If there have been people in your life that have advised and guided you either in your work or your personal life you will know just how important that can be. If you are now at the stage in life where you have your own experiences and insights about life to draw on, don’t let this go to waste. Becoming a mentor and sharing your experience and expertise is a great way of offering other people the type of support that enabled you to succeed and thrive.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is all about using the experience and skills you have acquired to help others to achieve their goals and make the most of their talents.
David Clutterbuck, a leading HR consultant based in London and keynote speaker for leadership, coaching and mentoring within the workplace, describes a mentor as ‘a more experienced individual willing to share knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust’.
Becoming a mentor – what’s in it for you?
Although becoming a mentor does give you the perfect opportunity to pass on your knowledge and experience to a whole new generation, mentoring can be so much more than just giving. It can also be very rewarding and fulfilling. Knowing that you have helped someone make a positive difference to their lives is a reward in itself. Becoming a mentor is possible at any time in your career (it may even make you better at what you do) but if you are retired, mentoring can give you a real sense of purpose at a time when you may be feeling a bit lost and undervalued. Knowing that you have helped someone on their way to success or helped them to overcome challenges which were preventing them from moving forward, is very rewarding.
What makes a good mentor?
Becoming a mentor requires a variety of skills and qualities. For example you will need to:
- be resourceful
- have good organisational and problem-solving skills
- have patience and understanding
- be able to build a rapport with the people you mentor and build a trusting relationship
- have good listening and communication skills
- have respect for and empathy with the people you mentor
- have the ability to respond to the needs of the people you mentor
- have a flexible and open approach
- take the responsibility to drive and guide the process and ensure that it fulfils the needs of the person you are mentoring
- have the ability to identify and recognise the opportunities and solutions needed to help people realise their potential.
Types of mentoring
There are numerous opportunities for mentoring from helping and supporting disadvantaged people to offering advice to new and aspiring entrepreneurs or people who need some help and support to improve specific skills.
If you have business experience either within a company or as as business owner or you have experience in a specific industry, there are a number of organisations which will help you to find an opportunity which matches your skills and experience with relevant organisations. For example:
mentorsme.co.uk is a free service which help businesses find local mentors with the appropriate skills and experience. If you want to offer your services as a business mentor with mentorsme, the site includes a number resources including details of how to become a mentor and where to find suitable training. The site also has a search facility which enables you to look for mentoring opportunities within a particular area of Britain and within a particular area of expertise.
The Aspire Foundation offers women and men with a corporate or small business background the opportunity to give something back by mentoring aspiring women from the charities and social enterprises sector. The Aspire Foundation mentors are women and men from all levels in corporations and small businesses and come from organisations as broad as Avanade, Morgan Stanley, Centrica, Ford Motor Company, AstraZeneca and Unilever.
As a mentor with The Prince’s Trust you will have the opportunity to provide one-to-one support for up to a year to a young person looking to move into employment, education or training when they have completed a Prince’s Trust programme.
Ixion Volunteer Mentors supports start-up entrepreneurs who have been unemployed for a while and who have decided to take the plunge and set up on their own in business. The candidates sometimes lack confidence and so part of the role of a mentor is to help inspire and promote confidence. Ixion Volunteer Mentors also supports people who are unemployed and seeking a job or ex-offenders who are seeking support and a job. This requires less knowledge of a business compared to supporting enterprise start up’s with more emphasis on positive motivation.
Sported! is one of the leading Sport for Development charities in the UK supporting over 3,000 community clubs and groups that use the power of sport to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people. As a volunteer mentor you would get the chance to apply your professional skills and experience to help Sported members overcome their operational challenges and become better equipped for the future. These club leaders and volunteers are skilled coaches and do some amazing work in their communities but they typically don’t get the support or time to develop their organisations in areas such as business planning, financial management or governance and so it is here that you could make a difference.
There are a number of opportunities for becoming a mentor within the charitable and social sectors – these opportunities typically involve working with young disadvantaged people. For example:
ReachOut is a charity that changes the lives of young people from disadvantaged communities in London and Manchester through mentoring. The ReachOut mentors provide academic support and character education to help young people get a better start in life and go on to achieve future goals.
MentoringPlus trains and supports adult volunteers to mentor 7 – 21 year olds needing extra support with family, education, emotional needs and employability.
Trailblazers is a national charity that reduces re-offending among young people through volunteer mentors. They are always on the look out for mentors who can commit to at least a year with the charity.
The Young Lives Foundation trains their volunteer mentors to motivate, guide and assist young people considered to be at risk of offending, socially excluded or in need of support.
Useful links for becoming a mentor
The Coaching and Mentoring Network is a free web-based information resource dedicated to the broad field of coaching and mentoring. Subscribers can join the coach and mentor referral service to promote their services as a coach and to find like minded colleagues for peer consulting, supervision and networking. Take a look at their become a coach/mentor page for tips on how to become a mentor.
Get Mentoring provides a free Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring training. This training ensures that you’re prepared to take on the role of a mentor. It will introduce you to the skills and knowledge you’ll need to be an effective enterprise mentor.
National Mentoring Day was launched to celebrate mentoring with a key focus on recognising excellence and raising awareness on the significant benefits of mentoring to encourage more people to get involved in mentoring. It takes place on the 27th October each year.