Mentoring and me: The Journey So Far
Read on to hear how four mentor/mentee pairs from this year’s Matching Scheme are getting along in their mentoring journey. What are the benefits, and the challenges, so far?*
Julia, Talent Development Manager in an Asset Management firm is mentoring Anna, who has a background in Financial Services.
After running her freelance consultancy business for 8 years, Anna is embarking on the transition back into a corporate role. She was seeking mentoring support and guidance to help her through this process, as well as when adapting to a new role and subsequent challenges around life/work balance.
Julia describes the benefits of mentoring as having an opportunity to help support an individual with their career and feel like she's making a difference. In addition to this, she cites making time to discuss something outside of her own work related issues and hearing from others about their challenges as a rewarding process.
Anna names three benefits of being mentored so far:
i) Help to overcome imposter syndrome when job hunting. My mentor has helped me to focus on my strong points, experience and abilities while sharing her experiences.
ii) Just before I started a new job, I was encouraged to think of a 90 day plan and key milestones.
iii) Helping me think through work life balance and the need to find mental space for myself.
Both Julia and Anna say that the biggest challenges so far are about having the time available for their meetings together, and this is reflected by others. Switching to phone calls or Skype following an initial face to face meeting is a common solution for pairs here.
Onur, Senior Vice President at a major bank is mentoring Jason, an Associate Specialist at Lloyds. Onur describes the benefits of mentoring so far as follows:
"It is a good opportunity to meet a young colleague to understand how he views the world and the issues he is going through at the moment. As I have less and less interaction with younger colleagues now, the mentoring process helps me to get a fresh view of the next generation."
Jason, who is in his first role in the City, requested a "supportive mentoring relationship which would provide me with insightful conversations regarding managing work/life balance in financial services with a young child." Here he sets out some of the positive experiences of being mentored so far:
"My career development has benefited from the practical advice I have received from my mentor. ...(who) has given me a new perspective on how psychology can be a great tool to develop the skill of influence, a leadership trait I want to develop. I have also learnt more about financial services." Jason is looking forward to more sessions and to discussing the challenges of career progression and the desire to balance this with life as a new father.
Other mentoring pairs highlight similar positive experiences. Claire, Head of HR in a management consulting firm, and Sarah, HR Director in a Financial Services company were paired because of Claire's aim to progress towards an HR Director role. She was seeking specific career progression support and advice.
Claire explains that being mentored "...by someone who has experienced similar situations, is able to provide examples of how she tackled them and what she learned along the way, has given me confidence in my abilities by confirming some of my thinking. At the same time this has provided me with some additional thoughts to help me build out my ideas and develop." For Claire, being able to speak to someone who immediately understood her challenges and where she is in her role is a real plus.
Sarah is enjoying the opportunity to practise listening and other associated mentoring skills, as well as learning about how other businesses and teams work. Having also mentored on the CMS last year, she says that it is a rewarding to see progress and development in a mentee.
Our final pair is Melanie and Catherine, partner in a law firm and trainee solicitor respectively.
Catherine explains how receiving impartial career advice from someone in the same industry, but a different firm, means that she is able to express unfiltered views in a safe space and that she can sense-check her thinking and behaviours.
Melanie, who also mentored on last year's Scheme, shares her thoughts on her mentoring experience:
"The main benefit for me has been to obtain an insight into how the important issues of work-life balance and diversity are managed in organisations and industry sectors other than my own. On a personal level, it is rewarding to feel (or at least hope) you are contributing to someone else’s wellbeing and as a third benefit, I have had some good book and podcast recommendations."
We finish with one of Melanie's tips for good mentoring conversations:
"Remembering that mentoring when done well is about “listening and supporting” rather than “giving advice”, so resisting the urge to start too many sentences with “Why don’t you . . .” or “I think you should. . . .”
Thank you to all of our mentoring pairs who have contributed to this piece and thank you to all those mentors on the Scheme for volunteering your valuable time and skills.