A thoughtful and comprehensive article in Building magazine discussing the value of mentoring last month. The article articulates brilliantly the difference between 'career assistance' and mentoring, but also how the fundamentals of mentorship might be changing due to the pandemic. 

I have been fortunate enough to have had inspiring and effective mentors throughout my career, some of whom remain lifelong friends. During the pandemic, it is difficult for me to say whether the mentoring dynamic changed: so much for me, career-wise, changed at the same time. But I did notice that, having only recently met in person many people with whom I've been working for months, I immediately felt more connected to those colleagues. At the same time, it proved a catalyst for a colleague to become a mentor (on paper, at least, I was probably very much treating them as one already, and deeply appreciative of that!). So perhaps there is something in Iain's observation in the article that with the rise of hybrid working, "the concept and effectiveness" of mentoring might fall away. 

Sincerely I hope that will not be the case, and that maybe the brief window of in-person connectivity will have resurrected flailing mentoring arrangements! They have enormous value, and not only to the mentor and the mentee but to the organisations they belong to (a huge list of stats here). Mentoring also has a place in the dialogue on ED&I which many firms, including HKA, are currently engaging: it has a role to play in increasing social mobility and diversifying teams, by expanding the viewpoints of both mentor and mentee, as well as providing opportunities and increasing confidence. I am not an expert but to use a personal example: having a female mentor in a male dominated industry helped me to see that there was a place for me in that industry. (And I hasten to add, it is not about being taught to 'fit in', but to leverage your best skills and self for everyone's benefit!). A huge advantage is that the mentor relationship can be built across teams and industries because it is not necessarily about 'the day to day': I have also had a mentor outside of my industry, and they provided a sounding board different to my usual working environment which was invaluable. 

My own activity as a mentor to date has been rather ad hoc, and that is something I should remedy.  

It can be hard to prioritise mentoring programmes appropriately, as they do take time and commitment and the benefits might not be readily apparent on a day-to-day basis. From my experience, done right, they are worth every minute.