Why You Should Mentor

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

Today I’m running a Workshop on Mentoring Skills at the CIPD Regional Steps Ahead Summit in Manchester. With over 4,000 mentees already in the programme, 7 out of 10 young people find employment after engaging with Steps Ahead and the CIPD credit local mentors with this success.

It’s got me thinking about Mentoring again, and why it is one of the most important roles anyone can play, personally, professionally and socially. My first deep-dive into mentoring started in 2008, project managing the internal Mentoring scheme for the Scottish Government. When I first took over, it was a small and fairly exclusive affair, designed for the those who showed high potential to be introduced and mentored by Senior Leaders they might not otherwise get access to. It was an excellent scheme, with good training and careful matching… and it had the potential to be so much more…

By the time we handed the Mentoring Scheme over in 2012, we were working with over 400 matched pairs internally and had established other mentoring relationships across the Public Sector in Scotland. The scope of the Scheme had grown to enable specialist mentoring groups to access and use both the scheme and the training content, from LGBT groups to the General Legal Council.
We achieved this by talking to people and finding out what was needed. To encourage interest & also self-selection, I was running 1 hour briefing sessions, 4 times a day, one day a month. This meant potential Mentors and Mentees could hear what it was all about and meet other mentors and mentees, at a time that suited them, and decide for themselves if this was something useful.
Mentors were trained – full day covering skills, ethics, role of mentor and peer support networks
Mentees were trained – 3 hours on what to expect, what to bring, role of the mentee.
If I had my time again, I’d use video footage, podcasts and other things to get the message out, but it was 8 years ago and we are in a different time….

It was an astonishing thing to watch as it grew. The skill and the will of the Mentors, the questions and hunger of the mentees. The tricky issues they faced together, the championing of mentees, the respect for mentors… not all the relationships worked. We put guidance and clarity in for what happens if you are stuck, or it’s done… and sometimes the issues weren’t mentoring ones and these needed to be worked through by mentors and mentees

And as ever, when I became aware I was espousing the good stuff about mentoring, but wasn’t ACTUALLY doing it myself, I started looking at where I could Mentor.

Napier University runs a Mentoring programme for students from Non-traditional background who are about to Graduate. They researched the correlation between successful Graduate Employability and if, for instance, you are the first in your family to go to University, or in a minority group.

 I’m about to do the research a horrible disservice and I can’t find it on Google – so if anyone knows better, please comment below- but broadly the research said: Students from non-traditional backgrounds often see their degree as the goal and stumble slightly at the Employability stage – in other words, if you come from a family who have already done the degree thing, your parents, siblings etc are already pushing you think about the job-at-the-end.. whereas if you are the first ever to go to uni, that alone can be seen as the pinnacle for a while… add on to that if you are from a minority group, all the known barriers to entry and the current difficulties around social mobility in the UK… and these Graduates need a helping hand.

I had the privilege of working with two young women. Each for a year. Each with very different needs and backgrounds. My mentorship involved many coffees, working through application forms, challenging lots of “no. I can’t. that is too audacious” type thinking. I set up a mock panel interview. I help organise a visit to local businesses and got them talking to other Graduates. It was tough at times, figuring out what the right thing to do might be and not getting involved in some of the family dramas that played out in these young womens’ lives… I’m eternally thankful to Claire Bee at Napier University, who was boundlessly positive and supportive in times of doubt.

What I brought was experience, a different perspective, a belief in my mentees, the willingness to listen and offer thoughts and views…. I brought action-orientation, I pushed them to go explore.. Practical stuff like the interview was great… the fall-out learning from it was harder than expected for the mentee and there was a lot of work around confidence and determination….but that’s part of any journey.

What I learned was probably as much as I offered. Applying my coaching training… but also bringing myself in a different way. The actual difficulty of getting a job at the start was brought back home to me, and then add the barriers they faced and I have nothing nothing nothing but respect and awe for these young women. I learned what it’s like to be invested in someone’s future in a different way to friends or family. And how there is nothing quite like the moment your mentee texts you to say: I got it.

