Here you'll find a selection of blogs from Enhance Mentoring, ranging from helpful checklists to mentoring definitions and advice. If you have a suggestion for a blog, let me know!
Whenever I start a blog post, I try to write it from my own experience, and not regurgitate several other blogs you can find online by searching the title. Usually, this is an easy task because I feel like I have enough to say about a topic. However, I'm going to be completely honest here and state right from the start of this blog that I have only ever 'found a mentor' once.
So here is how I went about it. I would certainly encourage you to do some more research on this in order to get a good idea of what will work best for you. Please bear in mind that when I chose my mentor, the mentoring programme that I've spoken of on this website, did not yet exist.
Who do you want?
I was very lucky in my job to work with/under some really accomplished and experienced colleagues, most of whom would and hopefully will make excellent mentors. This was actually one of the reasons why I knew creating a mentor programme at work would be a good idea, because there was a strong pool of people to help many potential mentees in their career. With this being said though, I only had one mentor in mind. Martin was one of our directors, and although we didn't work closely together, I really respected his hard work, his positive but honest energy, and his approachable nature. I knew I needed a mentor that wasn't overly professional or serious all the time, because I like to throw in humour where possible and I don't regard myself as overly professional either. I also knew that I needed to trust my mentor, and martin struck me as someone who would listen without judgement.
When you are choosing your mentor, remember to look outside of the place you work as well. You may have worked with someone a few years ago that would make an excellent choice - don't discount them just because you or they moved on and you've gone in different directions. You may not have even worked with this person, you may know of them through networking or they might even be a personality in the industry you work in. Make sure you've considered all options when making your decision.
I am a big fan (and find it a great way to make a decision) of sleeping on it, and although I knew that martin was the right choice, I definitely spent a few days considering alternatives and making sure I wasn't selling anyone else short. I thought about one other director who I knew I could learn a lot from, but I didn't think that we had the right relationship already in place to be confident that this would work. The advice I gave myself and the advice I would now give you, is to imagine what that first meeting will be like. When I thought about my first meeting with this other person, it made me very nervous and I couldn't see the conversation between us being completely open or honest. That told me all I needed to know.
Will they say yes?
Even though my choice was simple, I still had to think about the choice they would have to make, because I am not a huge fan of rejection. Just because I wanted him to take on this role in my life, that didn't necessarily mean he would want to. I had already built a good working relationship with him so he at least knew my name - always a good start! What made me confident that he would want to be my mentor was the way he had already been looking out for me at work. He would often check in with me, take the time to ask me what was new, and send me the occasional email praising my good work. It's always a boost to have someone in your corner! I thought, if he is already invested in me, why wouldn't he say yes to continuing this investment?
Make sure that the person you are asking has a track record of taking an interest in your career and your progress. My mentor was employed at the same place I worked at so I saw and spoke to them on a semi-regular basis, but yours might be working at a different company as you. A really good way to judge if they will say yes is to look at how they've been staying in touch with you. Perhaps this is via the occasional 'like' on LinkedIn, or you might exchange emails or catch up every now and again for a drink. Chances are, if you haven't seen or spoken to your choice for 6 months or longer, things might not work out.
All of this of course assumes that your chosen mentor is not a stranger. There are certainly benefits to mentoring between strangers, but this is something that requires some research from both you and I. It's an area of mentoring that I am really interested in learning more about, so whilst I encourage you to explore all mentoring options, I can't yet advise on this one in good faith.
How do you ask them?
This is a choice that is completely personal to you, so even though emailing my choice worked out well, you might consider a phone call or a face-to-face conversation. However you chose to ask though, make sure you are really clear about your reasons for seeking a mentor, why you've chosen them, and your aims and goals for the relationship.
One thing that we put a huge focus on in our mentoring programme at work was the aims and goals of the mentee, and making sure that the mentor was clear on what was expected of them, both content and time wise. Your choice for mentor might not say yes if they don't know what it is you want from them or how often you want it. You could take the s.T.A.R approach to your 'proposal'. Talk to your choice about your current situation in your career, highlight the challenges you might be going through or that you can foresee in the future, suggest the areas you want to work on, and end with how you think your mentor can help you and why. If all of the above is clear and makes sense to your mentor, then you should get the answer you are looking for. This approach will also create some strong foundations for your mentoring relationship, and you should find that your first meeting is a success as a result.
