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The missing puzzle piece

How can you embed your purpose, values and strengthen relationships in an organisation with 5 generations? I was recently speaking to the European HR Director of INRIX UK, Aviva Hargreaves, who is a mentor of the CIPD’s (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Steps Ahead mentoring programme. Steps Ahead Mentoring offers jobseekers one-to-one mentoring sessions to help them improve their employability skills, boost their confidence and find work.* Aviva told me that she became a mentor because, having had a transformational experience as a mentee early on in her career, she wanted to give someone else the opportunity to have a similar experience. I was impressed by Aviva’s enthusiasm as a mentor. Apart from getting a strong sense of purpose from helping other people develop their skills, Aviva told me that “the reason why I love mentoring so much is because I have learnt a lot myself. More than just improving my coaching and mentoring skills it is the interpersonal, soft factors that have really changed me. Being a mentor has taught me to be a better listener, relate to people with very different backgrounds and shown me the importance not to judge and to be a positive role model for others”. Mentors can be hugely transformational, especially to young people starting their career. Their experience, advice and support helps mentees strengthen their confidence and seize opportunities they otherwise might not recognise. However, mentoring has much wider benefits than we sometimes acknowledge. It is becoming normal for organisations to now have up to five generations working alongside each other. Add our fast-changing environment with constant technological evolution to this and you have an environment where people’s skills and behaviour vary tremendously. But underneath these differences we are all people, with similar needs and desires. Organisations should get their employees to focus on the commonalities they share and skills they can teach each other rather than focus on the differences. Mentoring can be one way to achieve this. Getting employees from different generations within an organisation to mentor each other will not only provide them with new skills but also help them build stronger relationships and better understand their common sense of purpose and values as part of the organisation. Although mentoring is typically associated with older professionals mentoring younger ones who are starting off their career, many professionals are now getting reverse mentored by younger tech-savvy professionals. So rather than a top-down approach, mentoring should be used as a collaborative way for employees to learn and pass on knowledge and experiences. Every organisation should encourage mentoring relationships within their organisations to create stronger relationships and a better understanding of each other and the shared purpose and values. Mentoring relationships are essential not just for individuals or organisations but for the society in which they live as well. We need to better understand each other and our differences to learn and progress, especially in an environment where we can easily become isolated in our own bubbles of reality. Aviva is one of many people to have recognised the invaluable experience mentoring provides. Since starting as a mentor she has become a Steps Ahead Ambassador for the CIPD to advocate for more people to become mentors; attends Job Centre Plus team meetings and other employment forums to help young people and those returning to the work place to develop their skills and achieve their career aspirations; and has started to volunteer for Smartworks, a national organisation that helps women get back into the workplace, where she coaches women for interviews.

* To find out more about Steps Ahead please visit:

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