“I believe that everyone has the ability to share their experiences; by doing so, you have the power to inspire the next generation of professionals”.
The above quote is one that I wrote back in April 2017 when I was leading a session for the CIPD Northamptonshire Branch member to member mentoring scheme, so it is quite personal to me, but is is one that I wholly believe in.
As HR professionals, we have a world of resources at our disposal; our network being one of the strongest assets that we have, this may not be unique to the HR profession, but it is certainly one that is powerful and has a solution to almost every challenge. This is particularly useful for mentoring, as the mentee may not even know some of the things that you do.
This was one of the many reasons why I decided to become a mentor in 2012 when I joined the CIPD Steps Ahead programme, since then I have been fortunate to act as one of their ambassadors in addition to mentoring job seekers. In 2017 I successfully supported 8 people into work; this was a range of people with different backgrounds some were returning to work after a period of absence, some were working parents looking for a career or returning to work, and others had just left university and were unsure what options were available to them. In addition to this, I co-founded the CIPD Northants branch mentoring scheme in 2016 which is beginning to grow in popularity.
The beauty of mentoring, is that you are supporting people using your existing skills and knowledge so it is not particularly difficult to do, all it takes is about an hour of your time every other week and you can make a big difference to someone’s life. It offers the opportunity to support others to encourage career development and support whilst unlocking their full potential.
One benefit of mentoring is that it bring volunteers who are motivated to make a difference, together with people who need additional support and may not have the confidence to approach their next step or job search in the right way. By bringing this combination together, it allows the mentee to communicate their hurdles to a professional person they may not have thought of approaching before and on the other hand, by listening to these challenges, the mentor is enabled to suggest practical suggestions that are unique to that person. When we collaborate, we empower each other to become the best versions of ourselves and this is incredibly important especially when it seems that there is such emphasis to be competitive in the world of work. Healthy competition is good but too much can impact massively on confidence which can hinder progression and decrease performance levels, because when our confidence is damaged, we often question ourselves, often with negative results.
One of the things I love the most about being a mentor, is that you can see that person develop before your eyes; their confidence grows, they present themselves in a way that would be desirable to employers but in their unique way, but most of all, you see how proud they become when they achieve things they didn’t think were possible.
This is something that we have started to see at our local CIPD member to member mentoring programme; so many people don’t believe that they may need a mentor as they are a professional person, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mentoring is especially important for our own development as so much can be learnt from even just talking to someone else. It’s like that feeling you have a conference when you speak to like minded people with different experiences, yes their journey is different to yours, but that is where we can learn so much from each other, it is simply about having the confidence to put up your hand and say “yes, I could do with a bit of extra help” and this is what a mentor can bring out of you.
The benefits to mentoring are endless, it is a humbling experience that gives you an opportunity to give back but its incredibly rewarding to see someone you have supported succeed. I am still in touch with some of my past mentees and they’re all doing so well in their chosen careers, I can’t describe how proud I am of them but I have also learnt so much from them and their respective industries which has also helped my career.
On 22nd November, I will be hosting a mentoring evening at the Holiday Inn Express, Northampton (junction 15 off the M1) this session is shaping up to be one night of mentoring fun, to book your tickets, go to the CIPD Northamptonshire page on the CIPD website. I look forward to seeing you there!