I’ve always had mentors - either informally such as peers with more experience, or senior people who I spent time with on specific objectives. I was able to explore my aspirations, challenge my beliefs and see the way forward to the next stage of my career.
Mentoring is a powerful way to support people to grow, and there are clear benefits for both mentee and mentor. I was drawn to mentoring because I was passionate about giving back and supporting others who were starting on the path that I walked. It was about trying to inspire and demonstrate how to overcome personal fears. I was also keen to support diverse groups to build confidence and progress.
The first few times I mentored people were a bit scary, as I was a little nervous of how to lead the discussion and what was the right thing to say. I've learned that actually it is very much a joint process, and a relationship can be flexible while at the same time be focused on some clear objectives.
I have received some really helpful feedback which has enabled me to improve my skills in asking the questions and actually listening for what people are saying or even trying to say.
The most successful mentees I’ve worked with have really thrown themselves into the relationship, followed up on our discussions and completed their homework.
My tips for new mentors are:
- Be open, both in your questions and in talking about yourself
- Discuss mutual objectives and expectations of the relationship (including frequency of meetings and options to review and end the relationship)
- Set homework – it’s a great way to keep the mentee focused on their objective and to build momentum
- Be clear in feedback and be generous – discuss areas for improvement openly and share your network where it will help.