As the year comes to a close I’m prompted to take stock and make plans for 2013. It’s been a happy year, for many many reasons, and the Academy has played a part in that. Through the Academy I’m very clear about who I am and what matters, and I’ve met the most inspiring people. I struggled recently with my mentoring sessions and was worried I wasn’t getting as much from them as I did at the start. I turned to my fellow scholars who responded with advice, support and practical tips. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and a little star struck by the mentors you meet but it’s the scholars who you’ll probably develop the strongest relationships with. On top of that I have the most brilliant coach, what on earth will I do without her!
Here are some top tips for getting the most of mentoring.
- Be specific – what exactly do you want to get out of this session, what issues do you need to raise and ask for help with?
- It’s not all about leadership, you can talk marketing too
- Think about the bigger picture, this is a great opportunity to explore your values and beliefs
- Be ‘in the moment’ and discuss live issues to make it feel relevant and current
- Just have a nice chat
- And my coach pointed out the difference between coaching and mentoring to me – coaches help you find your own answers, mentors share their experiences in the context of you.
And some learnings from my most recent mentoring and coaching sessions
- Take the lead, define yourself and your role. Say ‘we’re going to do it this way unless you say otherwise’, then run with it.
- Ground your career plan in what you enjoy and are good at.
- When managing a large team be very clear about what you want them to do, then leave them to get on with it.
- When prepping for a meeting think ‘what is the most positive outcome of this meeting for me?’. It helps you stay on track, because you have a track, to get the desired result.
- I’m instantly excited about projects and get frustrated when they move slowly, so my coach suggested I am honest about that and plot out milestones of when my interest will peak again. It helps with managing stakeholders and my sanity!
- I’m also most productive and do my best work when busy and under pressure. I’ve learnt to schedule my diary so I have short bursts of productivity at my desk between meetings.
- Write your life plan. Sounds intimidating at first but if you do it conceptually it’s less so. Then decide what skills and experiences you need to achieve it. You can judge opportunities against it and make a clear, thoughtful decisions. That’s not to say you can’t deviate from it, but you can do it consciously and understand the reasons for it.
- Just because someone doesn’t shout at you or scare you doesn’t mean they don’t expect the very best from you.
- Create an environment for people to do great work, then get out of the way.