Infinite possibilities for mentoring relationship

August 25th, 2015

Infinite possibilities for mentoring relationship

Karen Jones, along with business partner Joanne Spencer, runs Infinite You Limited, a change management company that supports organisations and their people through challenging times. She explains the Infinite You remit:

“The focus of our work tends to revolve around organisations going through change. It’s about helping managers support their staff. That might be through coaching on a one-to-one basis, it could be mentoring, or facilitating workshops on everything from workplace bullying to restructuring and mediation. It all comes back to organisations either preparing for or dealing with the aftermath of change.”

This rich vein of experience, along with a background in HR and personal experience of starting a business from scratch, made Karen an ideal candidate to provide valuable mentoring to those just starting out. That’s why, when she was contacted by Meet a Mentor and invited to attend the Birmingham event in a mentoring capacity, Karen seized the opportunity to contribute her knowledge and expertise to the enterprise community:

“Joanne and I didn’t set up Infinite You to become millionaires; we set up to be able to give back. If we can do that by working with others and volunteering our time through Meet a Mentor, that’s absolutely fantastic. We were delighted to get involved.”

Karen, who already held a diploma in coaching, completed the IOEE’s mandatory mentoring workshop online and headed for Birmingham with an open mind and a load of enthusiasm:

“I just rocked up! I didn’t know who to expect but I clicked with around three people, including Lynn Colledge, who was in the process of setting up her own HR consultancy.”

Having exchanged contact details with Lynn and a number of other potential mentees, Karen made the conscious decision not to make the first move but instead to allow the new entrepreneurs to approach her. She explains why:

“One of the things I learnt through Neuro Linguistic Programming training was the difference between push and pull. People have to want to be mentored and coached. Lynn contacted me a few weeks later. She has a long career history in HR and she’d had a really great idea about packaging up key services but, a few weeks into setting up her business, she’d hit that period of uncertainty. So she sent me a lovely email saying she’d enjoyed meeting me at the event and could she give me a call.”

Since then, Karen has become Lynn’s mentor. They enjoy informal exchanges during which Lynn can bounce ideas off her mentor and really benefit from her broad business experience. Asked whether she thinks it’s important for mentors and mentees to operate in the same field or sector, Karen says she thinks a mentoring relationship can work successfully either way:

“Some mentors mentor because they think ‘I have that particular expertise.’ Others will think ‘hopefully, through my questions I can give my mentee a bit more confidence. I can understand when Lynn talks about her different HR packages without asking for more detail on them. But the types of companies Lynn works with are not ones I have any experience of. At Meet a Mentor I spoke to someone who was setting up a shop, someone in marketing and others. I believe I could offer them a good mentoring experience too.”

For Karen, mentoring is a two-way exchange that she finds rewarding on a personal level:

“I feel I’m privileged to learn from Lynn. Meet a Mentor, for me, is very much about sharing skills and experiences. I love the fact that I get to watch Lynn take her own journey. A couple of times that we’ve spoken it’s been at a moment when she really needed someone to chat things through with. So, personally, it makes you feel good that you helped somebody help themselves. It’s just about being on the end of the phone to ask a few questions and share some experiences to enable your mentee to maybe think about things from new angles. I really enjoy being part of somebody’s journey.”