By Emma Leech.
It’s odd talking about mentoring (which is all about supporting and helping others) and using ‘me’ in the subject line but mentoring is genuinely one of the most valuable things I do, both in the workplace and through CIPR’s amazing Progress Mentoring Scheme.
I’ve never had a formal mentor – it wasn’t really a ‘thing’ when I started my career – but I’ve been privileged to have had informal guidance, support, and advice from a wide range of people over the years. I can’t thank them enough for that. From next job conversations to sensible sounding board on dark days, and cheer leading on great days, my informal mentors have had my back.
And that’s why I started to get involved myself.
I’ve had informal mentoring calls and conversations with people for many years, often when they’ve reached out because they needed a hand. I’m happy to do that where I can. CIPR’s Progress Mentoring Scheme takes that to a whole new level. The difference is that mentors put themselves out there with what they can offer and you choose who might be the best match in terms of your aspirations. It’s proactive, takes away that potential fear of being rejected and it’s tailored to your personal needs.
I’m currently mentoring seven colleagues at intervals to suit them and with the focus squarely on their needs. As a mentor, it’s eye opening, rewarding, and a lot of fun. Not surprisingly, some topics come up more commonly than others – imposter syndrome, difficult bosses, navigating internal politics, moving to the next stage career-wise – but each of my mentees is very different and their circumstances are also unique. That brings both challenge and the need for me to flex my thinking, work on my empathy, understand their perspectives and work with them on solutions. Seeing them thrive, spot new ways forward and move ahead with their careers is – quite simply – absolutely brilliant.
I have a pretty demanding job as a Board Director at Nottingham Trent University. Time is precious, but what I’ve learnt is how valuable my mentoring role is as lived experience and insight that feeds directly into my day job.
I’m much more aware of the challenges facing my own colleagues and what I can do to support them. I’m more inclusive in my management style. I’m increasingly focused on how I can unlock talent and potential within my own team. I’m more passionate about equality and diversity than ever before. I want to be the change: I want to help others be the change.
I’ve also enjoyed learning more about different sectors and organisations, understanding different points of view and sharing ideas and, on occasion, resources with my mentees. It’s a continuous win- win.
To anyone reading this who may be thinking about getting involved and becoming a mentor, I’m going to steal from Nike and say “just do it”…Pay it forwards and take the opportunity to learn, grow and progress your own development at the same time.