A successful formula for mentoring programs
The impact a mentor can have on someone’s development can be profound and the benefits enormous for both sides of the relationship. However many programs, despite the best of intentions, struggle to reap the rewards of mentoring and success rates vary dramatically. Many say overly structured programs can seem forced or ingenuous, yet more relaxed programs are hit and miss. However, setting itself apart from others is the mentor-based scholarships offered by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to prominent up-and-coming referees and sporting officials.
The National Officiating Scholarships (NOS) uses mentoring as an effective way for the scholarship officials to gain knowledge, experience and develop their skills under the supervision of a senior official, past or present, of their sport. It boasts being the highest leveled officiating program of its kind globally and provides an effective development pathway for high-performance officials.
The ASC’s Ash Synnott says the program is anchored in this dynamic to gain the significant benefits from mentoring. He emphasizes how they invest time and resources to develop the mentoring relationship skills for both parties. It starts from a strong foundation with all officials using and sharing the results of their DISC Profiles. By understanding themselves more deeply and learning about each other, it provides an avenue to build rapport quickly.
“It’s important to realize that no two mentoring relationships are the same. Because the program is based on senior officials facilitating less experienced people, there needs to be an understanding that each official will have a different method in how they teach each element, which will in turn reflect on how it gets understood by the mentoree.”
Ash says that importance is placed on different learning styles, communication within the relationship, and making an emphasis on mentorees and their role. “Mentorees should drive the relationship, though mentors also need to contribute. However, it is all about understanding what you want from your mentor.”
The NOS has received a wealth of positive feedback from its participants, especially from those who have worked with the program for numerous years as mentors and senior officiators. The program allows for the proliferation of information and educated opinion across the full spectrum of sport officiating. This has led to officials returning from NOS workshops with a broader understanding of their field and a willingness to share that information with others.
One of the outcomes of this is the senior officials begin to appreciate that they are leaders within their sport, providing advice, guidance and mentorship to the scholarship holders. This has a positive knock-on effect whereupon the more confident the senior officials are as mentors, the more successful their relationships with their mentorees are.
Many of the past scholarship holders have progressed to officiate at a national and international level. The program stands alone on the international stage, transcending the world-recognized standards by providing a unique way of training. Several international associations are shadowing the ASC to emulate the program’s techniques and development.
Referees and umpires stand in the crossfire between fans, coaches and athletes. Rarely do they receive significant positive recognition for their work, which is performed in one of the most dynamic, fast-paced and scrutinized environments. They must remain calm and impartial in the face of unmitigated battering from all sides. Being resilient enables them to survive in their profession and they remain the thankless mediators sport relies on.
However their importance is substantial. Without these unbiased officiators, sport is inoperable and would likely implode. They do their job without any expectation of gratitude and with a professionalism and dignity unrivalled in most workplaces. Whilst others may not appreciate the decisions they make, an effort should be made to understand the trials they go through in order to enforce the rules of the sports we love. Give a cheer, pat on the back and thanks to all officials in our sporting world!
This article was featured in People+Sport Magazine: Education and Professional Development Edition.
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