Are You Ready to be a Mentor?
A guest blog from Kate Higham, Facilities Director at Splice.
When I was put forward by my boss to become a mentor on the Create Jobs ‘Meet a Mentor’ scheme I was both pretty flattered and a little apprehensive. Did I have enough pearls of wisdom to offer a young person? Was my own experience enough? But hey, this wasn’t about me! From someone who got into an industry where it’s all about ‘who you know’ without knowing anybody, it’s really close to my heart to help others do the same. Being part of this scheme meant I could.Meet a Mentor have an intake of 15 mentors and 15 mentees who are matched according to their industries and aspirations. It runs over 4 months, with an organised session each month. Then the ball is in your court for how much contact you have with your mentee.
The first session comes and I’m introduced to my mentee, a young lady who is keen to get into Film Production. I knew we would get along straight away. She was chatty, switched-on and I could already tell she had a really strong work ethic.
Each session gives you around 30 minutes to catch up with your mentee, to discuss goals and where they’re at with them, as well as basically just checking in with anything you might be able to help with. Then we’re lucky enough to have some thoughtfully put together guest speakers to come and talk about their career path. They are always unexpected and inspiring stories; useful to not just the mentees but all of us mentors too! I am always impressed by how hard-work and a stroke of luck can elevate someone’s career to the next level.
The thing I wasn’t expecting was how much I would learn from being a mentor. I love how the young people on the scheme have the confidence to say out loud what they want and who they want to be, and to have the balls to say where they might be falling short. Sometimes I wish we had more of that in the workplace! And I learned the value in goal-setting; to sit and reflect on what you want and write it down. It’s one of the most valuable exercises we do, and it’s not just for the mentees.
And do you know what? Now I want my own mentor!
My Top Tips for Mentoring:
- **Listen. **The most important one! Make sure you understand what your mentee wants and who they are. Only then can you help them achieve their goals.
- **Set goals. **This is how you should begin each session. It ensures you have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up setting some goals for yourself!
- **Question. **Sometimes it’s important to ask “why?”. Until you understand what’s motivating your mentee, it will be hard to help them determine their priorities.
- Challenge. Don’t be afraid to challenge your mentee. Did you set a deadline they didn’t meet? Find out why.
- Share. Never mind folkloric pearls of wisdom, share your own stories and experiences. Maybe you’ve learned the hard-way: owning up to mistakes or explaining what you could have done differently will show your mentee that you’re human too. We all make mistakes but only some of us learn from them!