Think about what you have to offer someone – someone younger or older, someone in the same field as you or in a different situation… and if you can find a way to offer your time, your skills and your energy? Do it.

More information on the CIPD Steps Ahead programme here:

Gearing up for the Learning Show

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This week is one of my favourite conference events of the year. The CIPD Learning & Development Show kicks off at London’s Olympia Conference Centre on Wednesday (see #CIPDLDShow)

The show is, in many ways, in its infancy – this is the third year the show has unabashedly focused on all things organisational learning and change, expanding the professional conversations about all things People in the workplace from an HR focus, to a broader platform.

I have the honour of being on the “Blog Squad” – attending seminars and sessions and reporting in real-time on much of what is being said (I usually report out on Twitter… colleagues @Kingfishercoach @Wildfigsolns & @PhilWillcox tend to be fast-fingered on the keyboard & do proper reporting blogs. My efforts are more of the tweet/storify sort). Over the last two years it has been a real source of learning, joy (and sometimes exhaustion after 2 days of listening and meeting folk) to be involved in these events. I’ve been privileged to hear some world class speakers, been party to case studies which have supported or challenged my thinking and had the chance to meet up with colleagues and friends within the profession. I’ve had the joy and camaraderie of working alongside some of the best practitioners in the UK, who Blog and report on their own time – and mostly meet to charge devices and eat cake in the Media Rooms.

So, in the esprit de corps, I’m going to do the thing where I bestow some hints & tips for those attending the upcoming show.. covered rather beautifully in the graphic above by the glorious Rachel Burnham @BurnhamLandD

Download the App – Trust me, if you have a day or two days, over 160 suppliers and 50 free learning sessions to choose from in the Exhibition alone.. an App telling you where you are, where others are and what time stuff is happening is just flat helpful.

• Go to the Exhibition & go to the free sessions You can pick up a lot from the short presentations and Case Studies. My own favourites include the Ignite sessions ( 5 minute presentations from a range of practitioners on a range of topics – 20 slides. 15 seconds per slide – see Wednesday Afternoon 15.55pm in the Topic Taster area) and if you are up for it & there alone – try Speed Networking as a means to get to know folk.

• Go counter to where your interest lies – Have a rough plan of who you want to see and why – but go for a couple of wild-cards too. It’s a Learning Show – go Learn new stuff. Push yourself to see something you don’t quite understand or believe in. You might be surprised at what you hear and find.

• Look after yourself – Take water, comfortable shoes and make sure you find some quiet time to reflect and check you are getting what you need from the Show.

• Follow the hashtag #CIPDLDshow / try to tweet a little if you haven’t before, or find someone who will help you do it.

• Speak to people – if you are feeling lost and like you are wandering aimlessly and somehow “everyone know what they are doing/ is having a better time than me” – go find someone friendly to talk to, even if it’s the good people who serve the coffee… or grab me if you see me wandering by looking lost myself. Conferences are made by the conversations they generate. Go have some.

On Wednesday evening, the (now annual) @LNDconnect aftershow meet up will happen – we have nearly 100 people booked to come. The @CIPDEvents team have very kindly sponsored some nibbles & generally being supportive of all things LNDconnect – huge thanks to them. We’ll be asking people to think of future #LDsight questions and mull on agile learning & the Conference for the CIPD team.

Follow @fuchsia_blue the #CIPDLDshow on Wednesday 11th & Thursday 12th May
I’ll see you there x

Leaders In Learning – My Take

I spoke at the inaugural CIPD Leaders in Learning Network event in Edinburgh on Thursday. 7 minutes on The Value of a Leaders in Learning Network.
Not sure I was entirely on-topic & certainly sure I didn’t hit all of the points below, but in essence, this is what was covered.
I’m increasingly interested in the social, emotional and connected/relational elements of how we work – and how little these elements show up in our organisational planning and actually how essential these elements are.

