Our cross-industry mentoring programs' secret sauce

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By Serendis

July 3, 2023

‘The structure and support provided by Serendis on this program made it a uniquely valuable experience for me’ (2022 Mentee)

‘I have been a mentor on this program many times but still learn at each session as the art of mentoring is subtle and complex’ (2022 Mentor)

This is some of the feedback we regularly receive from our cross-sector mentoring programs’ participants. For more than eight years now, we have been partnering with Women in Banking and Finance, Drinks Association, Property Council of Australia, and Franklin Women (Medical research) to deliver structured mentoring programs for their respective member organisations and their staff.

What makes our programs different from traditional mentoring?

When we set out to design this program in 2010 for member organisations in the banking and property industries, we were determined to make it different. We wanted it to be much more than an introduction between two people who will have a series of ‘networking chats’.

Our observation of ‘casual mentoring’ was underwhelming. Mentees would traditionally prepare questions and their mentors would respond based on their own career experience. This did not create real impact or growth for mentees. And we saw too many relationships ending awkwardly after two meetings.

We wanted our program to have a long-lasting effect on our mentee’s career but also on our mentor’s leadership skills. To deliver this, we gave our participants access to:

  1. A series of group workshops that provide powerful coaching frameworks on a range of career and leadership development topics
  2. Our unique digital platform MentorKey that delivers real time, tailored support to mentees and mentors to reflect and plan for each of their session.

How do we achieve this?

Both the workshops and our MentorKey platform support our participants to drive their mentoring partnership around three mentoring pillars of success:

  • Pillar 1 – Identify clear goals for the programWhat will you achieve through this program that you would not have achieved on your own this year?

    Our mentees are challenged to answer this question within the first few weeks of the program. Setting goals can seem tedious, oversimplistic or daunting but it is the most powerful way to ensure the mentoring conversations are impactful and relevant. By setting clear intentions, the pairs focus their conversations on short-term achievable insights and actions.

  • Pillar 2 – Mentor to ask more questions than provide answersEveryone is unique. Our mentees already have 10 to 15 years’ experience in their career. At this stage of your career, you want to define your own path and be guided through powerful questions. We equip our mentors to ask the right questions, challenge their mentee with perspectives they have not considered before and provide them with the space and time to chart their own strategy.
  • Pillar 3 – Take action in between sessionsThe secret to a successful mentoring partnership lies in what happens between mentoring conversations. Are mentees taking real action based on the insights generated by their mentor? This differentiates a series of coffee chats and true mentorship. Our participants are encouraged to wrap up each session with a commitment to taking one or two actions to bring to life their session insights. These could be further reflections, facing into difficult conversations, leading people differently, connecting with senior stakeholders…anything that will accelerate the mentee towards their aspirations.

Could this program be for you?

You can find more information about the next programs intake in your sector here:

In the meantime, you may also be interested in discovering Mentorkey: www.mentorkey.com.au.