relationship the best opportunity to be beneficial to Lisa.
  • For example we discussed: what were Lisa’s goals, what motivated her, what were her current challenges, where we were going to meet, when we were going to meet, how we were were going to communicate.
  • Also for Lisa how will she know our relationship has been of value?
  • For me also because Lisa was sponsored by her workplace it was important Lisa, her Manager and myself met to discuss what his expectations were and also the importance of confidentiality in our relationship.

It is my understanding if someone attends a workshop and then returns home or to the workplace if they do not implement their learnings 80% of that knowledge is lost in 3 months. When you are looking at Return on Investment that is a scary statistic.

Adding coaching or in YWCA’s instance mentoring to a program enables participants to retain up to 90% of their learnings.

Speaking of learnings, I enjoy bringing my own learnings to Mentoring, whether they are good or bad.

As Mentor I bring wisdom, however it is important the Mentee learns by finding their own solutions. An example is that as we support our mentees in reaching for the stars, ask them to take a moment to think about what if things don’t pan out how they had planned. What are their contingency plans?

When I first met Lisa I thought wow I know nothing about science and I have been paired with someone from a pure science background. This brings me to something else I value about mentoring. The skills and strengths I bring to a mentoring relationship doesn’t have to be within my industry, it can be across any industry, and by doing this, it keeps me fresh because the way I think is being constantly challenged.

In summing up what Mentoring gives to me – It is much more than the transfer of knowledge and insights.

I am passionate about women developing their leadership skills and if I can support some-one to reach their goals then I will beam from ear to ear.

Mentoring gives me the opportunity to reflect on my own goals, practices and learnings and deepens my personal leadership and coaching style, it challenges my thinking and keeps me fresh.

To all the prospective Mentors and Mentees may you do as a butterfly does …. emerge and spread your wings.

 

Mentoring programs – key success factors

2014-07-28 15.28.44What makes a mentoring program successful?

Having been involved in mentoring programs as a facilitator and mentor I have been researching other programs to find out the key success factors.

My motivation for this .. we are about to embark on establishing a mentoring program as part of a rural women’s leadership program and are very keen to build a model that is robust and sustainable.

The mentoring program will be a formal one as opposed to informal. For my thoughts and definition of mentoring follow this link to a previous blog The power of mentoring 

From my discussions and reading I have found the key success factors include

  • Training for the mentors and mentees so everyone fully understands their roles and responsibilities. This should be carried out separately so mentors can develop knowledge of some mentoring frameworks and key skills such as communication skills, questioning, listening, feedback and being non judgemental.
  • Guidelines, the how we will work together discussion is critical to success.
  • Clear boundaries around the length of time the relationship will last and when it will be reviewed.
  • Evaulation process – continual feedback
  • Support for the mentors, this can take the form of a group mentor discussion so the mentors can learn from each other. One on one support is also important should challenges arise in a relationship.
  • A mentee who is highly motivated, has a clear purpose and outcome they are looking for from the relationship. This could be a personal or professional goal, clarity is whats important.
  • Matching mentors and mentees – there is some debate about the best way to do this. However an element of choice on both sides was highlighted as important. The program need to allow opportunity to get to know each other, one program used a speed dating and networking activities and then asked the mentees to nominate their top 3 choices. The mentor then chose which mentee they would like to work with.
  • A strong sense of commitment to the process from both parties.
  • An industry culture that recognises and values the benefit of mentoring
  • Other ideas included a robust skills analysis for the mentors – they don’t always know what they are good at.

Thankyou to Jill Greenhaigh and Philippa Rawlinson from Lincoln University, Ruth Nettle from Melbourne University, Belinda Griffiths and Jenny O’Sullivan from Dairy Sage for their research and comments, past participants in our programs and past mentees for their insights for this blog and our future program.

If any readers have any thoughts about what would make a successful mentoring program we would love to hear your thoughts.

How well do you listen?

2013-09-24 16.05.05We all know how to listen – don’t we?