Suggest a good time frame for meetings during this conversation as well. My mentor and I met for about 90 minutes, once a month for about 4 or 5 months, and exchanged occasional emails and 5 minutes catch up chats during the working day. We were both quite open from the start and I was very confident that my mentor would give me the time I needed wherever possible.
As far as how you work your question, you can go for 'will you be my mentor?' like I did, or you can be a bit more subtle and mention that you'd like to get a drink and talk about your choice's career and experience. I think this will be reflective of the relationship you already have with your choice, so make sure you judge this correctly.
If you do choose email as your means of communication like I did, just be aware that this will result in a waiting period. I'm not a huge fan of waiting, so I did find this a little difficult and I did second-guess my choice. If this sounds like something that you might not deal well with, I would encourage a face-to-face discussion, or a phone call if this isn't possible.
Assuming that your choice says yes and is now your mentor, it's time to get started! I'll talk more about what that might look like in another blog, so sign up to enhance mentoring's newsletter below to make sure you're one of the first to know when it's live! If you have any thoughts or questions about this blog, please comment below and start a discussion.
Many of us know the benefits of being a mentor and a mentee, but what about the benefits of mentoring for a business? This is absolutely something to consider when proposing a mentoring programme at your place of work because it goes beyond the initial ‘we need it’ feeling that you might have.
This might not be hugely exciting, but it is the first thing many people consider when introducing a programme that is focused on their staff. If you can keep your staff engaged and challenged whilst ensuring they feel valued and recognised, you’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to having people that actually want to come to work on a Monday morning. Of course all this is easier said than done and it’s not a foolproof plan, but having a mentoring programme in place will make this easier to achieve.
Please be fully aware though that mentoring can also have the opposite effect on staff retention, but this should be viewed as a positive. This is something we will cover in a later blog.
Develop your staff
Mentoring allows your staff to grow and develop beyond their current state. This is a very basic description of what mentoring is from a business point of view. Your job as an employer is not to tell your staff what to do. It is to recognise what your staff want to do, whether it will benefit your business, and then to give them the tools in order to do what they want to do. A mentoring programme is the perfect tool.
Your colleagues are capable of doing amazing things, why would you not want to help them?
Light that lost spark
Especially from a mentor’s point of view but also for mentee's, a mentoring programme can reinvigorate a member of staff who has perhaps become a bit ‘stuck in a rut’. They are still producing good work, you have no issues with their performance, but the spark has gone and they no longer seem like the passionate ball of energy they once were. Joining a mentoring programme can offer focus and something new to learn about, and when joining as a mentor specifically, staff can be reminded of how valued and important they and their experience is to not just the company but the staff around them. Their new purpose as a mentor will reignite that spark.
You might be one of many offices within your organisation, looking for something to set yourself apart from the rest. A mentoring programme is the perfect initiative to make this happen. Not only will it benefit your colleagues, but if you can make it work in your office, others may want to get in on the action. Being the first in your organisation to introduce a programme might make you a point of contact for future programmes and may see you involved in the introduction of many more programmes in the future.
Diamond in the rough
Every office has at least one person who comes to work, sits and their desk, does their work and then goes home, right? They are friendly, they work hard, they don’t bother anyone, but essentially they are part of the furniture and no one really knows much about them or what they are capable of. It might be that they just like to blend in, earn their salary, and keep their private life private, and that is fine. But what if it's because they are too shy or lack the confidence needed to take on a new challenge, or they haven’t got enough experience to do what they really want to do? They might simply need a bit of direction because they are feeling lost. What do you think would happen if they joined a mentoring programme as mentee? What if that quiet person in the corner became a confident, forward thinking idea factory, now instilled with the self-belief that they can do much more than they thought they were capable of? I guess you’ll never know unless you give them the right platform.
I hope this post has helped you consider several key reasons why mentoring within your business is a great idea. Please let me know if you've experienced any further benefits when introducing mentoring within your place of work, in the comments below. I'd love to hear about your experiences!
