Mentorship is in-depth multifaceted professional advancement, which incorporates sharing of knowledge, social experience and psychological support for a young specialist. That is why Polyus as the national gold mining champion and one of five global sector leaders pays particular attention to it. In this article, mentors of four Polyus’ business units elaborate on their choice for mentorship and the ways how to educate others.
Mentoring as an institution is well-developed here comprising 253 people. Valentin Smirnov, one of the Mill 2 operators, has been working at Polyus for almost 10 years. He has already mentored 20 people including newcomers and employees who improved their professional skills.
«The major goal is to help adapt to a new team and reinforce communication with colleagues. As many newcomers have metals and mining background, mentorship seems to be rather sharing experience than educating. Mentors may help with daily activities and corporate guidelines.
People are different, therefore a mentor needs to find things in common with everyone. Communication is the key, and we talk both about professional and daily routine issues».
A mentor never does their mentees’ work for them. A mentor’s responsibilities is to teach their mentee how to think on their own and find their way out of any situation at the facility. That’s why mentors don’t offer ready-to-use solutions; instead, they may provide some clues and explain what they would have done under similar circumstances.
«I have a lot of experience as a driver, a track record of 15 years. And now I am teaching a trainee as part of the Driver project. I think this is a very useful initiative because there are lots of people who want to use these kinds of vehicles when working at a pit but they lack necessary skills. The project participants have gained an opportunity to learn how to drive special mining vehicles and master other skills that will help them become highly qualified specialists, sustainable employment and decent wages. Before that I got to coach multiple people at other open-pit mines, so I have a solid background»,he commented.
Mentorship is turning into more of a hobby for Denis: he loves talking to people and sharing his experience. He himself benefits as well because mentoring allows him both to keep track of his competencies and to gain some new knowledge.
Over 80 mentors currently take part in the program. One of them is Elena Kravets, an operator at a gold-containing ore processing circuit. She joined the Company in September 2005 and, with the support of more experienced coworkers, got to learn about CIL, equipment maintenance as well as how to control over processing parameters and meet the required performance indicators. Now she herself has been mentoring others for three years already. «I am training people in occupational safety, which is the most important aspect of our work. Our mentorship program covers the CIL and its parameters. I’m happy to see our junior colleagues motivated to learn and to grow professionally,» Elena commented.
During her time as a mentor, she has already helped 10 new employees adapt to their workplace. Their further career shaped out in many different ways but most of them have remained at the operations, and all of them look back to their time under Elena’s wing with gratitude.
There are mentors at most of the Kuranakh Mill circuits. For example, Svetlana Yatsunik, who has been at the Сompany for 15 years, is an operator specializing in gold-bearing ore treatment. She joined the corporate mentorship program in 2019, taking the necessary training program and passing the qualification exams. «Before the program, I had already some experience with mentoring trainees and students that were working with us as interns. Six of them are still at the process plant, even after such a long time, which makes me happy. It’s important to speak words of praise with your trainees, as this makes them more interested in their work and motivates them to perform better,» Svetlana shares. She has already helped more than 20 new employees with their career choice.
Anastasia Parfenova, a non-ferrous metallurgy QA inspector, is a part of a mentor team that includes 124 professionals. Her job is to select and prepare samples for the laboratory. This is a very challenging task, requiring incredible focus, but Anastasia still finds the time to contribute to the corporate mentorship program. She has assisted nine new employees with the career guidance so far.
«In most cases, mentors rely on their own skills and knowledge. In other words, they teach people what they themselves have been taught. Our Company needs mentorship to support and motivate new employees, share its knowledge, traditions, and norms, and reveal the new team members’ potential. Thanks to the mentorship, newcomers can learn right at their workplace»,Anastasia said.
The corporate mentorship program includes time-sensitive employee adaptation, introduction to the production processes, and explanation of the workplace rules, conditions, and norms. «Training lasts for two weeks. During this time, new employees learn how to keep their workplace in order and how to interact with other business units. It’s also important to elaborate on the specifics of all the processes and motivate staff to meet their goals and be consistently productive,» she emphasized.
The corporate mentorship program is gaining momentum year by year, with more and more professionals becoming part of the mentor team. Among them is Evgeny Evdoshin, QA inspector, who has been working at Verninskoye for almost seven years. Today he is in charge for monitoring the processes at all production stages, from feeding ore to producing gold bars. Polyus Verninskoye currently has a total of 14 mentors. Each of them bolsters their team’s performance and is appreciated by their coworkers. On top of that, mentors are incentivized financially to help with onboarding of newcomers. In line with the other Polyus’ assets, Verninskoye recently introduced a mentorship online course.
The future professionals no longer require a face-to-face training as they are able to complete the program on their own using dedicated software. Meanwhile, if they face any challenge or need some support, there is always someone they can talk to.