Think about it for a moment. What is going on in your head when you are having a conversation with someone? I often ask this question in workshops and get a variety of answers, most of which, are not related to listening intently to the conversation.

So what is commonly going on it our heads?

  • What I’m going to cook for dinner tonight. What I have to do next. A conversation I need to have with someone else…. This is when we are not really listening at all – sometimes called spousal listening!!
  • Often we relate what the other person is talking about to our own lives. Instead of focusing on the intent of their conversation we relate it to ourself and start sharing a similar experience. The experience that we relate too may only be vaguely linked to the intent of the other person. When this happens we see conversations go off on tangents,  we leave thinking…. “I wonder how we ended up there, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about”
  • Another option is that we are thinking about what we are going to say next.
  • Sometimes we problem solve instead of listening. We provide our opinion about the topic and suggest solutions.

We know that listening is made up of words, tone and body language which combined give us a more complete understanding of the intent of the person communicating with us.

Learning to really listen is not easy, we have to silence the voice in our own head and really focus on the person talking. It’s amazing how much we can learn about someone in a short time if we really listen. Their language can provide learning style, values, beliefs  and attitudes. Visually we can hear and see their passion and motivations.

Listening is an essential skills for facilitators and coaches – our intent is assisting a group or individual reach their own outcome.

Next time you have a conversation with someone I challenge you to really listen – listen like you have never listened before and see what you can learn.

As Steven Covey told us “Seek to understand before being understood” – good listening skills are one of the keys.

Sugar man

IMG_0919

One of my mentors – my husband Bill

Wow! what a story. Last night, Bill and I watched “Sugar man” the story about songwriter Rodriguez who released two albums in US in the early 70’s which didn’t even make ripple on the US music front. The same albums created a cult following during the depth of apartheid in South Africa selling over 500 000 copies.

Australia was the only other country in the world showing interest in the man they said was better than Bob Dylan.

The amazing thing was he didn’t know. He was still unknown in America and working his backside off as a labourer, struggling to raising his family and living in  26 different homes during this time.  While royalties were paid to his record company, not a cent was passed on so he didn’t have a clue about the impact he was having in South Africa at the time. (and on husband Bill and a few of his mates!)

Over 25 years later he was tracked down by a South African fan, who believed him to be dead, and he discovered the impact of his music in that country. Visiting South Africa in 1998 he performed to 6 sold out concerts … and then returned to being a labourer in US.

If only someone had contacted him!

His story blew me away… and took me back to my heroes and mentors. It made me think about  many of the people who had influenced my life  that I hadn’t taken the time to actually acknowledge for the impact they had on me.

In a country like Australia where we “knock the tall poppy” and berate success, we are not good at acknowledging. Imagine how powerful it could be if we had the courage to tell people genuinely what they had done and the impact they really had on our lives.

And I don’t mean a “thanks mate” or a “you did a great job”. I mean an acknowledgement with some “punch” behind it.

In our coaching and mentoring workshops we talk about acknowledgement as being authentic – from the heart. It focuses on the “who”  – the qualities demonstrated – what it really meant for you.

One of my mentors was my mother in law – a wonderful woman who demonstrated to me the importance of pursuing your passion in your career (amongst many other things). Sadly we lost her to cancer in 2000 and I never had the opportunity to tell her of the impact she had in my life.

Real acknowledgements are extremely powerful.

We can’t all have the impact of Rodriguez – such an impact on a country – but we can acknowledge the people who have an impact on us.

I leave you with the challenge to acknowledge your heroes and informal mentors … and I look forward to hearing the impacts!

PS – I also recommend watching the Rodriguez documentary – Sugar Man. An amazing story. (Bill and I are looking forward to seeing a 70 year old Rodriguez perform during Easter at the Byron Bay Blues Festival.)

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The power of mentoring

2013-01-03 20.35.24We have all had a hero – a role model we have admired and shaped ourselves on.