In 2017 I created a mentoring programme at my place of work, with absolutely no experience within the field or even knowledge on the topic. Let me tell you, the internet was my best friend. Among the many questions I Googled during the early days, ‘What is Mentoring?’ was one of the first. At the time of writing this blog, 123,000,000 results come up when you search this, so as you can probably imagine, this isn't the first time someone has asked or tried to answer this question.
Like all bad wedding speeches, I'm going to kick off with a definition pulled straight from the internet.
''Mentoring is to advise or train someone, usually a younger colleague''.
Who agrees with this one? For me, although there is the word 'usually' in there, I don't like the use of 'younger colleague' afterwards in such a concise definition. Yes, mentors are typically older and yes, mentoring usually occurs in the workplace, but mentoring can happen all around us, and it's a lot more common than we think to have a younger mentor, especially in today's younger workforce.
It's hard to find the perfect definition, but for me it has to involve such words as 'knowledge', 'sharing', 'advice', 'self-development', and 'trust'. These are certainly the words that come to mind when I think about what mentoring is for me. I think the reasons behind mentoring need to be covered so that people know what mentoring can help them with from the start. This means that some people who might be under the impression that mentoring will 'fix them', are able to set some more realistic expectations.
Development is a key reason to seek out mentoring, but we need to be clear this is 'self-development', and not simply a way to get a promotion. Yes, that might be an end goal for many mentees, but you need to work on yourself first. Through honest conversation and sharing experiences, mentoring can highlight weaknesses, strengths, passions and goals, helping the mentee to develop as a result. Adding 'self' in front also highlights that the mentee is in charge of their own development, and that they have to action and commit to making a change, both to their lives/careers and to the mentoring relationship. Knowing who drives a mentoring relationship and why, is crucial for success.
It's also important to mention the word 'trust'. Especially in my experience, but also for many others, a mentee will often share their worries and feelings. If they don't feel they can trust their mentor, there is a risk that they won't open up about the above and progress might not be made. And for the mentor who might think it's appropriate to share a specific experience they went through to help the mentee, if it was a challenging time for them, or the experience highlights something they did that they aren't too proud of, they might be wary about sharing if they think their mentee might share it with others. Trust is a key element in any relationship, but especially in mentoring.
I think the inclusion of sharing is good as well, but it has to be clear this is a 2 way street, and not just all from the mentor. Although it's expected for the mentor to share their experiences and advice as we just touched upon, the mentee has to share as well for the conversation to flow. What good is a sharing mentor, when their mentee has barely said two words?
As I've been writing this, a few more words have come to me, such as 'future', 'confidence', 'tools', and 'focus'. I think this goes to show that mentoring is such a vast and powerful topic that it would be very hard to sum up everything that it is in one tidy definition. I think it's fair to say that one size does not fit all. It's also worth considering that because traditional mentoring has evolved so much over the years, this kind of question is never really going to be answered because it can change depending on the different formats.
I hope that you have a slightly better understanding of what mentoring is after reading this. As always, if you have any thoughts please comment below and start a discussion. Maybe you could share what mentoring is to you?
When I was younger, I had a specific age in mind when I would view myself as an adult. I believed that when I hit this age, I’d be married with children, have a great career, and have lots of money. This magic age was 27. As I got closer and closer to this age though, I started getting worried because as the years fell away I realised I was nowhere near achieving all the things I thought I would by this time.
After school I went to University in Stoke to study Journalism, but I only lasted in the big wide world for 2 months before I quit and came home. Although not a lot of time had passed whilst I was away, in my head I viewed it as a waste of a whole year, and as a result of this mentality, I actually did end up wasting the year. I went to University again, this time staying for the full 4 years and graduating with a 2:1 in Business Management, but I failed to get a graduate job when I had finished and ended up out of work for a few months. More wasted time as far as I was concerned. I then started working for a start-up company, who I would go on to work with for 2 and a half years, staying with them on the promise of a great career and increased salary. Then they made me redundant, and just like that I went back to thinking I had wasted another 2 and a half years.
