e-book Views from the 13th Floor Conversations with My Mentor

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That could mean hopping on the phone or meeting for coffee once a quarter, or even just twice a year. While in-person meetings are important, social media offers mentees the opportunity to have regular, no-pressure interactions with mentors. Use Twitter and LinkedIn for light things — interesting articles, book recommendations, important industry news, etc.

Social media gives mentees the opportunity to nudge their mentors, reminding them not only that they exist outside of the semiannual dinner, but also that they value the relationship. Be sure not to nudge too frequently, though, or you'll come off as pushy. More importantly, don't discuss important career ideas over email or social media — save that for the in-person interactions. One final, more meaningful way to connect with a mentor is regular mail.

How can mentoring support women in a male-dominated workplace? A case study of the UK police force

A thank-you note or holiday card can go a long way to show you value your mentor's advice and presence in your life. Whether you're the founder of a brand-new startup or an entrepreneur with a bit of business experience under your belt, you can always benefit from a mentor. Another important aspect Salemi pointed out is that, when we're immersed in our own careers, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. It's important to have advocates for you — especially early in your career. These should be people other than your boss, and they should provide insight on getting ahead as well as supporting your overall goals.

At the most basic level, your mentor should have more experience than you and a track record of success. Different perspectives are valuable in the mentor-mentee relationship. Sometimes you need some constructive criticism or a reality check, while other times you need a high five or pat on the back.

A well-chosen mentor can provide all of those things. Leadership philosophy may be more important. Only then can you align yourself with the right guide.

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As a mentee, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of asking a lot of your mentor without giving anything in return. While your mentor might be happy to provide you with advice regardless, it's still important to think of some ways to show your appreciation and make yourself available for your mentor. Salemi said, at the very least, it's important to prove you appreciate the relationship by valuing your mentor's advice and time — if only by arriving at meetings early or adjusting your own schedule to make a meeting more convenient for your mentor.

Young professionals may not have a lot to offer their mentors, but they can offer them respect and appreciation. The whole point of seeking out a mentor is to get important insight and advance your career. The only way that's possible is if you're proactive about your own situation. With a mentor, keep it simple and stay relaxed about the relationship. There's often a lesson to be learned from someone who's further along in their career. The key is being open to whatever lesson or message that is.

You want to create an environment where you're paying that knowledge forward to others. Additional reporting by Sammi Caramela. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in Journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications.

Matt joined the staff in and covers technology for Business. Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links.

Learn more. Here are some quotes to illustrate these themes:. The relationship is more equal now. Now we are two women who work in the same place. She asks me about me too. There were developing themes for both parties too including feeling more comfortable, developing trust and friendship and growing in confidence.

Drawing Connections

Both mentees and mentors were asked over time what learning from their mentoring experiences, did they feel they had taken back into the workplace. Here are some mentee quotes to illustrate both skill-based and social network learning:. I am a better communicator as well as listener now. I find it easier to problem solve. It is interesting to see that the affective-related learning again was mostly discussed again by both parties, in terms of greater self-awareness and confidence to do more within the workplace and that both parties were considering offering mentoring to others; a sign that they can see the benefits and are keen to share them with others.

The purpose of this research was to increase our understanding of the value of formal mentoring and specifically how mentoring can support women within the UK Police context. The results of this study demonstrate that both parties perceived they were learning in all four domains; cognitive for example, wider knowledge of differing perspectives in the workplace , skill-based for example, skills to enhance work-life balance , affective-related learning for example, increase in self-confidence and social networks for example, signposting to key contacts over time.

This supports the notion that formal mentoring adds value to both parties involved and supports learning and development to happen Parsloe and Wray, ; Garvey, This is a useful observation, as it reinforces existing knowledge that mentoring is an important learning and development intervention and helps to set mentoring apart from other interventions which do not necessarily create a two-way process for learning, for instance within a more teacher to learner one-way relationship, within training.

There are still only a few studies which have investigated the learning and benefits for both parties, at the same time; it is known through the literature that mentees benefit but not how much mentors can benefit too. Therefore, this study has added to academic thinking by reinforcing the idea that mentoring is a process of mutual growth Megginson et al.

