Mentoring

ODN Europe facilitates a mentoring scheme for its members to foster links between experienced OD practitioners and those who are either new to the profession or undergoing a significant phase of challenge or change in their career. The service is included in the cost of membership of ODN Europe.

Click here for guidelines on our mentoring scheme.

If you wish to request a mentor please visit the Mentoring forum in the members’ area, download and complete the Mentee Questionnaire, and forward it to info@odneurope.org describing in your email your specific mentoring need.

Thoughts on Mentoring – a mutually beneficial experience

From Pauline Holland, Principal Consultant, Taylor Clarke 

James and I began our mentoring relationship in October 2013.  This was the first ever such relationship set up through ODNEurope and it was my first time acting as a ‘mentor’.  I had the usual (at least to me) performance anxiety issues to grapple with.  Who was I to mentor anyone in the field of OD practice, after all I seem to spend so much of my time questioning, wondering, puzzling over my own practice? What if I didn’t have anything ‘useful’ to offer him?  I put my self-doubt aside and decided the only way to learn was to throw myself into the experience and trust that between us we would figure it out. 

It seemed to help that at the outset we created a form of a learning contract between us: identified what James would like to get from our sessions – the areas of practice he would like us to focus on; what he would like to hear from me or look to me to bring to our conversations and, in turn, what he would bring. We agreed that we would take it in turn to write a brief record as an aide memoire and we would schedule the six sessions to take place approximately 6 weeks apart (in fairness this didn’t last long!).  This structure provided some good containment for us both as we got started and it wasn’t long before we felt comfortable enough to allow space for more emergent conversations between us.

Coincidently, during the early stages of our mentoring relationship, James began a programme of study on Organisational Development with NTL.  I enjoyed listening to him as he recounted his deep experiential learning and greatly appreciated the opportunity to jointly explore the application of theory to practice.  In listening to James’ stories, I benefited from clarifying my own thinking about certain theories and models as they applied to my practice.

Part of the deal was that I would share some of my learning from my practice, including stories of my ‘successes’ as well as moments of uncomfortable learning.  I had recently written a chapter on my experience of leading and managing an Internal Consulting service within a large voluntary sector organisation which had been published (Changing Organisations from Within, edited by Sue Whittle and Robin Stevens and published by Gower).  I shared the chapter with James and enjoyed hearing about what had resonated for him as he too was operating from an internal consulting perspective.  And so I began to realise that mentoring, a bit like writing, was allowing me to deepen my own learning and insights about my practice through the mutually beneficial experience of telling our stories.

A mentee’s perspective from James Pope

I was relatively new to the OD field when I saw the offer of mentoring on the ODN Europe website; I’m serious about personal development and saw this as a great chance to bring another dimension to my development in the OD field.  I was quickly put in touch with Pauline and we started our mentoring relationship.

The way Pauline sought to agree the structure of the sessions put a lot of the responsibility on me to contribute and explore, which was a welcome surprise!  The deal we had was that I would provide areas that I would like to explore, Pauline would then bring in her experience, ask high quality questions and then I would contribute my experience and ask questions.  Another part of the deal was that I would do work in between sessions and bring that along next time.

As well as learning through Pauline’s contributions, I was given / introduced to rich resources and reading during the sessions, which have really shaped me as an OD practitioner and taken me on a rich learning journey.

The sessions have provided a safe container to bring together (and talk freely about) the learning from working in the field on a daily basis, the experiential learning from the NTL certificate programme, the learning from Pauline through the mentoring programme itself and the wider reading I’ve been doing, which has helped immensely in ‘putting the jigsaw pieces together’.

The mentoring has undoubtedly shaped my approach as a practitioner, opened up a number of learning opportunities and provided direction (or a number of possible directions) which I wouldn’t have had without participating.

Thank you Pauline and ODN Europe.