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Creating an effective virtual mentoring partnership

Forming a relationship online or over the phone is not always straightforward, so how do you create an effective and fruitful virtual mentoring partnership?

 

Here at Creative Access, we’ve been adapting to working from home and continuing to support our community through online inspirational talks and workshops, relevant digital content across our social channels along with regular blogpostsresources and newsletters.

We’re so grateful for our team of brilliantly committed and encouraging mentors who are providing much needed advice during this challenging and uncertain time. We’d thought we’d share a collection of resources and guidance for both our mentors and mentees to help with connecting remotely during the lockdown.

For mentors

  • Mentoring is such a powerful tool, through the ups and the downs, allowing time for reflection, supporting with structure and to help put things in perspective. Drawing on your professional experience to date, you can support by providing a sense of grounding and long-term view.
  • Of course, there’s pros and cons to mentoring virtually as opposed to face to face and it’s important to acknowledge that whilst it may be more flexible, it may be more challenging to develop a trusting relationship. That said, and as long as you’re able to overcome any technical issues… it could actually inspire more relaxed and creative conversations away from both of your workplace settings.
  • For early career professionals who are often the newest members of the team, it can be harder to sustain meaningful relationships with colleagues whilst on furlough and/or working from home. This could lead to feeling lonely or out of touch with the rest of their organisation. The simple act of checking in by sending a text message or brief email to your mentee asking how they are doing can go a long way.
  • It’s important to be mindful that as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, it may trigger trauma for young people impacted by the virus or by the news surrounding the pandemic. The National Mentoring Partnership in the US provides a practical resource for mentors.

For mentees

  • Your mentor might be going through a very challenging time in their personal and/or professional life, remember to ask how they are and whether they’re able to connect remotely. Good mentees are considerate, respectful and can work within their mentor’s schedule.
  • It still important to prepare for a virtual meet up with your mentor, in order to maximise your time together. You might find it helpful to identify some recent accomplishments to share, think about a challenge you’d like to work through together and remember to be specific with how your mentor could help.
  • Like many of us, you might be feeling worried and stressed and it can feel difficult adjusting. It’s important to remember that this situation will pass and we will get through it together, we’ve written a helpful blogpost on managing your mental health during the coronavirus crisis.

For both

  • Successful mentoring takes two and it can also take time and generosity to develop. The relationship must be managed and nurtured, we think the key elements of successful mentoring remain the same when connecting remotely.
  • Remember to have fun, it’s ok to have a laugh and talk about something you did at the weekend, enjoyed watching on the TV or baked for the first time. Sometimes it can be helpful to take breaks from more serious conversations. And remember not to judge yourself by pre-pandemic standards, we’re living in unprecedented times!

Also sending a massive thank you for all your efforts, we hope you both continue to learn from a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship. Diverse voices are still very much needed within the creative sector, and mentoring is such an important strand of our work to achieving our vision where Britain’s creative industries truly reflect our society.