5 minutes with a mentee
Jo Fox, Marketing & Communications Manager at Community First Yorkshire
Why did you decide to become a mentee?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure about being a mentee at first. I felt that it was a sign of weakness, that colleagues would think that I needed help and that I was struggling with my role. However, that isn’t what being mentored is about. It’s a chance to gain a new perspective on your role, expand your skills and get support and advice from an expert in a safe and confidential space. I’m a total convert to mentoring and one of its biggest advocates!
How has mentoring changed your professional or personal life?
The biggest change has been in my confidence and belief in myself. I’m fairly new to a leadership role so having access to a sounding board – especially someone who is outside your organisation – is so valuable. It’s been great to be able to say to someone that being a leader can be really hard and have someone else say: ‘That’s because it IS hard!’
What new thing have you learned?
Sometimes you can get so focussed on delivering your service, hitting targets and meeting deadlines that you can forget to look at the bigger picture. I’ve learnt to take a step back and think big, and most importantly remember to ask ‘why’.
What top tips would you give to someone considering having a mentor?
Be prepared to be surprised.
The issues you think you want to discuss with your mentor may not be the ones you focus on. My meetings with my mentor have been very explorative and it’s been the things that I didn’t realise I needed to discuss that have been the most useful.
Be prepared to be challenged.
Being a mentee can take you out of your comfort zone. My mentor challenges me and I sometimes find our conversations hard. But it’s a relationship based on trust – we can have frank conversations and I’m able to ask questions that are sometimes difficult to do of your line manager.
Be willing to tap into a wider network of support.
The Community First Yorkshire Leadership Mentoring programme has been great as it’s provided all the support I’ve needed – from an initial training session on what to expect from our mentors, our responsibilities and how to start conversations; to signposting to support and resources on the Leadership Mentoring hub. There’s also a LinkedIn group allowing us to connect with other mentees on the programme and share questions and ideas.
We are now taking applications for the next cohort of our popular Leadership Mentoring programme, which starts in October. Find out more here.