Face to Face Professional Networks can, I feel, be stuffy and formal… I wanted to lay down alternative ideas.

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My name is Julie Drybrough – I’m Director of a Organisational Learning & Change consultancy here in Edinburgh
In many ways I’m not here because of what I do – I coach, facilitate, consult, just like thousands of other people. I’m here partly because of How I work – through networks, through Social Media, Collaboration and Partnership. I particularly work in the “learning” field. I work with methodology which values and incorporates the Social, Emotional and Relational elements of working in human systems over Process elements…. basically I don’t do gangtt charts..

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CONTEXT
In some ways, there has never been a more interesting or potentially impactful time to be working in Organisational Learning – with rapidly changing markets and political landscapes; faster access to our organisations by customers or service users & the ever-presence of Social Media, folk internally have never needed the access to structured, guided learning more.

Information is everywhere.

It has never been more important to draw peoples’ attention to the good content that will help them learn and understand how to be the best manager, leader and person that they can be.

The good news is, as Leaders in Learning – this stuff is happening on our shift & the opportunities to offer good stuff well is immense.
The slightly more nerve-wracking news is – this stuff is happening on our shift and we have some responsibilities – mainly to keep up & to learn ourselves

I have a short amount of time, what I want to do is give two examples of where we, as leaders in learning and part of this network, might just be able to make a difference in this context.

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THE L WORD
130,000 books on Amazon last night with Leadership in the title.

Not sure how much your leadership/ management development budget is.. but we throw a vast amount of cash at getting our people developed.
And it’s questionable whether our current methods work….

Here are some heroic leaders – A Super Man. A Wonder Woman and a Slightly Dark Knight

We train leadership as though it is a theory to be learned – as though it is something that happens “out there”, abstract and distant. You can be Situational Leader, an Adaptive Leader, Action-centred…..

In these models, the leader is always active – always responding & nearly always alone – no option to do nothing, observe and gather information, no option to go find out from other people what they do. This is Leadership with your Pants on the outside – no fear, no doubt, no emotion – and these are models we push in to our organisational thinking.

But for me, leadership doesn’t happen in theory – it is a practice – something we need to do everyday. It’s about being aware of yourself, your impact, your flaws and your perfections. It doesn’t happen “out there” someplace, it happens “in here, starting with us – our budding leaders need confidence, understanding of themselves – how do they cope with ambiguity, with structure, with conflict? With praise?
How do we talk to our people about the emotional, social and relational part of being in an organisation with a bunch of other people?

Networks like this one have the opportunity to let us, as the Learning function in the organisations or client systems we work in, talk about this stuff – how do we make Leadership Development real? What do we need to do to think a little differently? Who’s doing stuff that is interesting? Different?
How can we spend our budgets really wisely?

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The More Useful L Word?
It could be Love… but I’m talking about Learning
In 2014, I brought 2 Unconferences to Scotland through an online Network of Practitioners, L&D Connect.

Unconferences are premised that the people who show up have as much knowledge, experience, expertise, opinions as the normal Conference “sage on a Stage” types.

We may not have written books – but we damn sure understand what it is to successfully upskill and transfer knowledge to our people – and we can learn as much from each other as from El Guru on the podium – maybe more, because we’ve sat with each other, talked together and thought together, rather than being talked at.

This is learning in an informal space – it’s allowing conversation, connection, shared ideas, existing ideas to flow between interested and invested people. It’s not bound, but it has structure. This is the power of social, connected learning.

People left with profound insights – some left reassured, some left with wee experiments.. the point was, our thinking was shifted – challenged.. supported – and new possibilities happened – we want change in organisations – this is one way to make it happen…. Imagine if this network could do something similar?

