We’re at home, allowed out ‘once a day’ for essentials and many of us are continuing with the careers we’ve worked so hard to maintain and progress through, some may have been furloughed, others trying to cope with a heavier workload than ever. We’re all in our own whirlwinds experiencing this global crisis and finding our work and personal lives colliding in a dramatic, thrust upon us way.
Below are just some of the reasons why it’s so crucial to continue with or begin to form mentoring relationships during this time.
Both mentees and mentors need an opportunity to reflect.
Our worlds have been turned upside down and it happened within a matter of days/ weeks. One week we were in the office, potentially struggling with imposter syndrome or trying to navigate a toxic working environment or maybe we were plucking up the courage to negotiate a pay-rise or experiencing nerves in the face of our first presentation to our boss, the next week we’ve been thrust into an entirely new setup filled to the brim with a new set of challenges.
We may still be experiencing the things we were before but with an added level of complexity; from being a parent who suddenly has to home-school their children and attempt to continue working, to living on our own and potentially battling with feelings of loneliness or at worst having ill relatives or suffering with the virus ourselves. By continuing to be there for your mentee you allow both them and yourself the opportunity to look back, reflect and appreciate that the feelings you are going through are a result of a shared traumatic experience. As with all traumatic experiences we need the feelings and thoughts around them to be processed in order to move forward healthily and talking through these experiences goes a long way to helping us do that.
2. We need to break up the new monotony and find something to ground us.
We’re surrounded by the same walls, the same faces (or lack of) and as a result a combination of boredom, frustration and agitation is inevitably going to hit us all at some point. Having regular conversations with a mentor, either over the phone or on a video call can give us give someone a sense of grounding in a world that feels very surreal.
Mentoring sessions don’t always contain light hearted chit-chat but now may be the time to share your funny anecdotes and silly moments with one another as laughter is one thing that will help us through this.
3. We’re all learning as we go - sharing experience helps put things into perspective.
No one is well-versed in adapting to a world overtaken by a global pandemic, we may each have different experiences of being housebound or having to work remotely but the current setup is unlike anything we have gone through. Each of us can learn from one another about the way in which we are coping.
You may find your mentee has a fresh perspective to remaining calm under pressure, or that you can share ways in which you overcome anxieties related to uncertainty.
4. Navigating furloughing, redundancies and job losses requires a co-pilot.
There are government support schemes coming at us from all angles, and it’s not a straight forward thing to understand. Both employees and employers alike are learning about this for the first time and can support one another to ensure they have understood every aspect of it and are communicating them in their own work-life respectfully and with the right information. For example the idea of furloughing can be quite daunting for an employee who isn’t confident about their own position within a company, by understanding things from a more junior perspective a mentor who may be in a position of having to furlough staff will ensure they communicate with a sense of compassion.
5. There will be an ‘after’ and we need to feel prepared for it.
Although right now it feels like this will last forever and nothing will ever be the same, there will be an after and things will get back to ‘normal’ in some capacity. Diverse voices within our industry will continue to be needed and building women up to have the confidence within themselves to make real change and share their stories is going to continue to be essential to progress. We can’t let the noise of Covid19 drown out our voices, it mustn’t be an excuse to lose momentum and to lose focus on future proofing women’s careers and championing female leadership, we must amplify women’s voices through mentorship now more than ever.