The NHS NWLA provides Coaching and Mentoring Schemes which ensure leaders at all levels have access to support and that those providing that support have access to their own development opportunities. Our network of Coaching and Mentor ‘Champions’ provide a key link to our member organisations and a vital role in helping to develop a culture of coaching and mentoring in the North West. Sue Ashman, recently retired from the NHS, talks through her experience of being a mentor and coach.
Hello – I’m Sue Ashman. I’m a Champion, a mentor, a coach and a coach supervisor, and I’m having the time of my life! I hope that my blog will inspire you to get more involved with coaching and mentoring either in your in-house schemes, or through the NHS NWLA Scheme, as a way of helping others to develop themselves, but also as a great opportunity for your own growth.
The potted history: I began in 2002 as a mentee in Morecambe Bay HA but decided I wanted to become a mentor, receiving my certificate from Lancaster University (CETAD) in 2006. I joined the North West Mentoring Scheme in 2008 – and then fortune smiled! In 2012, the NHS NWLA initiated the Champion programme, training a number of experienced mentors to be able to deliver mentor development days and mentee awareness sessions and I was lucky enough to be in the first cohort. I’ve subsequently run over 20 of these events and have enjoyed each and every one! They are extremely rewarding sessions to facilitate – it’s not often a trainer has the luxury of a room full of people who want to be there!
One of the challenges faced by the scheme has been getting relationships started; the hub system relies on mentees searching for a mentor (or coachees a coach) and in 2013 I came up with the suggestion of running mentor matching events (think speed dating and you’ll get the gist!) and was honoured to receive the ‘Services to Mentoring’ award that year. They were a successful way of establishing new relationships and could be a useful instrument to consider if you need to get some activity going in an in-house scheme.
The NHS NWLA promotes a developmental model of mentoring, an approach closely aligned with coaching, so when the opportunity came in Lancashire Care to undertake the ILM 5, I found myself on familiar territory, though going into far greater depth. And this was when I discovered my real passion for coaching. It is a bit of a cliché I know, but when a coachee has a ‘light bulb’ moment, it’s one of the greatest feelings I experience as a coach. And the even better news is that whilst you are developing others, you find out more about yourself. I’ve certainly learned a few things, and even made some changes, and it’s helped my self-confidence.
I think developing as a coach is a bit like being on a canal boat; travelling on the level for a while enjoying the scenery and then coming to a lock where you stop, fill up with a bit more knowledge and skills, then set off again at a new level, eager to explore the next leg of the journey; (we coaches love a metaphor!). I don’t know when or where my journey will end; there are so many branches to explore, and new channels opening up all the time.
The NHS NWLA is the underlying rock, constantly there; hosting the hubs; providing advice, support and resources; running some fantastic network learning events and facilitating discussion through its forums.
So my message to you is, mentoring and coaching is a fascinating and fulfilling world to be part of and I’d highly recommend you to get involved in whatever ways are best for you; it can even be as two things at once e.g. mentor and coachee and there might even be an opportunity to be a Champion in your organisation.
Why not try it out? You’ve nothing to lose and so much you could gain; I discovered a whole new career – what might you find?