Lee's blog: Mentoring Me

clock Released On 25 July 2023

Lee's blog: Mentoring Me

I have been through many many corporate training days, diversity training days, women in business seminars and management training courses in my career and so feel qualified to create a tick list of takeaways:

  • Work on a snappy introduction (3 sentences max!)
  • Choose your seat carefully (for me its away from the biscuits but close to the coffee)
  • Always go out for a walk on the break 
  • Turn off your work emails on your phone for the day

I also see themes and one of the most frequent things you hear on these courses is get yourself a mentor. And indeed every time I interviewed for promotion there was a question of “Have you got a mentor?”.

I have not had a formal mentor in my career. I always felt the matching process and the regularity of interaction was a very rigid format and not something I naturally felt was authentic to me. However I have a network of people who I consider as my informal mentors, the people I immediately turn to if I am unsure about my next step or I have a work or personal problem I need to work through. These people are colleagues, ex colleagues and peers. They all share a common characteristic – they are not directive or prescriptive with their advice. They challenge me to think through solutions, offer alternative views or in some cases reassure me that I can trust my own instincts. Although it does not tick the “has a mentor” tick list this method and style of natural mentorship works really well for me and allows me to learn from many styles and approaches to work.

Formal mentoring was not my thing until I was offered a maternity mentoring package through my work wellbeing service. My initial reaction was uncertain but I signed myself up to a program that involved two pre maternity leave sessions, two phone sessions during maternity leave and two return to work sessions. Contrary to all the other times I needed advisory in my career this was a time when I craved direct and prescriptive guidance – stepping out of a role I had spent years building up to, handing over control in work to a temporary cover and handing over control at home to a tiny human was alien to me. The maternity mentor was invaluable. In the first session she voiced aloud every single internal thought I had been having about managing the change in my status. She gave me practical tips, gave me formats for having work and home based conversations around expectations and boundaries and facilitated a conversation with my boss on how we could work up to and after my maternity leave.

The takeaways from maternity mentoring have stuck with me and I often refer to them when helping friends or colleagues through the maternity transition period particularly on the return to work side:

  • Be clear on your boundaries while on maternity leave – do you want work updates and how often, do you still want to attend social events, do you plan keeping in touch days?
  • Recognise that you cannot be 100% parent and 100% employee – you need to find a balance that works
  • Never apologise for putting your family first – apologies imply you have done something wrong!
  • Treat your home like a business – prioritise your core business and delegate or outsource everything else.
  • Know and communicate your red lines – this can be difficult and can change as parenthood changes – initially mine was no flexibility on my parental leave time, now I am more flexible but I will not miss my childrens dinner/bedtime hours for work.

The two approaches to mentoring have shown me that mentoring is not one size fits all structure and that there are times I need to mentor myself and times I need mentoring. Maybe the next step could be to mentor others!

Lee is a mum, accountant, coffee lover and sometimes runner. She is married, has two young girls and works mostly remotely for a London based bank.


No Comments

Add Comment


We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website. Please read our cookie policy to find out more.