Mentoring and Me: The Last Stretch

How are some of the Spring 2019 cohort approaching the last stretch of their journey together? Has Covid-19 and lockdown adversely affected their ability to catch up? Read on to hear updates, alongside some advice for those considering whether or not to take part in the Spring 2020 Matching Scheme.

Just over six weeks ago some businesses across the City and elsewhere were already operating alternate ‘work from home’ and ‘in-office’ rotas. Only a week later and most were implementing complete lockdown and remote working measures. In the midst of all of this, as people were responding and adapting to the enormous changes, a few of the mentoring partners that we have been checking in with since last year were kind enough to respond to a few brief questions that I’d posed. Here they are. 

1. Are you managing to maintain your mentoring relationship at this challenging time and if so, how?

Claire, who is now HRD in a management consulting firm, replied to say that she was managing Covid-19 queries from every angle and absorbed by the measures that needed to be put in place. She explained how this had an impact on her available time to check in with her mentor. It was heartening, though, to hear that she is looking to continue their partnership in the longer term. 

Sarah, Claire’s mentor and HRD of a Financial Services firm, explained how the sheer volume of work in addition to the pandemic has meant less time for mentoring, but how keen she is to continue an already strong relationship. 

Martin, who is mentoring two people from the 2019 cohort and an Executive Director of a global Information Provider, explains how he is managing to maintain his mentoring relationships:  “Yes, in a fashion. We are communicating via email and are in the process of setting up a date / time to meet virtually over the next week.”

Catherine, a trainee solicitor, is being mentored by Melanie who is a partner in a law firm and living in Italy. She answers: “Since we live in different countries our communication methods haven’t changed, although recent discussions have focused on ideas to cope with lockdown – including some stories about our long dog walks.”

Finally, Julia is mentor to Anna and she highlights how the current challenges of working from home with juggling childcare and home schooling has initially had an impact on their ability to check in with each other. A familiar scenario for many!  She says that they: “…caught up over the phone a few weeks before lockdown, and I imagine we’ll be about to continue to catch up as and when needed, as we often did so over the phone.”

Which demonstrates how those partnerships may well be put on hold for a short time, but how important they have become for many. In light of the current situation brought about by Covid-19, alongside the usual time pressures experienced by people in more normal circumstances, it is encouraging to hear from people who are not in the least phased by maintaining their connections remotely.

2. What have been the key benefits of being a mentee/mentor?

Claire describes the key benefits of having a mentor through the Scheme: “It’s not just the experience of the mentor that is invaluable, it’s the learning of a mindset that your mentor has – this has been invaluable for me – Sarah is superb at sharing her whole self when we get together and I have found this super helpful.” 

Sarah is equally enthusiastic about the benefits: “I’m especially enjoying learning more about Claire’s business and the challenges she faces.  It’s great to have an insight into what other companies are doing, how they operate etc.  I think it helps develop my own listening skills and it’s good to apply my knowledge to new situations.”

Martin responds: “As with any mentoring relationship, it is a two-way process. It gives me experience and different perspectives, but also allows me to discuss and work through challenges that either I have faced over the course of my life / career, or which are unique and it is simply helpful to talk through with an ‘outsider’.”

Catherine’s perspective demonstrates the value of having a mentee as: “…being able to set aside worries or concerns, knowing that I can discuss them with my mentor when we speak. I have also appreciated the reality checks that my mentor offers.” 

It is clear that the benefits of the partnerships can be achieved through building trust, investing some time into the relationship and communicating in an open and collaborative way.

3. Do you have any advice for anyone looking to apply to be a mentee/mentor on this year’s Scheme?

Catherine’s advice for potential mentees is clear: “Be clear, yet flexible about what you want from the Scheme and realistic about what a mentoring relationship can offer.” Which highlights one of the essential ways in which to approach being a mentee, as well as how to ensure that it works for you. Claire echoes this and says that she highly recommends joining the Scheme. 

From a mentor’s perspective, Martin adds: “Remote working and management is a fact of everyday life for many managers and leaders who are considering themselves as mentors. Over the course of my career I have often managed people in different locations that I have never met – this is no different…now, more than ever, having a support network is critical to building a constructive work-life balance.”

And finally, when asked for any advice for people considering to apply to this year’s Matching Scheme, Sarah replies: “Just do it!”

*Please note that most names have been changed.


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