Mentoring in the Current Climate
It was my great honour to be elected Vice President of IFSC Toastmasters last night. It’s a year I look forward to working with some amazing people and hopefully raising the profile of the great work done in creating articulate speakers and great leaders.
It was timely so that at last night’s Toastmasters meeting a colleague gave a presentation on mentoring. The topic had been on my mind as it will form part of my new role and is actually the topic for my own next speech as part of my Toastmasters Educational journey.
But much more then my own journey I think now is an important time to bring focus to the mentor/mentee relationship, given the current world we find ourselves in. For some remote working is business as usual but for many, this is a new challenge and delivering mentorship programs must be considered to overcome these challenges. I believe there’s actually an opportunity to capitalize on the accelerated adoption of communication technology here.
There are many benefits to both the mentor and the mentee in developing these relationships. They can develop over time and the roles can even reverse in some cases. I would do well to add anything to what my colleague discussed at last night’s meetings with respect to the benefits and dynamics of a good mentor/mentee relationship. So instead I’ll discuss how you can approach encouraging or even creating a program for such a collaborative culture.
1. What does a mentor/mentee program look like?………
Mentor/Mentee relationships can be formalized and unformalized. Where they occur naturally they typically look like the latter. If these relationships occur regularly in the business then you can consider it a cultural success, however, this isn’t to say that you can’t put a more formal shape on it to get even more from them.
Formalizing a mentor/mentee relationship has numerous benefits. For a start, no one is left behind and forgotten about. You’ll be able to track current relationships to ensure everyone who wants to engage in the program can. You’ll also be able to create goals, casual mentor relationships can sometimes act as a touchpoint for each but developing goals can give focus and drive further benefits from the program. These could include, how to progress your career, how to develop your skills and offer moral support.
2. Who in the business should lead it?……..
Buy in must occur from the top. Encouraging healthy mentor relationships will have extensive benefits to the business and the people in it. But without support from the top, it may lose the competition for the most precious resource in the business which is time. It requires top down buy-in and a senior Champion in the business to drive it. You’ll need to develop a Mentor program with annual goals and progress will need to be tracked and reported, again at senior level.
3. What are the important touchpoints?…….
I’d recommend having three touchpoints/methods of communicating. The goal is that relationships are built and by having multiple touchpoints you’ll strengthen this and improve the quality of the messaging between each. The mentee will get across their questions, goals and challenges and the mentor can respond accordingly. Communicating occasionally in person (or video where this is not possible) as well as by phone and then some form of written communication (text or email) will build trust which in turn will bear the most fruit.
4. Why not join your local Toastmasters, or create your own………..
You knew I couldn’t finish without giving Toastmasters another plug. As a highly reputable global organization, it has proven programs to develop Leadership and Public Speaking skills. In my time with Toastmasters the main question I have heard is “am I good enough to go to Toastmasters”. Let me dispel any myths that may exist right now about those reservations. If you have never spoken before in front of people, and you feel fearful of standing up in front of people, then Toastmasters is exactly where you should be going. You’ll be warmly welcomed and encouraged but not pushed. And most importantly you will see that we’re all on the same journey together.
Why not take it a step further and start your own Toastmasters. A big shout out to Bank of Ireland who successfully launched their own Toastmasters this year and even competed successfully in competitions. Ireland is littered with lots of great Toastmasters clubs, why not check them out, try a few different ones and see what works for you.