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The benefits of mentoring: reintroducing the Oakleaf Partnership Mentor Scheme…

What do Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Luke Skywalker have in common? All have benefitted from having great mentors. Warren Buffett, Maya Angelou and Yoda in fact. I’m not going to reference Yoda, but Maya Angelou is quoted as saying: “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care…Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.” 

In a time where anxiety and uncertainty are rearing their ugly head more than ever, starting a new role in a new environment, with its own unique culture can seem particularly daunting.

Oakleaf Partnership initially started our Mentor Scheme following research into the HR market, interestingly, not long after the last recession when anxiety and uncertainty were sadly commonplace. It showed a need to enhance new employee’s success rates post appointment and, as importantly, a need to ensure they felt supported in their new career move. Those needs are ever more critical in our current climate.

Lots of organisations run their own mentor schemes, recognising the support a senior individual can give to a junior colleague as they progress through their career. In a recent article, Personnel Today highlighted two in particular.

Addleshaw Goddard is currently piloting an internal coaching programme, and offering more coaching and training to team leaders and managers around supervision and delegation of work.

Trowers & Hamlins are also planning a reverse mentoring scheme, helping its Generation Y and Z staff connect with senior leaders. Its mentoring schemes also bring people together across disciplines.

When you just want some reassurance in those daunting first few months, an external mentor can also be an ideal sounding board.

Recognising the additional challenges of starting a new role virtually in many cases, Oakleaf’s Mentor Scheme has been revamped this year. We now offer the support of an external mentor to candidates we have placed into permanent or fixed term contract roles at mid to senior levels. Our mentors assist candidates who have moved into a new sector, those wanting to broaden their HR network after moving abroad, or those who are playing a key role in establishing new HR functions in a growing business.

We are grateful to our network for supporting us to find great mentors and help those taking their tentative first steps into new (virtual) surroundings. We introduced Mateusz Duda, a Reward specialist who recently joined an investment bank to a Head of Comp in the same sector. His initial experience “has been really good. It’s been very beneficial to speak to someone from a similar background.”

Katie Righton was one of our first mentees and is still in touch with her mentor: "Oakleaf placed me in a new role, in a new industry to me (FS). They put me in touch with a fantastically experienced FS HRD - Adrian. Adrian has now supported me for 4 years and counting. He has always been available to be a sounding board for issues, share best practices, provide contacts, coach and guide. I'm really grateful to both Adrian and Oakleaf for this relationship, it has progressed my career and developed my skills on a number of levels".

Having a mentor can be a key element of career success and effective progression. Being a mentor is often equally rewarding and can offer different perspective, ideas and the opportunity to enhance your coaching and leadership skills while broadening your network.

A few years on from the initial set up of our Mentor Scheme and in similarly challenging times, Whoopi Goldberg’s quote on mentoring seems especially appropriate: “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

If you would be interested in helping one of our candidates find their way in their new role by being a mentor, please do contact me directly: garethevans@oakleafpartnership.com

(Image credit: shoutmeloud.com)

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