Update - AXIS Mentoring Cohort 4
“Too good…but actually true”. That was one of the clear messages that came out of the mid-term feedback sessions we held last month with the participants of Cohort 4 of the AXIS mentoring programme. Being over halfway through the six-month term for each pairing, it was great to catch up with both mentors and mentees to see how the relationships were progressing, and to discuss some of the outputs from the mid-term feedback survey.
It can sometimes be difficult for the AXIS committee to assess the success of our initiatives, so this mid-term review is an important way for us to gain some valuable insights, as well as to address any lessons to be learned.
When we advertised for the latest cohort at the start of March 2020, we could not have appreciated the full impact that COVID-19 was going to have on our lives. Although we considered pulling the programme at the application deadline stage in April, concerned that people might have other priorities or would struggle without the ability to hold face-to-face meetings, we are so glad we didn’t. The use of video meetings, emails and good old-fashioned telephone calls has worked well, with all the pairings having ‘met’ at least twice and on average four times in the first 3-month period. Many noted that it was easier to organise meetings given the lack of travel and ability to fit easily around other commitments. Some also noted that the mentoring had been their lifeline through the uncertain and difficult time. Whilst they had perhaps applied for the programme for one reason, it had been invaluable to have someone to turn to when life threw them entirely different issues to deal with.
Other reactions to the programme included valuing having an objective viewpoint, a non-judgmental relationship with an un-biased opinion outside of one’s own organisation and having someone who was able to offer perspective, insight and positivity. In line with previous cohorts, it is not only the mentees who appreciate the benefits of the programme; Cohort 4 mentors were also positive about the benefits for them, in particular the reverse mentoring element, taking themselves out of their own comfort zones and the satisfaction gained from being able to support others.
As we discussed the feedback received and things which could be done differently, we were asked how we were able to match individuals so effectively. To this we honestly answered that we aim to keep the process as simple as possible, using the information on the short application form to make a high-level match based on what the mentee believes they are looking for and what the mentor believes they are able to offer. In most cases, the ‘magic’ comes from the relationships themselves. A key piece of feedback from those involved in the programme is that when they took advantage of a perhaps unexpected pairing, this led to unexpected benefits to explore diverse perspectives.
It is this mystique about the programme that has led to our one ‘ask’ from the mentoring pairs – to share their stories. We hope that as more people hear about the benefits and the simplicity of the programme, we can extend the benefits to more AXIS members in the future. One of our favourite comments from this year’s cohort is ‘…it is surreal that my mentor gives me their time voluntarily and I can receive all this help and support for free’.
With a 4.4 (out of 5) star rating from Cohort 4 feedback, the AXIS mentoring scheme really does come highly recommended! Details of cohort 5 will be shared in early 2021.