Today I had my inaugural peer mentoring session with an industry colleague (who I shall refer to as my ‘peer’ for the remainder of this post). I met my peer when I attended a one day course he facilitated several years ago, and I subsequently engaged him for some coaching. We remained in contact when the coaching arrangement ended and continued to meet informally face-to-face two to three times a year. We both work independently, with some overlap in our professional circles although our service offerings are quite distinct from one another. Apart from the common challenges and opportunities of working independently, we have discovered an affinity in values and outlook that has created trust and a sense of mutual support. In a way we have been informally mentoring each other for at least a year. As we considered how to stay in touch during my 2018 travels I recalled the positive experience I’d previously had peer mentoring with a colleague who lived remotely from me, and suggested that we enter a similar arrangement.
The key thing we did in today’s session was to discuss our expectations of our mentoring arrangement and how we could best support each other. My key need is for accountability to help me achieve my most important goals. I have always found that telling someone else I will do something increases the likelihood that I will get it done. Having said this, I tend to take on too much and would like my peer to challenge me regarding whether I am taking on more than I can deliver in a given period. (One action I accepted from my peer today is to prepare a project plan for Quarter 1 to check my capacity to achieve all my goals, and ensure that I’m allocating regular time to business development activities.) My final expectation is that my peer will help point out blind spots in my thinking, particularly those that could undermine achievement of my goals.
Structure – A Light Touch
We’ve agreed to meet for one hour each month via videoconference. While we didn’t explicitly discuss allocation of time or agree a specific agenda, we did agree to check in at the start of the session regarding the progress we each made on the goals / tasks we nominated as most important in our previous session. I expect we will then spend roughly equal time in the ‘mentee’ role using each other as a sounding board on whatever issue or question we each want to explore. It’s up to each of us to take personal notes during the session.
We did not make any explicit agreement as to how we would stay connected between sessions. However, given our existing relationship I expect we will exchange some messages or emails to provide each other updates and share resources.
The confidentiality of our discussions is essential, and has always been the case between us. We did acknowledge this briefly today, even though it was already understood between us.
Before today’s session I sent my written vision statement and goals for both 2018 and the first quarter of the year to my peer. My peer has committed to send me his written goals this week. We identified our key goals and tasks for the coming month as a means of increasing our accountability for achieving these.
My work priorities in the coming month are to:
1) Deliver a keynote presentation I’m delivering to an internal professional development conference at University of Wollongong on 15 February on the topic of ‘future-proofing yourself.’ The objective of the presentation is to motivate participants to actively manage their own learning and provide them with practical ways of doing this. I need to complete preparation and practice for this session.
2) Commence facilitation of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials course online on 21 February. This is the first time I’ve facilitated this eight week course so need to familiarise myself with the content and be ready to deliver several webinars and facilitate the on-line interaction in Curatr.
What Mentoring Arrangements Do You Have?
Mentoring arrangements can take many forms, and I’m curious as to what others have in place and what works well for you. Please post a comment to explore this question.
Note that if you are a member of the AITD note that applications for their mentoring program are open until 16 February 2018. I have participated as both a mentee and mentor in this program and found it very valuable.