Tuesday, 4 March 2008

I'll be there for you

I am very fond of the older versions of the Everyman library of books. Inside each one is a lovely scrolled line drawing of Good Deeds and the comforting words of Knowledge: "Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side."

It' s always nice to have a friend and guide. For personal issues most of us are lucky enough to have a friend or relative who will listen to our woes, help us get some perspective, and perhaps offer some suggestions. For work issues this can be trickier. Our friends may not know the ins and outs of our organisation and our role. For a critical, unbiased, knowledgeable view some of us may turn to a mentor or coach.

Mentors are often associated with student nurses, but everyone from pharmacists to doctors can benefit from having a mentor. You don't need to be new to your career or role. A mentor can be a useful sounding board to help you face particular issues, they can also help you move from role role to another. A mentor can help support you as you move into a management post, perhaps, or help you think through what step you need to take next in your career. A good mentor doesn't tell you the answers to any of your problems - they support you as you find your own way.

The CIPD has a factsheet on mentoring which explains what it is, and how coaching is different. The Coaching and Mentoring Network also offers definitions and other resources. TIN - the Improvement Network from the East Midlands has an area devoted to mentoring, coaching and facilitating. Healthcare Workforce has a mentoring framework looking at the benefits of mentoring, how a mentoring relationship works, and what makes a good mentor.

The National Institute for Innovation and Improvement has some mentoring case studies. They also have a coaching programme for senior leaders. The Nursing Standard has stories of students' experiences of being mentored.

If you are not in need of a mentor, then do think about being a mentor yourself. You'll learn from your mentee, you'll boost your own CV, it's really good for your communication and management skills and also boosts your confidence.

We have books in the library on mentoring and coaching - Coaching for Effective Learning, Coaching and Mentoring at Work, Effective Coaching in Healthcare and Everyone Needs a Mentor are just the tip of the iceberg. The Training and Development team can also help with mentoring and coaching.

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