One of mine was Meredith – Meredith was the chair of the SA Women’s Advisory Council – my first role outside of my local district.  I admired Meredith’s skills as a chair – she was warm, inclusive and kept us on track. Meredith was my informal mentor.

Imagine how powerful the relationship could have been if I had had the courage to ask Meredith to be my mentor – instead of watching and learning from afar I could have discussed with her what she was thinking, how she planned those meetings – and fast tracked my learning.

How many of you have had an informal mentor someone like Meredith you admired from afar?  What about a formal mentor?

What is mentoring?

“The mentor knows how to answer many great questions asked by the mentee and pass on their experience.”  The Forton Group.

The key for me in the definition is “questioning” The mentor is a guide who walks with the mentee – they have some of the  knowledge to answer the great questions however we don’t have to know everything to be a great mentor It’s more about sharing and developing of the skills of our mentee,  sharing our networks and questioning the mentee to assist them to develop their own skills and knowledge.  Creating possibility.

We have formal and informal mentors and it the formalising of the process that makes it powerful. We should encourage people to approach us to formalise the process and approach mentors ourselves. We are never too old to have a mentor, its not about age.

I will share of couple of personal mentoring examples …

1. Last year I was a volunteer mentor for APEN (Australasia-Pacific Extension Network) where I mentored a young woman for 8 months. I enjoyed working with her enormously – the benefits for me were fantastic – the sharing of her achievements and watching her grow in confidence.

“I had what I thought were a lot of professional difficulties but through mentoring my mountains became molehills and  I  learnt a variety of new skills to deal with my work. I gained work life balance which was practically non existent – my mentor taught me skills for life.”

2.   Over a year ago I approached a young woman who had transferred into South Australia in an agricultural role and offered myself as a mentor – the gremlin in my head was busy telling me “what did I have to offer” however I stuck my neck out and offered anyway – the young woman took up my offer and we continue to work together regularly.

In Ag Consulting Co we often work with young people who have chosen agriculture as a career and build mentoring into our training programs. These young people tell me regularly about the need for more people with mentoring skills in the industry

Mentoring is a skill underpinned by coaching and understanding the role of a coach greatly enhances the skills of a mentor. Training in the art of mentoring makes the relationship even more effective – the next blog will be about coaching.

It would be great to hear about some of your mentoring experiences… I look forward to some comments.

Ignite Leadership Coaching

The Ignite Leadership Coaching Course is one of those training events that made me go WOW! I did the training with Tony Draper from the Forton Group and Sharon Honner a couple of years ago in Queensland.

I was so impressed I went back to Queensland in October last year and completed the course again along with the Train the Trainer so Sharon and I could facilitate this course together.

We facilitated our first workshop in Adelaide late in June and were thrilled with the feedback we received. We were very fortunate to have Tony come to Adelaide to support us as we facilitated this for the first time.

The Forton Group is an international organisation who has designed The Professional Leadership Coach Training Programme to meet the needs of organisations and the people who work in them. The Programme is accredited with the International Coach Federation, and consists of four modules – The Ignite workshop being the first of these.

The concept of coaching is often not clearly understood as we often relate to Sports Coaching or coaching for a skill. The Forton Group define coaching as “Supporting people to get what they want, without doing it for them, or telling them what to do. The coaching conversation is an art, a science and a practice.”

In contrast to a mentor who has experience in a field and acts as a guide, a coach knows how to ask great questions so the coachee can discover for themselves and experience their own journey.

I also particularly like the Forton Groups definition of leadership; “Leadership is about people being successful and enabling success in others. Leadership is more than a position: it is who we are, what we achieve and how we do it.”

The Ignite Leadership Coaching is the foundation course, it introduces the professional leadership coaching model. It touches on emotional intelligence, how we coach to develop peoples’ emotional capacity, introduces the model and focuses on leadership vision and accessing resources.

Sharon and I hope to offer this fantastic program again later in 2012 or early in the new year. If this sounds of interest to you let us know.

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