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Networks and Connections = New Ideas
In the past 3 years, much of my thinking, my work, my contacts have developed and been challenged through a Community of Practioners I have found through Social Media – Including Andy here. This is a photo taken at Happy Start-up Camp in September year. My dear colleague Sarah Boyd and her business partner, Oli Pointer are both here –I met them through Social Media.

If I have seen further it has been by standing on the shoulders of giants… or more prosaically reading blogs or articles or going to events that challenge me to be bigger, better, faster more….

We have an opportunity, in this Network, to do some amazing work. The Scottish Leaders in Learning Network could become a hub for experiments, for new practice, for challenging discussion – the Go-To place to keep our professional learning edge sharp.

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Open/ Network/ Learn/ Share
So here’s the thing.
From one relentlessly curious learner to you all.
We are all in the same room, in the same profession, with vastly different experiences and expertise – what can we do if we are open with each other, if we share and learn form each other?
What richness could we create?
What inspiration and innovation could we take back to our organisations?

What’s the Value of Leaders in Learning?
Let’s see what we can do…

Notes from a Conference…

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What is there left to write about the CIPD’s 13th Annual Conference in Manchester last week?  The CIPD Social Team did a first-rate job of ensuring a plethora of bloggers & Twitter aficionados were present at sessions. This means that instant reactions to Speakers and content were picked up through real-time tweets & blogging; followed by slower, more reflective pieces released as the days passed.

Much of the work has been brilliantly gathered and curated by Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1)here: http://cipd.tumblr.com

It has been covered, and excellently, by the Bloggers, Tweeters and Press who attended. This means that, more than any conference I have been to in recent times, there is a archive of material to be looked over by attendees and non-attendees alike. I rather enjoy the openness of this.

And yet the experience was such that I find I want to write about it.

As ever with me, I spent the day in a slight bubble – watching and thinking carefully about what was around me; being as aware as I can be of what I saw and sensed. So here are some of my thoughts and experiences:

Opening & Closing:

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The Keynote opening speech left me with mixed feelings. I was lifted by the ambition of Creating the Best Workplace on Earth. Yes. That is something I want to hear about. It’s something I want to be involved in. I’m warm to this already.

With Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones speaking, I felt in safe hands. They know their stuff. They’ve done the work, both intellectually and actually. I connected to what I heard. At the point at which we were invited to Be Yourself. More. With Skill. I was Tweeting “yes. Bloody Hell Yes.”

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But I also had a sense of disquiet. One of – well you are kind of telling me Things I Know. Things that Make Sense. Is this not what we already know good leadership to be?

I was tweeting questions – Yes, but HOW do we do this? It sounds easy. Yet is difficult.  I was grappling with what I suspect many of us grapple with when faced with a glorious vision – the sinking knowledge that beyond that which looks glorious are a bunch of other sensory encounters to get through– how it feels, smells, tastes and sounds to be in the mix of making it so.  And these can be equally sweet or sour, I would offer. Therein lies resilience.

And then I remembered being in the audience at the CIPD Conference in Harrogate 15 years ago and being swept away by big ideas (some just like this) and how grateful I was that someone had articulated these for me. And how it inspired me as a new Practitioner. So I found myself grateful for the invitation to Create the Best Workplace on Earth.and I want to keep up that invitation. To myself. To others around me. Even if I have to repeat it a thousand times and to folk like me who are more immune to being invited to Create Better Workplaces because we hear it and work with it on a day to day… We don’t get all breathless and excited about our potential to affect change any more….. That invitation, that noise and that repetition is important.

So here’s my reflections about my own part in Creating the Best Workplaces on Earth:

    • I must not shrug off the Things I Know as being Done Before, insignificant or “just things”.  I serve no one well from that space.
    • I must not dismiss the invitation to Create the Best Workplace on Earth as being a pipe dream, altruistic, foolish or unachieveable.
    • I equally must not assume that the Creation of such a place will not take hard work – Quite simply, it will.
    • I must show up and help make it happen. Every day. With humour and grace.
    • I must bring what I know and what I think. I must be prepared to fight, to influence, to argue my point.
    • Anything less does not affect change. It allows apathy, cynicism and status quo.

