Having someone at work who is willing to share their knowledge and experience by mentoring others can offer a great professional development opportunity.
Mentoring can fulfil a number of needs: short-term mentoring may address a specific challenge, while longer-term arrangements can play a more significant role in career progression.
For a mentee, a trusted adviser in the form of a mentor who has been there and done that can offer you a wealth of knowledge and support. There are also benefits for a mentor; taking on a mentee is a great way to pass on wisdom while cultivating relationships at work.
For those seeking to become members of RICS, having a mentor can be invaluable. In my role at Altus Group I am currently mentoring APC candidates, acting in a formal capacity as an RICS counsellor. To ensure that both mentee and the mentor get the most out of the relationship, there are several steps I can recommend.
The first is for the mentor and mentee to set tangible goals that can be achieved within a given timeframe.
Before jumping in, take the time to discuss what you want from the arrangement. Both parties should be clear on the goals and specific outcomes; this gives you something to work towards and helps keep mentoring sessions on track. Review these goals from time to time and adjust them as necessary.
If the mentoring is a long-term arrangement, you should set a few smaller goals along the way. By splitting your main objective into smaller stages, the end result becomes more realistic and the process easier.
I tend to ask the individual what they believe can be achieved between fortnightly or monthly meetings. It's important that both mentee and mentor agree on these smaller goals, otherwise tasks won't be accomplished and the end goal not met.
The working environment has many challenges from day to day or week to week. Ensuring that meetings are planned in advance and follow-up meetings occur, and not letting professional development be hindered, is crucial to an individual's success and meeting their end goals.
It can be difficult to remember key points and commitments after the meeting, so keep notes both during and between sessions and, of course, on any agreed actions.
If you're interested in becoming either a mentor or a mentee, I recommend starting with your manager. They may be able to connect you with an appropriate partner according to your skills or needs.
An alternative is contacting professional associations to which you belong, as they may have a formal mentoring programme in place. And if you've identified someone who you think would make a great mentor or would benefit from being mentored, don't be afraid – just ask!
Someone once told me that you can teach anyone anything, as long as they are willing to learn. So long as the mentee is prepared to meet their end goal, it is always going to be achievable. The only thing that may change is the timescale.
Mentees should come to meetings prepared, with a good idea of what they would like to focus on during each session. They should be ready to give a brief update on recent progress or any challenges.
Drawing up a quick agenda before the session or sharing any notes in preparation will be helpful. I typically draw up an agenda for initial sessions then encourage the mentee to take ownership of the process.
I have a tendency to talk a lot – which can be good in some instances, but mentoring requires a lot of listening.
As a rule of thumb, active listening should form the basis for all conversations. I try to make meetings as informal as possible, which provides the individual with a forum to ask questions they may not want to ask in the usual office environment.
While the mentor shares experience and advice, the mentee in turns shares new perspectives and what they have learned recently. Both parties benefit from this meeting of minds.
Mentoring arrangements are most successful when both parties play an active role in developing the relationship. The process needs careful management to ensure everyone involved gets the most out of the opportunity.
Identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth is key, so that both the mentor and mentee benefit from the time they put in. Shared value in the mentorship process, good communication and mutual respect means that both sides can continue effectively.
RICS runs a voluntary mentor scheme for APC and Associate candidates. A mentor provides an independent voice, which can be used to help the candidate and counsellor with the assessment process. A mentor list, along with other useful resources and information about becoming a mentor, is available here.
The role of a counsellor is to support a candidate through the process, culminating in confirming to the panel of assessors that the candidate is ready to sit the final assessment interview. Work as a counsellor counts towards the annual CPD requirement.