By Mentee Timothy Linward
Public sector work can be a mess of different objectives and demands. There’s a strict standard of professionalism but little money to realise it, a need for change and innovation but precious little time to embed or measure it, and a combination of the long, slow cycle of the financial year and the sharp turnaround of daily crises and new policies – not to mention new government mandates that require an organisation to turn its policy on a five-pence. I applied to Yorkshire Accord mentoring because I was lost. I hadn’t even grasped the edges of a new role as a Quality and E-learning co-ordinator at Askham Bryan College, a post with a very wide remit, taking in administrative support for the Quality Assurance department, student surveying and data analysis, and handling the staff-training for the deployment of e-learning software. It seemed like my one relevant skill was being able to pick up software slightly faster than the next person in any given room, which was dandy, but not quite enough for the job in hand.
My mentor Janine works at a far more senior level at Wakefield college but she recognised what we had in common – a role with a very wide remit. (Hers is definitely wider than mine!) Meeting outside campus we’d grab a coffee (or coke float – I recommend a coke float) and talk through my role, looking for the edges, the opportunities, and made plans with a realistic scope. I didn’t realise until we were nearly through with our meetings, but Janine was helping me to locate myself within the job and to take a positive attitude to the unstructured challenges around me. It wasn’t a matter of responding to challenges and riding the tides of other people’s directives, but being proactive and creating my own plans and agendas. This approach has allowed me to focus on the key aspects of my role and deploy my limited time and energy efficiently, as well as feel a sense of ownership over my work that was missing before.
Janine’s enthusiasm for mentoring is palpable. It always seemed like she came away from meetings at least as energised as I was. I don’t know how she does it! I’m very grateful to have met her and would encourage anyone considering it to take the plunge with Yorkshire Accord Mentoring.