Mentoring from within at GFT Poland
At GFT, we believe that professional growth of our teams and colleagues is instrumental to the company’s continued ability to deliver excellent solutions. Let me present one realization of our slogan Ready to grow – GFT Poland’s Mentoring Program, which I had the pleasure to introduce and lead. It is a project designed to improve our people’s business skills in a unique model based on partnership between colleagues from different areas of the company.
Unlike popular coaching initiatives, usually led by external specialists who deliver general knowledge, mentoring focuses on sharing concrete expertise between colleagues working in the same organization. Crucially, the program is fully oriented on helping realize individual career goals of mentees. Each pair is asked to establish these goals at full discretion. For a Mentee, this can mean improvement of a particular competence – another might be willing to change positions within the organization. The common denominator, however, is enhancing one’s business capabilities as a professional working at GFT. Some of the main benefits our Mentees can obtain from the Program are:
- Working on tactical management of relations with people,
- Help from the organization in understanding expectations related to life and work,
- Opportunity to share one’s problems (with someone other than a Line Manager),
- Creation of networking relations – learning to handle the formal and informal structure of the organisation,
- Ability to receive feedback,
- Increasing self-awareness and understanding of how the organisation operates.
However, the Mentoring Program is not a one-sided endeavour – as Mentors, our seasoned employees have a unique opportunity to further improve their leadership and team-building abilities outside the context of everyday project work. It is both an intellectual and professional challenge that often demands exploring entirely new ways of thinking and guiding others. Finally, it is an opportunity to help future talents flourish at GFT – a feat of a true mentor.
Having established the goals and signed a symbolic contract of engagement, Mentees and Mentors met on a self-established schedule of meetings where they discussed progress and ideas. The first edition of the Program has concluded a few weeks ago and we received fantastic feedback from all participants of the project – let’s take a look at some of their impressions.
Mentee: The biggest value I personally obtained from the program is the ability to pursue a defined goal regardless of obstacles. I learned how to plan objectives and make tiny steps that eventually lead to accomplishing the bigger goal. Before that, I was afraid of making difficult decisions – now I can see that this fear, although sometimes justified, should in fact be overcome.
Mentee: The main advantage for me was the partnership-based cooperation with a colleague who is much more experienced business-wise, as well as within the organization itself. I think that the idea behind mentoring is ideal for such purposes – in that it is grounded in real-life professional circumstances. Moreover, we established actual trust between each other and that in itself was fantastic. Last but not least, I really appreciate the strong focus on realization of my personal career goals and the fact that, indeed, I was able to further them thanks to my Mentor’s guidance.
Mentor: I’m really happy with the results – I was able to help my Mentee in a meaningful way. On top of that, the experience that I’ve gained as a Mentor actually helps in daily work in my teams and projects. Despite having been in the business for quite a long time, I still learned of many new ways of realizing goals and facing expectations.
Mentor: I appreciated the systematic approach to the program. This helped sustain the motivation both for me and my Mentee. I also enjoyed meeting new people in the company with whom otherwise I would be unlikely to connect (one of the Mentees joined my project and is realizing their mentoring goals!).
It is very important to emphasise that launching and executing such a program demands excellent communication, as initiatives of this kind are often met with scepticism. Participants must be kept informed on all stages, while transparency is crucial to obtaining sufficient commitment of all people involved. As Mentees and Mentors learn their roles, they need constant support and individual consultation with the Program team. For this reason, we also provided a set of tools and methodologies which were thoroughly explained and practiced during workshop sessions.
What is especially encouraging is that when asked if they’d like to become Mentors in the future, each and every Mentee replied positively. The overwhelmingly positive feedback and tangible results, visible in several cases just after a few weeks from completion, prove both the worth of mentoring as a model, and the success of the Program itself.
I’d like to express particular gratitude to the Mentoring Program Team, whose fantastic work and extraordinary commitment let this all happen: Weronika Wajberg-Ślązak, Justyna Borowiec and our external mentoring expert, Sylwia Cantillana Valencia.
Congratulations to all Mentors & Mentees of the First Edition!