Creating a mentor programme

The back story

 
Throughout my career I’ve advertently or inadvertantly acted as a mentor for someone. That’s 13 years of caring and nurturing many different personalities.
 
In the last two years I have broken through my impostor syndrome. I finally had room to accept that I had a mentor, even if they didn’t know it.
 
In the past I’d have tried to become that person thinking that if I was them, then I’d be as good as them.
 
That’s the wrong way to think about it. As humans, we’re unique in own right. We have different skills, different strengths and different short-comings.
 
If I could use my mentor to help develop my skills and evolve my strengths I would be in an excellent position. And if they could help me recognise any short-comings my growth could be interstellar.
 
I became a sponge.
 
Watching and listening became more key and these were skills I was already good at. My development has increased ten-fold. I fulfilled my own user needs.
 

Creating the programme

 
I had been the guinea pig. So now to focus on the people in my charge.
 
The personal and professional development of my team is paramount. I’m proud to say that I know each member of my team well enough to know what makes them tick.
 
One afternoon I sat down and made a 3 column table.
 
  • Column 1 – names of the people on my team
  • Column 2 – the skills, strength and short-comings I’d recognised
  • Column 3 – names of people who could suit as being a mentor to the team member
There were two simple rules.
 
  1. The mentor must be in a different area or department of government to that of the mentee
  2. The mentor must be at least 1 if not 2 levels above the mentee’s experience

Contacting potential mentors

 
I knew the people I was contacting. We’d likely have crossed paths somewhere in government or I’d had coffee with them. That isn’t to say that these people weren’t already mentors or had the time to do so.
 
The initial contact was made over Slack or email and went something like this;
 
Hi X, I mentioned I was setting up a mentor programme for my team. I’m on the hunt for mentors and you were on my list. Is it something you’re doing now, would think about doing or willing to do? I think it could be something like a 1hr hangout every six weeks with the mentee?
The response was better than expected. Everyone wanted to get involved.
 
There was something interesting about contacting the potential mentors. A couple replied back saying they were unsure if they had anything to offer.
 
I became a mentor again.
 
I jumped on the phone to guide and explain the process and my vision of what a future could look like. I’ll take you through that in a future post.
 

Can you set up a mentor programme?

 
Of course you can. I’ve shown how simple it was.
 
I will say that you may have one challenge. The matching.
 
If you don’t know your individual team members well enough the idea will become unstuck.
 
If you don’t know the potential mentors well enough the idea will become unstuck.
 
Take it slow, it’s a bit like a chess game.
 
If you have any questions, drop me a DM or an email.

Published by

Gavin

Head of Interaction Design at DigitalDWP.