I was stuck in this ongoing mentality that because I had experienced failure, I had wasted time and hadn’t achieved anything. I hit 27 and felt like I had it all wrong. I looked at my friends, even my family, and compared every aspect of my life to theirs. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I able to achieve the life I had planned out for myself?
I found a new job which I stayed at for 3 years, and although I liked my role and the people I worked with, after 18 months that mentality came back again. This time though, I refused to entertain it. I needed to create my own achievement, work hard on my own merits and in my own time, because clearly the traditional routes of success and achievement just weren't working for me.
This is when my Mentoring journey began.
My first step was to find a Mentor, because I knew I needed some clear guidance and advice about how to get myself out of the 'failure' mentality and into the 'I can do this' mentality. I asked a colleague who I perceived to be confident and successful to become my Mentor. I figured that he would have the best advice and I in turn would develop these same traits. This was when I knew very little about what Mentoring was. I thought that a Mentor would simply tell me what to do and problem solved. Like a teacher, or a boss. Or a fairy godmother with a magic wand.
Mentoring is so much more than this, which is something I realised over the course of our first few meetings and during my research. We met often and spoke about where my head was at and what I should do to adapt and change my reality. We spoke about the challenges I was facing at work, how to separate them into easy-to-solve bites, how to work with new people, how to remain confident, composed and professional, and how to enjoy the little moments and take a breath every once in a while. My Mentor shared his own life experiences, both positive and negative, and spoke with honesty and a sense of rawness which I both needed and appreciated.
It’s true that my Mentor gave me specific pieces of advice for specific issues I was faced with, but during our meetings and now reflecting back on them, I also gained very general and useful tools that I now use to deal with new issues and challenges. He didn’t give me the answers like I thought he would. He gave me something much better – the ability to figure the answers out for myself.
He also changed my mentality regarding how I viewed my career. We looked at my ‘failures’ and talked about all the positives that came from them. I will never quit anything as easily as I quit University because I will always remember how it felt to come home, knowing that I hadn’t even tried. I will constantly reassess my value within a company after being blind-sided with redundancy in a previous job. After feeling like I wasted time in previous roles, I’m now able to recognise when I’ve become complacent and so I try to better myself and take on new challenges. All the other mini ‘failures’ we had discussed became mini ‘wins’. Not conventional in the slightest, but they were the silver linings to the black clouds that had taken over my perspective. Mentoring shifted my focus from my past and made me reevaluate my future.
At the same time as being Mentored, I started to create a Mentoring programme that would allow others to be mentored at my place of work, just like me. Knowing how much Mentoring had helped me became my fuel for driving the programme forward and making it the best it could be. I was able to create and run a successful mentoring pilot with 12 participants, and see it through to the end before leaving the company. I’m so very proud of the work I did on this project, and I hope that my work has lived on in my absence.
As a result of creating this programme, I realised that there is a lot of information out there about Mentoring. Whilst incredibly useful, it can also be very intimidating to those who are new to this topic. I also didn’t want my new found knowledge to go to waste. So I created Enhance Mentoring.
Originally I wanted to to become an all singing all dancing online mentoring hub complete with a mentoring programme for members to join, a forum for everyone to discuss mentoring topics, a resource centre with downloadable PDFs and eBooks for those wanting to create their own programmes, and a regularly updated blog and engaging social media pages. Sounds amazing, right? However, all of that, combined with learning everything to do with building, running, promoting and understanding my website (SEO is a minefield, let me tell you), AND working a new full time job, just became far too much for me, so just 2 months after launch, I had to stop spending time on all aspects of Enhance Mentoring.
Before I knew it, 10 months of Enhance Mentoring silence had passed, and only now have I found the motivation and time to get started again. This time I’m going to be focusing my attention solely on the blog. I’m not saying all my other dreams for Enhance Mentoring won’t be realised in the future, but my immediate expectations are now much more realistic and I’m feeling a lot more positive now that the pressure is off.
I really hope you enjoy what I’m able to offer here at Enhance Mentoring. Please have a read of some of my blog posts, and let me know if you have any questions about becoming a mentee, mentor, or creating a mentoring programme in your own place of work. I will forever be an advocate for Mentoring and its enormous benefits to all individuals at all stages of their career, and I hope Enhance Mentoring can spread this word far and wide.