What even is that?
Starting with the basics, a standard definition of mentoring defines it as a process that is relationship-based and involves communication, where one more knowledgeable or experienced person guides and supports another. This is why we developed the mentoring programme at 4OC. We implemented mentoring as a platform so that the mentee could take responsibility for their own learning, defining their own goals and ambitions with some guided support, while from the mentor’s perspective it was an opportunity to get involved in developing, encouraging and supporting team mates.
Mentoring has many benefits across an organisation: primarily it aids in the personal and professional development of the mentee and, what we have found, is that it helps to improve job satisfaction and retention for both parties, the mentee and mentor.
Mentoring in 4OC
Bringing it to our more personal perspective. We kicked off the 4OC mentoring programme as part of a larger goal to improve our internal progression and development processes. We have designed this new progression process with the aim of encouraging self-driven development, while utilising the skills and expertise of our fellow 4OCers to provide support and to share their wisdom on a one-to-one basis.
We are ‘lucky’ that we have a wealth of talent, skills and experience in 4OC from across multiple sectors and functions, and we want to ensure that this knowledge is shared, both to our clients and across our teams. As we grow, we have an obligation to help colleagues feel supported and confident in driving their own progress.
How does it work?
Development at 4OC revolves around our Competency Framework. This document initially maps out how each competency relates to the role and responsibilities for each grade in the organisation. It’s a great tool to measure progress against your current role and identify areas of improvement. How we use it is largely down to each individual but it is structured to be dynamic and agile and highlight areas for the next step in your development. It is designed to be a resource to encourage regular review – it encourages you to actively track your progress as you gain more exposure to 4OC’s approaches, methods, and client project work.
What we have found is that you invariably reach a point where it is difficult to know what to do next to continue your development. This is where the role of the mentor comes in. The mentor can act as a second pair of eyes to observe your self-assessment and to help set SMART goals and targets so that you can demonstrate progress against all the competencies at your current grade.
The mentor will be someone at least a grade above the mentee and it is up to the mentee who they pick, or if they pick multiple mentors for different areas of the framework. The nature of the relationship between mentor and mentee is discussed between the two parties and an agreed plan is put in place.
Then what …
A key goal of the mentor programme, in conjunction with the Competency Framework, is to encourage progress and development. Once the mentee has demonstrated sufficient progress against each of competencies at their current role, and have accrued enough experience, they can be sponsored by their mentor to go the 4OC Progression Panel.
We actively encourage and are keen to see all our people progress in the organisation through this mentoring, supported by formal training and on the job training. At the Progression Panel, the mentee presents their case for promotion (or progression within a grade), with the backing of their mentor. The panel will then make a decision regarding if the member will be promoted. The aim of this whole process is to ensure the mentee is ready for a promotion by the time the meeting is scheduled. However, if they are not successful, we put a plan in place together to help the mentee develop in the areas that have been highlighted by the panel.
Mentoring is an integral part of the 4OC experience and one that we’ve all found insightful and valuable. But equally importantly, we’ve also enjoyed the process and now find ourselves looking forward to shifting to being mentors for those coming along after us. Mentoring is for everyone, no matter your experience and expertise, and we want to encourage you and your colleagues, friends, family and socially-distanced strangers, in whatever you do, to go out and find yourself a mentor (or whatever title best fits your needs!).
“My experience through the mentoring process for a promotion has provided me with support and valuable guidance through the Competency Framework. Through 1-2-1 sessions, Andrew was able to guide me through the skills and knowledge that were required for me to progress, as well as gaps in my progress. We created a development plan that gave me a clear direction and goals to achieve, which I could apply to project work and training.”
Saskia Clarke – Project Support Analyst to Junior Business Consultant
“It was a pleasure to work with Saskia as from day one it was clear that she was committed to develop and learn. While we used the Competency Framework as our guide, the success to the experience was keeping things informal, to build a rapport and understand what drives Saskia as an individual. We were able to then plot this against the competencies and demonstrate both where skills were met and development areas. My role to support Saskia was really enjoyable as she was really proactive and keen to learn. We are now looking forward the next stage of development and both keen to keep going!”
Andrew Smith – Mentor
“Although I have experienced mentoring schemes in previous organisations, the commitment and value which 4OC have in this scheme sets them apart from the rest. Development is vital for the motivation of colleagues and organisation health and growth. My experience has been nothing but positive, challenging my mindset, setting clear goals and achievable targets. We are lucky to have such a wealth of experience and knowledge here and it’s great we are given the opportunity to get to learn and develop from it.”
Natasha Dwane – Junior Business Consultant