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Mentoring on the Rise

Mentoring on the rise

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

With pandemic enforced changes in working patterns and a consequential increase in employees working from home organisations have had to respond to new challenges.  Those concerns for managers have been staff requiring a different form of support, feeling isolated, anxiety from having been furloughed or other mental health issues suffered because of the crisis.  To address these factors many employers have identified mentoring as an effective measure of support.

There are 3 main forms of mentoring:

  1. Formal one to one mentoring – a more experienced member of staff or external professional is introduced to the mentee.
  2. Reverse mentoring – a more junior member of staff would take the role of mentor over a senior employee, typically because of their particular skills e.g. technology or awareness of issues such as inclusivity
  3. E-mentoring – a one to one relationship managed remotely.

It’s this third option which has been hugely beneficial for many organisations who’ve sought to support their employees through their transition to home working.

The sessions should be entirely confidential although any specific concerns over wellbeing may be shared, with the mentee’s permission, with other parties who may offer greater expertise.  For example, a specific mental health problem may well be better managed by a CBT practitioner.

What exactly is mentoring and how can it help your organisation?

What is mentoring?

The origins of the word, mentor, spring from Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus, off to war, chose Mentor (who was the goddess Athene in the form of Mentor), to protect and advise his son Telemachus. This has translated to the modern day as an “experienced and trusted adviser” (Oxford Dictionary).

Mentoring – the Process

Mentoring occurs when one person makes it easier for another to make progress in their learning, overcome hurdles or personal development. Mentoring provides either short, medium or long term support helping individuals achieve their potential and improve their productivity, efficiency and thereby overall performance.  In the wake of the pandemic a Mentor can become a trusted source of help and guidance offering support in a non-judgmental manner.

The benefits of mentoring include:

  • Identifying areas for development and recommending sources of additional help
  • Gain greater self-confidence through sharing anxieties and knowing you’re not alone
  • Find help with knotty problems that are hindering the progression of your plans
  • Improve focus and decision making
  • Receive advice and insight from those who’ve relevant function or sector experience
  • Obtain guidance on planning for successful career progression
  • Receive critical feedback

One way to introduce this initiative into the organisation may be to launch your own mentoring programme.  This will of course take time and will require thought in the selection of appropriate mentors.  Seniority alone is no guarantee of being a good mentor, listening skills, patience, discretion, and trust are all critical attributes.  Training would also be recommended for those identified as suitable so as to bring the approach in line with the organisation’s expectations.  In effect the dos and don’ts of the process.

The matching will be down to the mentee selecting someone that would feel comfortable with or the company recommending a match as long as the mentee had an opt out option.

Another quicker route to implementation would be to source existing experienced mentors to work with your staff, this can be quicker but must be handled with care. We would recommend a very careful brief for the mentors and ensure mentees provide regular feedback on their experience to ensure it is working.

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