Aug 19

Developing opportunities through mentoring

Posted: 20 August 2019

Graham Woodham, Programme Head for the Regulated Professional Workforce at Skills for Care, discusses the benefits of mentoring and how it can help you to develop your staff.

There’s a million and one questions that often pop into our minds if we feel anxious or uncertain about something new or challenging. Do I have the right knowledge? Am I going to make a fool of myself? Will I be able to deal with people’s questions?

So, wouldn’t it be great if staff had someone to talk to? The introduction of a mentoring programme has many potential benefits; both mentors and mentees can find the process to be a great way to build confidence and gain valuable skills.

Mentoring programmes provide a forum for mentors and mentees to meet on a regular basis, to engage in discussions that support self-development. This can help mentees to move forward by taking ownership of the solution to a situation. It’s really all about developing opportunities as well as solving problems.

At Skills for Care, we’ve been running a mentoring programme for some time. It’s part of a wide range of support and learning opportunities that colleagues can access.

Our mentors have developed management skills and feel more “in touch” with people across the organisation. This is wonderful to see and shows how investing in the development of your staff through mentoring is a way to explore opportunities and reap the many benefits.

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about running a mentoring programme:

  1. Mentoring is something that staff need to want to do! Mentees will be supported and challenged in equal measure. The focus will be on where they want to get to and not what the mentor feels they need to learn. It’s a partnership where they will be encouraged to take control of their own development, try things out, learn from mistakes and benefit from the advice and support of the mentor.
  2. It’s an option to consider when staff identify an area for development that may be more beneficial than sending them on a training course, depending on the need of the mentee and experience of the mentor.
  3. Mentoring is not part of line management. Mentors should be from another part of the organisation, and it’s not their job to report back on what mentees are learning. Mentoring creates a space which is confidential and safe, within which people can talk through ideas, experiment with new ideas and try again if necessary.
  4. Mentoring can help staff take a step forward by linking them with someone who has the knowledge and expertise to help work through their development needs.
  5. Mentoring can have an impact in the here and now. The programme at Skills for Care includes several sessions within a planned period of time. So, this really is about looking at an identified development need and doing something about it.
  6. Those acting as mentors gain just as much as those receiving the support. Often mentors reflect on the two-way learning process, so it's part of their continuing professional development too. And, of course, they also feel valued as they will be trained and supported as mentors.

Workshops to help you become a confident mentor

Being trained as a mentor gives you the opportunity to mentor others, whilst learning new skills, developing greater self-awareness and reflecting on your practice.

By attending this workshop, you will gain the knowledge and insight to help others develop in their role.

This workshop is open to anyone working in adult social care who is interested in training to become a mentor or is looking to set up a mentoring programme in their organisation. In particular, managers, directors, supervisors and human resource representatives might find it useful.

Find out more here and book your place.

For more information on ways to develop your staff, follow our campaign here.