Stephen Gill Associates, Bang Kruai, อ. บางกรวย, Thailand


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Name of Organization / Company: Stephen Gill Associates, Bang Kruai, อ. บางกรวย, Thailand

Category: Award for Innovation in Human Resources Management, Planning & Practice > All Other Industries

Entry Title: Cool Mentoring - Quality mentoring at a distance


“Everyone benefits from mentoring” – Cool Mentoring is an innovative scheme to help match mentors to mentees across the global refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) industry. It is a ‘not for profit’ scheme started and run by volunteers with a genuine desire to help their industry, and on a personal level to ‘pay it forward’ as a thank you to the many ‘good souls’ that helped them in their own careers.

The RAC industry is facing a number of challenges including skills shortages and an aging work force. When combined with the fact that most organisations operating in this sector employ fewer than 10 staff, issues of in-house training and knowledge-transfer become more challenging.

Conventional organisational mentoring schemes are not new, but an industry-wide mentoring scheme is pioneering. The Cool Mentoring programme was made possible by privately donated funds enabling three pilot schemes of 12 weeks each between July 2015 and March 2017. Designed and developed by Stephen Gill with the whole project being run by volunteers. The programme was complete with a matching-process, and mentoring guidelines.

The aim of these pilot schemes was to supply the international RAC industry with short-term periods of quality mentoring support at a distance upon which a longer and sustained programme of mentoring could be built.

Over the three schemes a total of 110 pairs with individuals from 12 countries across 4 continents took part in the scheme.

Unlike conventional mentoring which is typically face-to-face, in this scheme the mentor and mentee didn’t meet. The whole mentoring process was carried out by hybrid e-mentoring employing an intelligent use of technologies available, such as email, sms, and video-conferencing.

E-mentoring offers opportunities for mentors and mentees that would not otherwise be possible. For example:
- A global reach, which provides a greater range of cross-cultural and multinational exchange, enriching the experience of both mentors and mentees
- Flexibility and no restrictions on time and location as a limiting factor in the matching process
- The participation of a much wider and diverse talent pool from around the world

Some of the benefits of e-mentoring were:
- Given that much of the communication is in writing, mentors were able to spend more time thinking about the advice they give and the questions they will ask.
- Equally, mentees have more time to consider their responses. Mentees appreciate the time that they have to reflect upon the questions and answers
- E-mentoring often allows for more rapid responses by the mentor to the mentee’s urgent enquiries as opposed to a face-to-face meeting that could take days or weeks to arrange.

The programme was monitored using anecdotal feedback, verbal and written reports, and a follow-up survey.

Among the key results were:
-96% of mentees and 94% of mentors described their experience as positive.
-100% of mentees and mentors said they would like to participate in a future programme
-75% were considering continuing the relationship after the pilot periods
-27% said that they felt there was an element of impersonality about this type of mentoring

Everybody wins! - The benefits:
The programme has provided considerable benefits for the mentees, the mentors and the RAC industry.
- Mentees reported improved self-confidence, receipt of career advice, extensive networking opportunities, and increased technical knowledge.
- Mentors also gained from the mentoring relationship. Benefits have included improved job and personal satisfaction, a greater insight into their own level of knowledge, and increased
interest in international aspects of the industry.
- The RAC industry benefits from a raising of skills and retention of knowledge within the industry.

Outcome – industry professional bodies are now considering funding further programmes. A true success made possible by volunteers with an innovative idea and a pioneering approach.

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