The economic climate of the last few years has slashed the L&D budgets of many HR departments, decreasing opportunity for career progression for employees. To fill the gap, many people are turning to mentoring programmes. Regardless of your place on the career ladder, taking part in a mentoring scheme can be hugely beneficial. Here, HR professionals share their experiences and offer advice to help you get involved.
We speak to senior HR professionals regularly, and a theme of characteristics needed to get the most out of the mentoring experience surfaced.
What makes a great mentee?
- Able to take constructive criticism
- Be open, honest, and willing to learn
- Have a desire for career progression
What makes a great mentor?
- Have the time to dedicate to their mentee
- Can deliver constructive criticism with sensitivity and in a patient way
- Great communication skills with an active interest in helping people
What are the benefits of mentoring?
- Financial: Mentoring is an inexpensive alternative to educational training programmes because learning is acquired through personal interaction
- Helps both parties: The mentee benefits from the mentor’s experience, insights, and advice, while the mentor is able to put their management skills into practice and see their industry from a different perspective
- Long lasting: While many training programmes last for a short period of time and are sometimes forgotten, mentoring schemes can be long-term and more memorable as they’re founded in real-world relationships.
Feedback from a mentee: “Being a step away from your own organisation can be really beneficial. It allows you to air your thoughts and opinions so that your mentor can advise you on a concise way to overcome any issues when you get back to the office. We met every month or two in order to assess the impact of the steps I had been advised to implement.”
-Faye Mclean, interim HR professional
Feedback from a mentor: “Building a mentoring relationship has been hugely valuable to me. Transitions into roles are difficult as the gloss of the new firm wears off to unveil the harsh realities of cultural challenges, political blockers and people management nay-sayers. Having navigated some challenging circumstances in my own career, being able to support a talented HR professional and build a trusting and mutually beneficial relationship has been very rewarding. Watching someone taking control of their career and putting into action stuff you discussed with them and then seeing the positive return they receive from their firm makes me wish I’d had someone to turn to when I was in my middle management years.”
-Chris Leonard, EMEA head of HR, Blackrock
Tips for a successful mentoring experience
Gill Bell, HR director at Handle Recruitment, launched a mentoring programme for HR professionals in the media, entertainment and retail industries in July 2011. After five rounds, 0ver 80 HR professionals have taken part from organisations including ITV, Trip Advisor, BBC Worldwide, ASOS, Cath Kidston, Sony Music, and McCann Erickson. Here, she offers her tips on how to create mentoring success.
- Find someone from a different company in your industry with a similar job title. You may think this runs the risk of revealing sensitive information to competitors. Mentoring relationships are for personal career development, not organisational development.
- Make sure each party understands that information discussed is confidential. Creating a relationship built on trust and respect is key to its success
- Set boundaries at the beginning of the relationship. Communicate expectations for the experience and iron out the practical details from the beginning
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