11 April, 2019
Being a mentor is something I had never considered. As a comms professional working in an agency, it can be all too easy to just stay busy getting projects off the ground and delivering results for clients.
But when it was suggested as something that I might want to look into, I jumped at the chance.
Besides being a good opportunity to share my 13 + years’ experience of PR for charities, I thought it would be nice to meet someone new and share stories of working in the sector.
I was matched with an ambitious young woman at the start of her charity career, working in a competitive senior media and PR officer role at one of the big charities.
The prospect of helping her navigate her role and career path sounded satisfying. And I welcomed the opportunity to get away from my desk a bit more.
Little did I know that being a mentor would give me time to reflect and actually make me a better manager.
We all have our own strengths – sitting down with my mentee on our first meeting and hearing how she cut her teeth in a local news room, I realised she had an amazing instinct for a good story. It was a useful reminder that we all have our strengths and can all learn something by checking our egos and listening to others. I always look forward to comparing upcoming stories when we meet.
We can always be better managers – during our second catch up my mentee said she was finding managing her team challenging. We talked about ways she could structure regular catch ups and provide feedback to help her colleagues. Hearing about her experiences of working with her managers and the support she found helpful made me reflect on my own management style and arrange more regular catch ups with staff off site.
Pausing to reflect can improve the way you work – finally, taking a bit of time away from my to do list to hear about someone else’s work has given me the chance to think objectively about tricky projects and the way I work.
Overall, mentoring has given me more pride in what I do. And shown me just how far I’ve come. I think everyone should have a mentor, and I feel lucky to have had a few. But having a mentee has persuaded me we all need one of those too, and if we’re open to the process, we might just learn something along the way. Mentoring is now something we’re offering to clients, providing an objective eye on projects and personal development. And it’s a role I really value.
Kate is part of the Charity Comms mentor programme: https://www.charitycomms.org.uk/my-career/peer-support-scheme