January was National Mentoring Month and we took the opportunity at Eiffage Kier to take stock of our mentoring opportunities, including our Reverse Mentoring programme.
As an update to Sarah McKee’s post about this on National Mentoring Day, mentoring duo Chris James (Community Engagement Manager) and Lydia Williams (Document Controller) give an insight into their mentoring relationship and what they have achieved so far…
Early on in my career as a section engineer I recall my project manager talking to me about training and development. ‘Grab any development opportunity you can,’ was his advice.
Fast forward 20 years to a conversation with our Communications Lead, Sarah McKee: ‘I wanted to tell you about a new programme we are introducing, have you heard of reverse mentoring?’ I hadn’t. ‘It involves a junior person in the workplace or new entrant to the industry mentoring a more experienced team member to support their development in areas such as modern technology, as the workplace is changing so fast.’’
I was instantly hooked; my head was swimming with ideas that a reverse mentor could help me with.
Shortly afterwards I was linked up with my mentor Lydia Williams, a document controller who has been at Eiffage Kier since September. We have had a few informal (and I’d even say ‘fun’!) meetings and have started to work together on a number of areas and objectives that I wanted to focus on, mainly relating to IT and the myriad of systems that we use. It has been such a great way to learn things that I usually avoid and our conversations have been very much two way. I really hope that Lydia has also benefited from my thoughts, views and experience.
Work colleagues have noticed a difference – jobs that I would normally put to the bottom of my ‘to do list’ (and therefore never get done) are now embraced with enthusiasm. My manager, Simon Matthews’s view was that ‘You can’t teach on old dog new tricks...’ something which I hope we are proving wrong!
Since I am in the very early stages of my career, when asked if I would like to become a reverse mentor, although I was somewhat apprehensive, I knew it was an opportunity I could not turn down. The chance to sit down one to one with a more accomplished colleague and be able to offer them guidance in areas they are lacking, while gaining invaluable advice has been so beneficial already. It’s also broken down a barrier between a younger and more senior member of staff who may otherwise have never spoken in such depth.
Sitting down with someone like Chris who has so much knowledge and industry experience has been both insightful and enjoyable. He has been completely open-minded and proactive in everything we have discussed and has made some tangible changes already (check his new and improved LinkedIn profile!). As well as his online presence and profile, we’ve worked on how he can manage his workload using technology. He has already smashed some of the goals that I have set him so far, such as making 100 connections on LinkedIn, leading me to continue to increase his targets and set his sights on new heights.
We have already covered a good amount of groundwork when it comes to the technological aspect of Chris’s goals, while also being able to have interesting conversations about Chris’ passion for volunteering, his working experience up until now and general advice about the industry. It’s a great way to both help out colleagues and get to know the people you work with, a rewarding experience I encourage everyone to have a go at.