What is mentoring?
Mentoring is relationship oriented and development driven. A mentor is often referred to as an off-line sounding board, someone who is outside of any line management structure, providing a safe environment where the mentee will share whatever issues affect her professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies may be used as the basis for creating the mentoring relationship, the mentor will focus on the mentee, her/his career aspirations and support for individual growth and discussions will therefore include things such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception and how the personal influences the professional. An effective mentor will offer objective advice and guidance and work through issues thereby helping the mentee find her/his own solutions and paths through active listening, constructive feedback and sharing her/his own experiences.
The mentee will drive the mentoring process and must be clear from the start about her/his objectives and the level of advice and support sought from the mentor. The mentor will often be used by the mentee to air ideas, address challenging issues or to provide an alternative perspective to situations. The mentee must be prepared to be challenged, learn from examples and mistakes, listen and be listened to but will always be free to decide whether or not to utilise any advice offered by her mentor, essentially because the process is about empowering and creating space for the mentee to come up with responses and approaches that she/he owns and can realise for herself/himself.
Importantly, mentoring is a reciprocal process, one where both mentee and mentors learn: mentees learn from the experience of their mentors and typically mentors learn to see the world from the point of view of the mentee, and this can often augment the mentor’s own management skills and awareness.
Women in Rail Mentoring Programme
The WR Mentoring Programme has been structured to address the needs and demands of Women in Rail members within the UK rail sector. There are 6 key steps to the Programme, each of which is described below.
STEP 1You can register to become a mentor and/or mentee below. WR and YRP female and male members can register either as mentor, mentee or both. In terms of matching, priority will continue to be given to WR and YRP female members with YRP male members being only matched with a mentor willing to take them under their wing. Men are advised to only register as mentors, unless they are male members of YRP, as the purpose of the Programme is to provide support to women within the UK rail industry.
STEP 2Once you have registered as mentor and/or mentee, you will be sent a Mentor Information Pack or Mentee Information Pack (as applicable).
STEP 3The WR Mentoring Team will pro-actively undertake the screening process to identify a mentor or mentee that is the most suitable for you. You will not be contacted by any mentor or mentee until this process has been completed.
STEP 4Once the WR Mentoring Team has selected a mentor or mentee for you, you will receive a short e-mail formally introducing you to each other so the mentoring relationship can begin in earnest. If, after having met your mentee or mentor, you are not happy with the selection, please let us know and the process will be renewed until you are happy with your proposed mentor or mentee.
STEP 5You will not receive any formal training by the WR Mentoring Team (as we are not professional mentors) but we have secured the support of a professional organisation who has kindly agreed to provide mentoring training at a discounted price for WR members. We will arrange this for you if you wish and will provide more details in due course. Shortly after matching, you will however, be invited to a Mentoring Information Session (in London and in one of our Regional Group locations) where you will be given a presentation on how to gain the most from your mentoring relationship.
STEP 6The WR Mentoring Team will remain available throughout the year should you require any assistance and to answer any queries you may have.
Who Can Take Part in the Programme?
Anyone who works in or is/has been affiliated to the rail sector can register for the Programme, either as mentor, mentee or both. However, men can only register as mentors, unless they are members of YRP, as the purpose of the Programme is to provide support to women within the UK rail industry. We have found that some mentors were keen to support younger women and young professionals and we have welcomed this.
To be a mentor, you need to be able to give 8 hours a year to your mentee. You can be an executive, senior manager, mid manager or a graduate yourself. You just need to be willing to give your time to share your knowledge and experience.
To be a mentee, you need to be able to make yourself available to your mentor and be clear as to what you are seeking to achieve. You will be driving the sessions.
Details on how best to approach the mentoring relationship are set out in the Mentor and Mentee Information Packs which will be sent to you once you have registered to take part in the WR Mentoring programme.
Criteria for Being a Mentor
Anyone, man or woman who works in or is/have been affiliated to the rail industry can register to be a mentor on the WR Mentoring Programme.
You can be an executive, senior manager, mid manager or a graduate and be prepared to offer no more than 8 one-hour sessions a year to your mentee, unless you and your mentee agree otherwise, of course.
Your role will be to provide a safe space for your mentee to determine her personal as well as professional priorities, and rehearse new or alternative approaches to an issue or circumstance. To do so, you will need to be willing to share your knowledge and experience, create an environment in which your mentee will feel at ease – this will include adapting your personal style to empathise with your mentee, demonstrate respect for and sensitivity to her needs and feelings, use behaviour to generate her enthusiasm, commitment and trust, identify ways to help her reduce difficulties, differences and conflicts, handle other people’s emotions without becoming personally involved in them, encourage her to express what she really wants to achieve in relation to specific problems or broader personal and business targets and help her compare her needs and abilities with current business practices.
For you personally, being a mentor will help you see the world from the point of view of a less experienced professional. Mentors on the WR Mentoring Programme have commented that they tremendously enjoyed the mentoring experience with mentees using them to air ideas, address challenging issues and acting as an “eye opener” by providing them with an alternative perspective to situations and highlighting some of the challenges and issues faced by women within the sector.
Criteria for Being a Mentee
Any women or YRP young male professional working in the rail industry can register to be a mentee on the WR Mentoring Programme.
You have to be prepared to commit to the mentoring relationship, show dedication and enthusiasm and make yourself available to your mentor who will be prepared to give you up to 8 one-hour sessions a year of his/her precious time.
Your role will be to be clear about your objectives and the level and nature of the advice and support that you are seeking from your mentor. You will be driving the mentoring process. You will have to be prepared to be challenged, learn from examples and mistakes, listen and be listened to although you will always be free to decide whether or not to utilise any advice offered by your mentor, essentially because the process is about empowering and creating space for you to come up with responses and approaches that you own and can realise for yourself. In return, you will be supported and encouraged, learn how things work within the industry, develop your self-confidence, be assisted with your career development and create or expand your network within the sector.
Mentees from the WR Mentoring Programme have commented they tremendously enjoyed it and labelled it “a uniquely positive experience”, enabling them to speak to someone outside of their management structure whose focus was on their career aspirations and support for individual growth.
Many mentees were impressed by the level of commitment from their mentors, stating they found them “very generous with their time” and innovative in finding ways of challenging them to find their own solutions and paths through objective advice and guidance, active listening and constructive feedback, as well as sharing their own experiences.