How to build a relationship with a mentor

This is an important finding as it allows practitioners to be clearer about who and what can be gained from mentoring and so can be targeted better towards individuals and particular groups. It seems clear from these findings that mentoring develops confidence.


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Eraut states that confidence has an overwhelming impact on workplace learning, so it makes sense to assume that as mentees and mentors were developing their confidence through mentoring, they were also enhancing their workplace learning in other areas too. As such, this finding has highlighted the distinction between mentoring and other formal learning and development interventions offered such as traditional structured training sessions. Traditionally on-the-job coaching and training are generally directed at increasing knowledge and skill levels in the workplace, whereas this research demonstrates that mentoring goes beyond these learning domains and into the more personal affective-related domain.

Bearing in mind that this mentoring programme was aimed at women supporting the development of other women and that an often touted factor that restricts women in the workplace is their self-confidence related to the sticky floor syndrome , these findings help to reinforce our knowledge of the emotional bond and rewards that can be gained through mentoring Hunt and Weintraub, ; Garvey, , which may not necessarily be gained from other learning and development practices, for this particular group. Although some learning domains were discussed more at different phases of the mentoring relationship, the affective-related learning domain was the most mentioned throughout and increased throughout.

This finding advances existing academic thinking not only about the value of mentoring but about the value of mentoring for women. These results suggest that once these women mentees and mentors felt more comfortable with each other, they developed higher levels of trust in the relationship, and as such the stronger and more intimate the relationship became. As the mentoring relationship became deeper and more personal for the women involved, learning was opened up beyond the cognitive and skill-based levels. This adds to our existing thinking, as again shows that mentoring can offer women so much more in the longer term than a training programme could provide them in the shorter term.

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Interestingly, two subsequent studies mentioned later showed a similar pattern for men only and mixed gender dyads too, but there is recognition that these results are particularly interesting to women who perhaps do not have opportunities to develop supportive relationships in other ways, within the Police context. Figure 1 helps to document the parallel journey that mentees and mentors take together Zachary, through the mentoring phases.

A model showing the changing emphasis for the four learning domains over time, for both mentees and mentors. Interestingly, the least amount of learning reported by both parties was within social networks. This could suggest that these women mentors did not have ready access to or have less developed senior level relationships and networks to share within the workplace. Here is a quote reiterating this from one of the mentees:.

They generally do tend to play golf with people who are substantially higher in rank … they share shoes.


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This suggests that compared to their male counterparts, women may have fewer formal and informal opportunities for developing mentoring relationships Ragins, , but the results from this research suggest that if women did have access to these higher level networks through mentoring, together with an increased self-confidence within the workplace, this would put them in a much better, more equal position for career progression. Finally, the findings add to our existing knowledge by potentially showing that the learning gained from mentoring makes a difference to how these women mentees and mentors felt about themselves in their workplace and therefore, the expectation is that this would a difference to their actions in the workplace too.

These findings suggest that when women are supported to feel more confident and empowered within the workplace, they will promote themselves more positively within their jobs and within their teams too, which will enhance their profile within their job role. The results have been similar; mentors and mentees have learnt in all four learning domains, affective-related learning has increased over time and social network comments were least discussed.

Interestingly, both these additional case studies have been with mixed dyads men and women demonstrating that mentoring can add value to both genders. This shows that these results are not particular to women only but perhaps are more important to women as there is a suggestion that more support is needed to enable them to progress in such a male-dominated workforce.

This article aimed to investigate the value of formal mentoring and specifically how mentoring can support women within the UK Police context. It is clear that this formal mentoring programme has helped to increase personal learning for both women mentees and mentors, beyond the usual training expectations of cognitive and skill-based learning Rylatt, and has made a difference for them back into the workplace.

This research has also added to our existing thinking about mentoring by showing the huge emphasis that it has in relation to affective-related learning for both parties, in particularly a focus on improving self-confidence and how this increases over time. These results provide important new insights into women in the workplace, specifically women in Policing. If it is lack of interview skills, then mentoring can help develop these. If it is confidence that affects their ability to recognize their own potential to progress through the organization, then this study has shown how mentoring can provide a huge amount of support to develop self-confidence, self-awareness and positivity: all key ingredients for career success.

Not to mention the obvious benefits to the workplace!