Learning by doing is not always as simple as the phrase suggests. A day at work often passes routinely without much thought put into analyzing the way we work or how we need to develop. This is partly due to tight schedules and of course our innate tendency to follow familiar patterns. Taking part in a mentoring program can be an effective way to become more aware of your own development areas and to get a new perspective on your job. With the support of the mentor the mentee learns to actively analyze and develop their skills. A mentor can even challenge the mentee to achieve things they did not think possible.
At UPM mentoring is available to employees with very different job descriptions although the program is mainly targeted for employees working or aiming to work in leadership positions. The UPM Bioforce trainees for example take part in a Bioforce mentoring which includes three meetings. One when the traineeship starts, one during it and one when the traineeship ends.
“The mentoring included in the traineeship gives the trainees a better understanding of UPM career opportunities and our business. The mentors get to hear the trainees’ fresh ideas and see their business from a new viewpoint. Bringing together people from different generations, fields of expertise and backgrounds creates positive things: knowledge, connections and innovative new ways of doing things”, says Katri Ranta, Manager, People Development at UPM.
Bioforce trainee Jukka Pohjonen and Matti Laaksonen, Mill Director, Kymi Paper Mill.
Mentoring builds bridges between business areas
At UPM mentees are employees who are evaluated to benefit the most from mentoring. A mentor is someone who has experience and who is willing to share it. Both roles demand a readiness to challenge one’s own thinking and be open for dialogue.
Typically a mentoring program consists of four to ten meetings. The mentee is responsible for organizing and scheduling the meetings. The mentoring relationship is confidential and the program is created based on the mentee’s professional situation, development targets, strengths and weaknesses and the mentor’s area of expertise and skills. Often there is a clear developmental goal. Part of the mentoring is about passing on tacit knowledge about the company or business, information that is hard to come by in books or at school. This is one of the ways in which a company benefits from mentoring. It also creates new connections within the company and opens up dialogues between different business areas. Both the mentee’s and mentor’s team benefit from the new information and connections.
During a typical year about 50 UPM employees take part in some sort of mentoring program. Many consider the experience a useful and rewarding or even a revolutionary part of their career.
Main picture: Antti Hermonen, Mill Director, Kaukas Paper Mill (on the right) is the mentor for Bioforce trainee Ninni Pasanen this summer.