This is the topic of my 2nd magazine article to be published on 1st March in the RICS East Midlands Surveyor magazine which comes out with the Modus magazine (now I know how Carrie Bradshaw felt?!)
This edition of Surveyor is based around SME’s and I wanted to raise people’s awareness about mentoring and how it can be beneficial to both people working within large organisations but also, sole traders and SME’s.
As a result of redundancies, many people are in the situation where they are finding themselves setting up their own businesses to survive rather than because it’s what they really want to do. If someone has worked their whole career for someone else it can be really daunting, scary and lonely starting up on your own. Mentoring can really help give people support and guidance from someone who has been in their situation, knows the pitfalls and can guide them through the process.
A common definition of a mentor is a wise and trusted counsellor and teacher. Someone you can trust, who has experience and has been there before you, who is impartial, a good sounding board. Mentoring is a one to one relationship with an individual (Mentee) sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience to help the Mentee to reach their full potential and achieve their goals. It requires a range of human qualities and skills such as commitment, listening, questioning, challenging and support. It’s a bit like having your own, personal Cheerleader! (hence the pom poms!)
Not only could mentoring help Sole Traders and SME’s, it can help people wanting to progress up the career ladder in organisations and another good application of it is to mentor university students who are unable to secure year out placements.
This was demonstrated by an RICS conference paper I found when I was doing my research for the article entitled, Culture of External MENToring – using alumni to support current students which was written by Dr Fiona Grant of Heriot-Watt University (I wanted to post a link but it wouldn’t work if you’re not logged in to the RICS website)
So, How do you find the right Mentor?
A Mentor may be a manager or a peer but it needs to be someone you can trust. This could be done informally by approaching someone within the workplace or externally who you respect and feel has the knowledge and experience to give you the guidance you need, or formally with companies launching schemes within their organisation. Ideally your mentor should not be your line manager as it good to have a degree of separation between the roles.
Local networking groups may offer mentoring schemes and Information can be found on www.mentorsme.co.uk which lists both commercial and not-for-profit mentoring organisations.
Also, the government recently ran Get Mentoring www.getmentoring.org which was a public-private sector partnership initiative to unlock, train and support a community of enterprise mentors across the UK. The aim was to recruit and train thousands of mentors from the micro, small and medium-sized business community. There is still training information available on the website for those wanting to find out more about what Mentoring entails.
I’ve got a mentor who I was matched with via a really well organised (and free) mentoring programme organised by a networking group I’m involved with, I’m meeting her once / month for the next year. Hopefully reading this, someone will be encouraged to either get a mentor themselves or get mentoring!