By Natalie Clegg PMO Analyst and Volunteer for the Co-op Mentoring programme 

It’s National Mentoring day this week. Using mentoring to help people grow and develop is something I’m passionate about so I wanted to share my experience. 

In early 2018 I knew I had some areas for development, but wasn’t sure how I could find the right support through the Co-op. For me, self-confidence was always something holding me back. Although other colleagues thought I was confident, I was doing a great job of hiding my self-doubt – I could worry for days about something that had been said to me, which is really unhealthy and unproductive. 

It wasn’t long before I heard about the Co-op Mentoring programme. I realised I could find someone to help me with my development areas. There are lots of colleagues from around the Co-op who’ve signed up to dedicate their time to mentoring. I found a colleague who specialises in Leadership Development with lots of experience in confidence, and thought they’d be a great fit to help me achieve my goals. We had a catch up the following week in the Angel Square coffee shop, and I was instantly boosted by her positive attitude and willingness to help me. 

Over the course of the year, we met up around once a month to check on my progress and keep me focused on the tasks my mentor had set me. We decided that although confidence was my main goal, each month I needed to work on a range of things, from trusting my judgement and speaking up, learning to deal with different types of personalities, right through to how to ask for feedback in a constructive way so that I didn’t feel totally demoralised and take things to heart. It’s a very involved process, and I had to be prepared to fully commit to the mentoring relationship. 

As the year drew to a close, I realised just how far I had come when I had my end of year review. I talked about my personal development progress with my manager. My behaviours had changed because of how I felt about myself. My manager also let me know I had lots of positive feedback from colleagues all around the business that I had worked with. I knew this was because I had felt more confident to speak up, approach people and work hard at building lasting relationships. It was a great feeling to know that mentoring had genuinely made a difference to my life, both in and out of work – I’m so grateful to my mentor. 

So, I’m now a mentor too, and I also volunteer to run the mentoring programme. We’re working hard to make sure every colleague who wants to be a mentor, or be mentored, has a great experience. We’re looking at ways we can start bringing people together next year, as both our mentors and mentees have told us they’d love us to find more ways to build a community of colleagues from up and down the UK who want to help each other succeed. It’s really special to be part of making that happen. 

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in , check out our Yammer group or email aspire.mentoring@coop.co.uk