So OK, Goffee & Jones. You got me. Now what?

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It wasn’t until the closing speech that the “How do we do this?” itch was scratched for me. Andy Lancaster (@andyLancasterUK) from Hanover Housing had a title less lofty than the Best Workplace on Earth. But by talking about Increasing the Impact of Internal Management Development Programmes, he demonstrated how Hanover Housing might come close to being just that.

Their internal development programmes are built with clear purpose and aims, but co-authored with managers and staff. Collaboration is rife. Accreditation of courses gives vital qualifications to staff both in their current roles and in their future worklife. Partnerships with Consultants, who have been carefully chosen for a value and value-for-money fit, offer external support and fresh eyes to the programmes. It is an approach built with care and consideration all round and Andy talked about with the sort of dedication, good sense and clarity that I’m alluding to above.

It was a quietly inspiring way to close the day, for me. It opened with big ideas and DREAMS. It closed with real delivery and making a tangible difference.

You can find a Storify version of the Goffee & Jones’ speech here:

You can find a Storify version of Andy Lancaster’s session here:

Blogs on the Keynote can be found here:

The Exhibition.

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I went to the Manchester Exhibition 4 years ago. As an External Consultant there on my own, it was a lonely and slightly miserable experience. The people on stands were scanning badges to see what my status was (Not Buying seemed to be the response) and I vaguely remember going to a CIPD upgrade clinic where I started my application for Fellowship before losing the will to live ( I still haven’t upgraded, if anyone from the CIPD wants to help me, or listen to my views of the process, please let me know.) I went to a side discussion about Performance Management in the exhibition hall which left me ready chew my hands off because it was SO dull and pedestrian; yet I was surrounded by people I assumed were fairly fresh to HR taking reams of notes…the passivity of it all left me cold and worried about my Profession.

So I roamed the Exhibition hall this time round with a critical eye. What I saw this  year was some really innovative and inviting stands (Yes. People Management putting folk on the cover was a touch of genius. My Ego thanks you).IMG_5314

I saw massages and reki, cupcakes and lovehearts, bookshops and digital solutions. I saw side sessions that looked less like a repeat of my experience (the talk on Pensions wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was overflowing and the audience looked gripped).

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I saw Perry Timms (@perryTimms) in full flow and met a new-to-HR person later in the day, who confided in me that she had never really understood motivation, but after the guy with the Spiky Hair talked, she did.

I saw a profession alive and buzzing. . I saw people greet each other from way back and folk meet for the first time. I heard organisations looking to embrace technology to assist change. I saw old ways of doing, parked right beside new thinking. I heard people talk about that with curiousity. I felt part of something really rather dynamic with potential.  Later, I read blogs that were critically evaluative

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of what had happened. I read things that were fair, considered, that asked questions about diversity, about status quo, about pushing forward.

My experience was one of  people talking. Of change-in-motion.

I still saw some people who were wandering alone and looking vaguely like they weren’t included. I bumped into an ex colleague of mine who felt a little un-networked into the process. I wonder if, in the future, there can be more chat spaces specifically for those lone travellers ( as I once was) to say hello to each other without feeling awful about it?

 

 

Go Social

A Bevvy of BloggersI was genuinely honoured to be asked to take part as a blogger. I have been a member of the CIPD since 1998 ( dear God, how did I get so old?).  When I was an “in-house” Change Manager a Professional Body proved useful and supportive. These days, my  own local Branch in Edinburgh is strong, with a specialist People and Organisational Development Group running which is tailored to L&D and OD matters. But I have firmly been in the “what does the CIPD do for me?” camp for the last few years, especially since my Consultant status means I have little representation in the magazines or research. I have been adrift and was considering rescinding my Membership.

