Recruitment: Unleashing the power of mentoring in the workplace

Grain Central, April 30, 2021

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  • Talent & Capability Coordinator – Australian Country Choice
  • Area Sales Manager, Eyre Peninsula – via Rimfire Resources
  • Machinery Operator (Permanent F/T) – Sunland Cattle Co
  • Farm Manager Cropping, Moree NSW – via Rimfire Resources
  • Livestock Drafting Manager, Saleyards – via Anna Brown Recruitment
  • Innovation Projects Officer, Cattle & Beef Production – ACC
  • Overseer/Senior Stand Hand, SA – SAFH
  • Head Stockperson, Sundown Valley – Hancock Agriculture
  • Cropping Operations Manager, Roma – Winnathoola Pastoral Co
  • Cattle Stud Position + Property Assistant (2 positions) – Burenda Angus

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MENTORING is a relationship between two people – the ‘mentor’ and the ‘mentee.’

A mentor passes-on valuable skills, knowledge and insights to mentees to help them develop their abilities and career.

Mentoring is a great way to progress a person’s professional and personal development, and help create a more productive business. It can also be very rewarding – for both the mentor and the mentee.

Mentoring can help the mentee feel more confident and self-supporting. Mentees can also develop a clearer sense of what they want in their careers and their personal lives. They will develop greater self-awareness and see the world, and themselves, as others do.

For companies, mentoring is a good way of efficiently transferring valuable competencies from one person to another. This expands the company’s skills base, helps to build strong teams, and can form part of the company’s strategy.

Additionally mentoring programs can support a variety of initiatives, including the following:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Periods of intense, disruptive high growth
  • Change management
  • Succession planning

Mentoring can also be a great tailor-made tactic for addressing the generational divide and tensions in workplaces, such as older generations’ micro-managing younger employees and younger generations’ overuse on technology.

Many would argue these tensions have always been there, but the generational range and diversity is broadening as we often now have four generations working alongside each other in the workplace.

And with retirement ages getting older, due to economic necessity and better wellbeing into old age, we can only expect the generational range to broaden further.

This type of mentoring can be performed internally within the company, and enables younger or less experienced workers to connect with older, more experienced ones in a non-supervisory capacity for coaching and mentoring in the ways of the world, business and people.

Recent studies report workers from across the generations (Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers, Veterans), found that a massive 75 per cent of them thought that a mentoring program would be beneficial.

And it’s not just the younger generation who benefits. The mentors themselves also benefit from a mentoring relationship, as they can:

  • grow their own leadership skills and help others to succeed;
  • get the satisfaction of passing wisdom and knowledge to others;
  • learn to connect more effectively with the younger generation;
  • build wider networks; and
  • even benefit from ‘reverse mentoring’ in the areas of new technology and emerging trends.

Upskilling the entire workforce

Mentoring is not just a critical tool for diversifying demographics in workplaces; it can also be a fast-track for up-skilling the entire workforce.

Mentoring has moved from being a ‘seminar buzzword’ to becoming an indispensable business strategy in agriculture. It promotes upward mobility within places of work, develops future leaders and helps retain staff.

To be a good mentor, you need similar skills to those used in coaching – being able to listen, question, challenge, encourage and support, and to also have experience which is relevant to the mentee’s work or life situation.

This can be technical experience, management experience, or simply life experience.

An effective mentor needs to:

  • Have the desire to help – be willing to spend time helping someone else, and remain positive throughout.
  • Be motivated to continue developing and growing – it’s not only the mentee that benefits. To help others develop, the mentor must value their own growth too. Mentoring can also assist in the mentor’s personal and professional growth
  • Have confidence and an assured manner – have the ability to critique and challenge mentees in a way that’s non-threatening, and helps them look at a situation from a new perspective.
  • Ask the right questions – ask questions that make the mentee do the thinking. To do this, try asking ‘open’ questions that cannot be answered with just yes or no. Or ask more direct questions that offer several answer options. Ask the mentee why they chose that particular answer.
  • Listen actively – be careful to process everything the mentee is saying. Watch body language, maintain eye-contact, and understand which topics are difficult for the mentee to discuss. Showing someone that you’re listening is a valuable skill in itself.
  • Provide feedback – in a way that accurately and objectively summarises what you’ve heard. In particular, use feedback to show that you understand what the mentee’s thinking approach has been. This is key to helping the mentee see a situation from another perspective.
  • Relationship building – treat the mentoring relationship with the respect it deserves. Focus the relationship on the mentee’s needs, and use value-added feedback to achieve the best outcomes from your mentoring.

For workplaces in the agriculture industry a mentoring program could be simply set up via the way of learning on the job. Utilise experienced senior members of the workplace to teach, listen and provide feedback to new or next-generation staff. It will still need to be a formalised, yet free-floating arrangement between the individuals involved.

This approach is also a great way to first establish confidence and participation in employees, using senior members of staff, as the mentee often already trusts the mentor and feels unthreatened and open to participation.


  • The Graeme Acton Beef Connections program is a great example of mentoring at work in the beef industry. Click this link to learn more about the Beef Connections program unfolding during Beef 2021 in Rockhampton next week.





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