The IGC were delighted to offer a workshop with inclusion and belonging advisor, coach and author of 'How to Get Out of Your Own Way: For Women Who Want to Win' Sunita Sehmi, to guide members on how to get the best out of formal and informal mentoring.
The objective is not just for women to help women but see how we can all help each other to grow and feel that we can contribute our full talent to work. When we feel disconnected, disengaged or excluded, no-one wins.
The ground rules for the session also apply to workplaces where we are trying to build psychological safety and a learning environment – the more you share, the more others will dare; assume positive intent; stay curious, and bring your hard questions.
Distinguishing coaching and mentoring from psychotherapy, HR and a forum for complaints, Sunita Sehmi explained that professional and personal development is at the heart of effective mentoring. A mentor has the experience to share, but that may not just be years of professional experience - bringing a youth or diversity perspective to someone more senior is also valuable. No single person has all the answers! Less conventional relationships can dismantle knowledge hierarchies, encourage participation, and make all staff feel valued.
Same-gender peer mentoring has been shown to increase belonging, confidence, and motivation whilst senior-junior mentoring can open doors - bridging the 'broken rung' in workplace relationships which can hold women back. It can also connect employees to relevant outside resource groups such as young professionals' networks. Programmes do, however, need sponsorship from top leadership.
Trust, mutual regard and confidentiality are at the heart of all mentoring and coaching relationships. To make the most of time together, identify needs and set mutual goals, establish expectations, ground rules and a contact schedule. In the sessions themselves, listen and ask before advising. Each person has to make their own decisions. Both parties have to be accountable to one another. Sunita explained the 'GROW' model to give structure and think through goals.
If you want to coach or mentor someone else, the key message is that you must confront your own fears to be of service to others – listen with your whole body, ask good questions, challenge with compassion, develop with daring feedback.
Sunita's closing message: 'To walk the talk, we need to be the change agents'.
Watch the recording of the workshop to find out more!