Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #42
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Mentorship has its rewards



Dear Working Wise:

One of the newer members of our office just asked me if I would be willing to be her mentor. I am flattered, but a little surprised, because I feel like I’m still learning and I’m not sure if I have anything to offer. I never had a mentor. What does a mentor do? Signed, Hesitant Mentor


Dear Hesitant Mentor:


Congratulations on being asked to be a mentor. You may not feel like it, but your co-worker obviously admires you and believes she can learn from you.


Mentors are trusted advisors who have successful careers and proven track records. They make a commitment to support and encourage their mentees or protégés as they develop their careers.


Mentoring often includes:

·         Providing constructive criticism and advice

·         Discussing mistakes, challenges and successes

·         Connecting your mentee to others who can be helpful

·         Sharing what you wish you’d known when you were starting out

·         Offering insight into how you make decisions and resolve conflicts


You have an opportunity to have a positive impact on someone else’s life and help them develop into a professional you and others admire.


Many teachers say they learn more from their students than their students learn from them. Mentoring can give you a new perspective on your career—offering you the opportunity to see yourself and your profession through your mentee’s eyes.


It’s an opportunity to give back to your organization or profession and strengthen your reputation for developing new talent. Mentoring can also help reignite your passion for your work and inspire you to stay on top of the latest trends and best practices.


However, you should be cautious before you agree to mentor someone. What a mentee does and how she does it will reflect on you. Choose a protégé who is trustworthy, professional and ethical. Set clear boundaries about what you expect. If you are open, ethical and supportive, you will establish a relationship with your mentee that will continue to be a source of inspiration for both of you.


If you don’t think you can effectively mentor her, though, tell her right away so that you don’t waste her time.  


For more information and tips on being a mentor:

·         Check to see if your organization has a mentoring program or offers resources;

·         Look for books on mentoring at your local bookstore; or

·         Visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site at and read the tip sheet: Mentoring: How to Be an Effective Mentor.


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.



Working in the heat


Dear Working Wise

I am working on a road-paving crew this summer. A couple of days have already been so hot that a few of us on my crew felt like we were going to pass out. What can I do to keep my cool this summer? Signed Overheated


Dear Overheated:

Summer has finally arrived and that means it’s time for workers and employers to start thinking about working safely in the heat.


Our bodies work best in a very narrow temperature range. Raising or lowering your core temperature a couple of degrees beyond normal (98.6° F or 37° C) can cause severe damage to your brain, heart and other organs.


Our bodies regulate temperature by sweating and shivering. If you don’t replace the fluid you lose from sweating, you can dehydrate and your body will stop sweating. Heat will build up and you will be in serious trouble.


Early warning signs of heat stress include: headache, dizziness, fatigue, feeling faint, irritability, heavy sweating, heat rash, muscle cramps, dehydration, and changes in breathing and pulse.


Keep your cool this summer with these tips:

- create shade and work in the shade when possible;

- take short frequent breaks away from the heat/sun;

- wear reflective/insulated/cooled clothing near heat sources;

- limit your sun exposure especially during peak times (Noon – 3 p.m.);

- drink small amounts of water frequently, e.g., a cup every 20 minutes;

- wear loose-fitting lightweight clothing that wicks sweat away from the skin;

- avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol and pop, because they tend to dehydrate you;

- wear a wide-brimmed hat, UV-absorbent sunglasses and minimum SPF 30 sunscreen. 


You and your employer can also help limit the effects of working in the heat by:

-    lowering the air temperature with air conditioning;

-    increasing air circulation with a fan, ventilation system or by opening doors and windows;  

-    lowering the humidity using an air conditioner, dehumidifier or ventilation system;

-    decreasing exposure to radiant heat (e.g., asphalt, heavy machinery, etc.) by moving hot equipment away from the work area, moving the work away from things that radiate heat, or by using barriers to reflect or block the sun/heat;

-    avoiding intense physical activity during the hottest times;

-    using extra workers for the job and rotating workers between more and less demanding activities;

-    implementing a schedule of work and rest periods; and

-    providing a cool rest area for workers to recuperate.


For more tips and information on working safely in the heat, check out the Government of Alberta’s booklet: Best Practice – Working Safely in the Heat and Cold, which is available at:


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.

Volunteering and work


Dear Working Wise:

I have been approached by a local non-profit organization to be a volunteer on their board. Is this something that can help boost my career? Should I inform my employer before I agree? Signed, Near Volunteer.


Dear Near Volunteer:


Yes, you should tell your employer about your intent, because there may be conflicts of interest between your work and volunteer roles. Your supervisor may also be pleasantly surprised and excited about the new contacts and skills you will develop.


Volunteering is a great way to develop your work-related skills and learn new skills. Members of community boards are often called on to provide a variety of services—allowing you to stretch your abilities and increase your experience.


The commitment that you put into your volunteer experiences could also be a benefit when you are looking for that next job. Employers like to hire community-minded people who do more than just work.


Some employers actually encourage their employees to volunteer their time in the community.


Wilde & Company Chartered Accountants in Vegreville, for example, won a 2009 Corporate Volunteer Award of Excellence from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit for their staff volunteerism program.


Wilde & Company’s program pays each employee to volunteer at a community-service organization of the employee’s choice for three days every year.


Of course, not every employer can afford to pay their staff to work in the community, but many employers are open to the idea of their staff volunteering as long as it doesn’t interfere with their job too much.


Volunteering offers you the chance to make more business contacts and raise the profile of your organization. It provides opportunities for you to learn new technical skills and develop transferable people skills necessary for career success. Some non-profit organizations will even cover some of the cost of specialized training for board members or volunteers.


Taking on a volunteer role can also give much back to your community and provide improved job satisfaction—people tend to feel better about their jobs when they feel better about their lives.


For all these reasons, volunteering can actually make you a more valuable employee to your current employer.


However, before you accept your new role, you should try to spot potential conflicts of interest and bring them to your employer’s attention.


For example, are your volunteer and work organizations in the same or similar competing fields; or does your employer do business with your volunteer organization?


You should also find out how much time the volunteer organization is asking for; will your volunteer role require your attention during working hours; do they expect you to ask your employer for contributions (donations); or do they expect you to speak publicly on behalf of their organization—which may lead to confusion if you are already a spokesperson for your company.


Checking with your employer first and being prepared to answer these kinds of questions will reassure your employer that you’ve thought this through and have your employer’s needs and interests in mind.


Maintain an open dialogue with your employer about your volunteer activities. Keeping the lines of communication open will ensure your employer is supportive of your involvement and is aware of the kinds of new skills and experiences that you are bringing back with you to work.


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.

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