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Mentoring is “one of the most rewarding things you can do”, according to one health and safety professional, who recently spoke at Safety and Health Expo.
Grant Thompson, Global EHS lead at Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Solutions, told delegates he had been matched with his mentor, Hugh Maxwell, Managing Director of Maxwell Safety Limited, in 2017, as part of a pilot mentoring scheme.
“Since then, he’s helped me considerably in achieving my goals and continually pushed me out of my comfort zone,” he told Safety and Health Expo.
Thompson said for any mentoring partnership to be successful, there needs to be that “baseline” for between mentee and mentor and he added there is no substitute for a genuine honest partnership between the two of them.
“It’s also important to highlight that when you enter these partnerships, you break away from formal roles and really need to find that common ground as people.”
He added the other key to a successful mentor/mentee relationship is realising there are “no stupid questions”.
“I fell afoul of this in my early days with Hugh,” he added. “I didn’t want to ask certain questions for fear of him judging me or questioning my competence. You need to break away from that mindset. Your mentor is there to help you and support you, not there to teach you.”
He said it was also important that the two people have clear objectives about what they expect to get from mentoring/being mentored.
Thompson added confidentiality is also key, because you might be sharing situations about your workplace, and even your personal life too.
“And as you build that trust with your mentor, you’re going to feel more comfortable about opening up and sharing experiences.”
Thompson said mentoring also helps bridge the generational divide, by offering opportunities for older professionals to learn about the challenges faced by the younger people.
“As technology advances, it’s going to become more important for us to work more closely with the younger generation,” he told delegates.
He said it was also important to “stop seeing negative outcomes as failure and use them as learning opportunities for self-development”.
“This is something that’s taken me a while to get around, but it’s certainly that has really helped me in my career and something that Hugh is talked about.”
And Thompson concluded by reminding delegates that a mentoring partnership does not have to be through a pre-arranged scheme or professional body.
“If there’s been someone here today that has inspired you, or someone in your workplace who has shown great leadership and you think you could learn from them, approach them. You’ll be surprised by just how willing people are to willing to help.
“On the flip side, if you are one of those people who is approached, then don’t hesitate to say ‘yes’. I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Seeing those people that you have helped, achieve and reach those professional milestones is a wonderful thing, really.”