And so it is that through Social Media connections, through a growing network of people who share their days through Twitter and their thoughts through Linkedin, Google+, Storify, Facebook etc, I feel I am finding a community of Practice. A place I can discuss what is real for me and my clients. I have met people I hope will be in my life for a very very long time. I have been provoked. I have laughed. I have been moved beyond measure, but mostly, I have been lit up by a sense of being part of something happening – a national conversation in a Profession I believe could be better, stronger, more.

I am an advocate for Social Media. I am now an Advocate for the CIPD and how it is harnessing the people in the membership.

IMG_0027I kind of feel proud now that I was part of the incredible CIPD Hackathon that ran this year – ambitious, audacious and potentially ahead of its time. I don’t know any other professional body, or  public or corporate body that has sought to get the voices and opinions of the people affiliated to it in such a comprehensive way – but I’m sure I’ll hear more stories now I’ve asked….

I say ahead of its time, because something so big ( we’re hacking a Profession) and so new ( Hacking? What is this Hacking thing? Is that not a cough?) is easy to dismiss or doubt ( see comments and experiences on Goffee & Jones). I think it is only later that you can see the effects and start to get to the learning – at the time, you push and advertise and ask and experiment and just keep going.

As a Case study, it is fascinating. Many organisations could learn from it – good and bad – and at its heart, it was driven by social media and committed individuals. I’m cheering here. I’ve glimpsed the future. Actually, I took part in it too.

So I feel this could be three blogs. I’m roaming wide and long and I’m going to end here.

I must apologise to the excellent Rob Jones (@robjones_tring) of Crossrail , whose session on Leading Organisations through Change with his CEO Andrew Wolstenholme lifted my spirits and got me thinking.  I have not done you justice here. Please see the summary of the session here:

And to Peter Cheese (@cheese_peter) for not mentioning properly how he is in moving the Profession forward. I have SO enjoyed our conversations. Even when I’m thumping tables about “What does the CIPD do for me?”

And to whomever took the very first photo at the beginning of this blog – I “borrowed” it from Doug’s curated tumblr site and will give thanks properly, if you let me know who you are.

My end points are these:

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Please look at the work curated by Doug Shaw. There was a richness of content and involvement that, even if you are not a card-carrying fan of the CIPD, every organisation should be seeking

Think of your own part in Creating the Best Workplaces on Earth. If, like me, you are outside a bigger organisation, focus on making your own consultancy pretty bloody fabulous and work to really really push your clients to do the same.

Pay attention to Exhibitions and places people hang out together- what we do together often speaks way louder than what we say.

Go social – all the way. Find a way to harness your own capacity to use the rich voices and materials that are out there on line. In your business and for your people. If you are afraid – buddy up with someone. I have never met such a open, decent, maraudingly friendly bunch of folk as I have through the HR/L&D/OD people on Twitter.  They are dying to get you involved and genuinely excited about the potential of this Social Stuff. Try it. Honest.

In addition to those mentioned above here are more Bloggers and Social Media Press members involved:  @HRTinker (Tinker) @HRGem (Gemma Reucroft) @OdOptimist (Megan Peppin) @dds180 (David D’Souza) @Damiana_Hr (Damiana Casile) @KingfisherCoach (Ian Pettigrew) @SukhPabial (Sukh Pabial) @MervynDinnen (Mervyn Dinnen) @GrahamSalisbury (Graham Salisbury) @Workessence (Neil Usher) @NeilMorrison ( Neil Morrision) @Flora Marriott (Flora Marriott)  @RapidBI (Mike Morrison) @martinCouzins (Martin Couzins) Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone….

Read their blogs & follow them. Please.

As a PS: Buy this book (I put this in as not only can I now claim to have had a hand in a #1bestselling Kindle book, I am genuinely proud to be part of The Book of Blogs project and  to know the inimitable David D’Souza AND the money goes to Charity)

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