We always need more mentors. The time commitment per mentee is typically one to two hours per month for a period of six months.
Introducing two mentors
Rachel Lewis is from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). She is quite new to the Civil Service but having worked in communications all her life, she’s definitely got that experience to share. She mentors two people on the programme.
Graham Leftwich is from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), based in Nottingham. He currently mentors a person on our programme.
Why did you decide to apply to the GCS Mentoring Programme?
I’ve done some coaching and mentoring before and I know that it can be really beneficial. As communications people – we’re used to sharing stories that inspire others so sharing your own personal journey to where you are in your career now can really help others navigate their career path.
Also mentoring is not something I had available to me early in my career, so I think it’s great that GCS runs a mentoring programme and I wanted to help in some way.
The opportunity to give something back. I have been mentored earlier in my career and found it really valuable. As a manager, I get a thrill from helping people in my team grow and develop, and mentoring allows me to do that with people whose paths would otherwise likely not cross with mine.
How has being a mentor helped you? Have you had a mentor yourself?
By helping your mentees develop and grow, you also get to learn just as much yourself about how things are done in other parts of the Civil Service which is always a bonus.
Even if you haven’t mentored before you will be surprised how much you get out of it when you do venture into being a mentor.
Mentors have helped me address specific work issues by working through a problem with someone who has no axe to grind and can take a dispassionate view. I hope I’m able to do the same for those colleagues I’m working with.
I’m pleased to say that several people I’ve mentored in recent years have been promoted since, and I like to think I have played some small part in that.
Would you recommend being a mentor for the Programme? Why?
Yes, you might think this will take time, but although at least one face to face meeting is recommended, depending on where your mentee is based, you can do this by phone calls and emails. It’s good to see people’s confidence grow after sharing your own experiences.
Yes, in my experience, the mentor gets just as much from the experience as the mentee.
What qualities are necessary to be a good mentor?
Being able to ask questions that can help the mentees think about what it is they want to get out of their career, or what they want to know more about, is a useful skill to have.
It’s also about sharing your experience to give them more confidence. For instance one of the mentees had just started managing someone and now found themselves in a role where they were having to manage working relationships more than before. So just being able to talk those situations through from different viewpoints helps the mentee.
Being a critical friend – a good listener, willing to challenge. Part of our roles as communicators is to hold a mirror up to the organisation; a mentor does the same, and then helps their mentoring partner find their way forward.
Do you have any tips on how to build an effective relationship with your mentee?
Just keep in regular contact and ask them at different points what other support from the mentoring they might need. Being interested in their progress is also really important.
Find out about them as a person – what’s important to them, what they are passionate about, their hopes and fears. Agree upfront what’s up for discussion and what, if anything, is off limits. And agree what we want to achieve in the time we are working together.
Do you have any suggestions on how to make the most of this experience?
If you’ve been working in the Civil Service Government Communication Service for a while then you will have more than enough experience to share. Even if you haven’t, sharing experiences from working in other organisations will be equally beneficial.
What have you got to lose? Just do it.