Skip to main content

Blog

Perfect pairings: how mentoring opens minds and makes us better communicators 

< Blog home

Perfect pairings: how mentoring opens minds and makes us better communicators 

Many things work well together. Jelly and ice cream. A cold beer on a hot day. Simon Cowell and his ego. All in perfect harmony.

They’re relationships so well ingrained we don’t give them a second thought. But what about pairings that might seem a little odd? We’re not talking about cheese and banana sandwiches here, but the world of mentoring.

No doubt, as an internal communicator, you’re aware of this world. You may have – or have had – a mentor at some point during your career. You might have been one or thinking about getting one. Whichever of these boxes you’ve ticked you’ll likely have an insight into what it’s about; embracing the spirit of learning and following smart advice.

And do you know what? A mentoring relationship can take on any form.

Usually it’s between two people in the same business, meaning that at the very least, ‘work’ is the mutual tie. But we’ve been looking into some alternative mentoring relationships, and have discovered there are many out there that don’t follow the usual path…

Prison pairings

A mentoring relationship that probably isn’t as publicised as it should be is one where difficult prisoners are paired with vulnerable inmates. Designed to help rehabilitate prisoners to stop reoffending, it puts inmates together who recognise their offences and want to make positive steps towards being law-abiding citizens. Different sentences, personalities and approaches to handling their time behind bars could be of mutual benefit to both parties.

Sporting bonds

Another relationship we’ve seen comes from the world of sport. But not player to player, or manager to player. This one is between a Sky Sports football reporter and a young gymnast. Unusual, right? But, according to the sports pundit there are ‘many parallels between football and gymnastics’, including dealing with injuries and setbacks, winning and losing and keeping up with training. It’s the benefit of experience in this relationship that plays the biggest role here.

‘Big brother’

The Building Better Dads organisation in the US is a good example of mentoring with a difference. Young and single fathers can sometimes lack strong guidance, especially if their own parents are absent. So this organisation puts the mentor in touch with fathers who are striving to be good role models. One young man described his mentor as being like ‘a big brother’, which is a pretty good analogy; i.e. someone who has ‘been there, done that’, knows the good and bad times and is there to offer guidance and helpful advice.

Reverse mentoring

Typically, workplace mentoring is provided by an experienced colleague to one who is less so. ‘Reverse mentoring’, however, is literally that: the less experienced – and often younger colleague – provides the mentoring to their more experienced colleague. It’s a common thought that those with more knowledge of an industry will be the ‘authority’ on best practices and how to take on and win challenges. But, as the world evolves at a dizzying rate, younger generations are experiencing life in a completely different way to their older counterparts. So, don’t assume the ‘kids’ have nothing to offer; their experiences and outlooks are just as relevant, and probably more future-ready too.

These are just a few examples of how modern day mentoring relationships know no limits.

And while they’re all different, there are two crucial elements that bind them together:

  1. They’re all evidence that mentoring doesn’t have to follow the norm
  2. They’re all evidence that mentoring really does work.

What does successful mentoring look like?

We’ve talked about a range of alternative mentoring options which, for those involved, work. But how? And is it the same as ‘traditional’ mentoring? The conversations may be different, but essentially, yes, it is the same. There’s recognition that guidance and support is needed, or that something needs to be learned with a bit of a helping hand. And if the outcome is that the mentee progresses / continues with their work / lifestyle with the support and care they’ve received, then the mentor has done their job. And, hopefully, done it well.

In internal communication, whether you’re the mentor, the mentee, or simply communicating it to the wider business, you’ll understand just how beneficial it can be.

It’s a great assist to professional – and personal – development. Having an idea of what you want to achieve from the mentoring – new skills, overcoming challenges, etc. – means that in time you’ll be able to get exactly what you want out of it. And you might also find that you develop a close friendship with your mentor that you didn’t have before.

So what links all of these elements? Communication. 

Open and honest dialogue is the best way to get the most productive results from mentoring.

And if you’re the one communicating it, it’s your job to promote mentoring properly.

Yes, it’s about embracing learning and following advice, but it should also be fun. It’s not a way to spend less time at your desk, nor is it an excuse to have a bit of a chinwag. People are an organisation’s best asset; without them, a business can’t grow or change. So people need careful nurturing and consideration. And it’s a combination of the right level of guidance and the right mentor that is vital in ensuring people are retained, developed and valued.

At Alive, we know a thing or two about mentoring and we can help comms teams to understand and communicate the huge benefits that mentoring can bring.

If you feel this is something you’d like support with, get in touch today. We wont baffle you with science or tell you the best way to go about communicating to your organisation’s people’ we’ll simply advise and offer practical support. Because that’s what makes a long and successful relationship. Oh, and the tea and biscuits.

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“Love it. I will pass to the boss, but I think it's awesome.”

Matt Fletcher — Met Police

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“Boom!
Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“I have worked with Alive with Ideas for many years now and they are by far the best Ideas and design company I have ever worked with (I’d even go as far as to say the best company of any sort that I’ve ever worked with). They are an incredibly talented and creative team, who are normal human beings, completely grounded, totally down to earth, approachable, friendly and an overall joy to work with.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“We worked with Alive on our new website and branding project. They wowed us during the pitch and they didn’t stop “wowing” us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
Alive logo