The role of mentoring during uncertain times

As our sector rallies together to support those who are perhaps out of work, feeling unsettled, or for those who need some guidance and support, who better to turn to than your peers. Last week, we shared an article exploring the need for resilience. This week, we welcome Ed Johnson, CEO of Pushfar.com to explore the benefits of mentoring.

THE AUTHOR

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Mentoring has, time and time again, proven itself as an incredibly powerful learning tool for organisations to implement, offering employees true, personal, and authentic support. It is now, more than ever, that organisations and individuals alike are turning to mentoring, to get them through these trying and uncertain times.

So far in 2020, there has been huge growth in mentoring both for individuals engaging with it and organisations turning to it as a way of ensuring engagement and support. In fact, between April and June this year, PushFar saw an incredible 98% increase on the number of people engaging with mentoring, compared with the same time last year. In this same vein of uplift, we have spotted dozens of organisations of all shapes and sizes, rolling out their mentoring offering this year. So, why the sudden increased interest in mentoring?

It is fair to say that there is a lot of uncertainty out there right now. Individuals are being furloughed and losing their jobs, organisations are struggling to pivot into this strange world we’re in at present and those who are left trying to bail out the businesses, keep things afloat and hope of turning things around, have a mammoth task ahead of them. When an organisation goes through any major restructuring, the learning curve is undoubtedly steep. And when this happens, organisations often turn to external resources for support. They’ll hire coaches, management consultants and external HR agencies to navigate through such a change. Yet more often than not, a business will already have an incredible array of internal knowledge and skills available through their own workforce. Mentoring is the way an organisation can truly leverage this.

A mentor, simply put, is someone who shares their knowledge, skills and experience, to help another to progress and develop. So, imagine if every employee in an organisation was a mentor to another individual within said organisation? Suddenly, the knowledge transfer is significantly greater, and skills gap left when a restructuring process takes place, is significantly reduced. This is where the true power of mentoring comes into play and where mentoring fits in so beautifully at any time, but particularly during times of uncertainty.

For an organisation, leveraging mentoring can also be seriously cost-effective. External trainers, coaches and consultants cost vast sums of money. It can take a long time for external sources to understand specific organisational cultures, strategies, objectives and processes. These are all things that an employee, and internal mentor, will already have a firm grip on. They have been working in the organisation for 1, 2, 3+ years and know what works and doesn’t. They know where the issues are and how to overcome certain challenges.

At the same time, the benefits for an individual in having access to a mentor, as well as mentoring others, are considerable. Yes, being mentored will give an individual access to knowledge and skills that they may otherwise miss out on, but in providing every employee with a mentor, you give them an additional channel of support and communication which can be so important. When an individual has access to a mentor, they have another support resource. Employees can be fearful of speaking to managers about concerns and challenges they face. This is entirely understandable. Raising concerns and challenges, an employee may feel it could have a knock-on effect to career progression, salary increases and promotions. Of course, it shouldn’t, but it sometimes does.

A mentor acts as a counterbalance to this predicament a lot of employees find themselves in, particularly when their mentor is in a different department, office, or even different country. That support of a mentor is an individual who can objectively assist, without fear of judgement or a knock-on negative impact on career development. Quite the opposite, in fact.

On the flip side, being a mentor can be highly-rewarding. When we mentor others, we learn and grow just as much. Our interpersonal skills can improve greatly, we can equip ourselves with a wider-organisational understanding if we mentor someone in another department, and furthermore we can reinforce best-practice actions we already know about but easily forget.

And for those individuals who find themselves furloughed or out of work? Yes, mentoring is just as important. A mentor with experience can guide an individual through these turbulent times, often having been through similar economic downturns in previous years, and give reassurance, advice and support.

So, if you aren’t looking at mentoring, isn’t it time you considered how it could help you, your organisation or your network during the coming months? We know a lot of organisations which certainly are.

Ed Johnson is CEO at Pushfar.com, a mentoring software and technology company. Pushfar provides users with an open mentoring platform, where anyone can sign up free to find a mentor, volunteer to mentor others, network, connect and develop their career, with a whole host of career progression tools and techniques.

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