The following case study takes a look at the role of a peer mentor and how the techniques they learnt through VAC training helped them work reflectively to adapt their teaching style to meet the varied learning needs of their mentees.
This case study has been anonymised upon request.
Q. Why were you interested in peer mentoring?
It was after doing the Governance training at VAC and keeping in touch with VAC in general for support (I run a support group for people with a chronic health condition). I was asked by VAC if I wanted to participate on the peer mentoring project as VAC felt I could be a valuable volunteer to support the programme. Thereafter I went on the Coaching and Mentoring training.
I was already involved in the set-up of a previous peer mentoring volunteer programme, the Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Project, alongside VAC. This project delivered our outcomes in different countries and engaged with other European parties and developed lifelong relationships with people. It really broadens your mind about the different styles of mentoring. It was a good eye opener
Q. What effect did the peer mentoring training at VAC have?
The training at VAC was tailored for monitoring and feedback. I delivered the exploration and personal development plan and the VAC techniques and I got feedback from the client at the end of that. Because I was already mentoring people the feedback I got helped me recognise if I had been successful in supporting people with their specific needs and where they needed guidance to move things on. It helped me help others. It helped me understand and identify people’s different learning style. It made me realise not everyone is the same learner. I had to really sit and engage with the client and to tailor my advice to suit the individual.
Q. And what about the clients – the mentees?
Some clients are unsure about where their idea is going to go. But what happens is once I’ve given them a personal development plan they realise how much I’ve listened within that time I’ve spent with them and how much work there is behind their idea that they didn’t necessarily think of. So it’s about that flowering of the project.
I ask questions like – what is your project idea and what do you want to achieve from it? I work from those ideas and start to develop the idea with them and it then flourishes to something which they may never have thought of if they’d worked on it by themselves or with someone who may not understand what they wanted to achieve.
Q. How did you go about arranging the personal development plan?
It stems from the initial appointment I have with a client. I had a personal development plan template which I amended to show what the client aims to achieve within a particular time frame. Some things are short time – like writing a job role description, you may have one already and you just have to tweak it. Whereas somethings, like policies and procedures – that’s ongoing, because it is ever changing. So it depends on the needs of the person being mentored. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been doing the mentoring I find that there is a lot more that I would put on a plan because as I explore more with the client, I realise they do have the skills and the techniques and the ideas, but they’re just in fear sometimes of going forward.
One of the clients who I’ve gone through this process with has come back and asked – can I access your peer-mentoring services later on this year? And I’ve said fine. So where she was unsure about peer mentoring at the beginning, I recognised through the programme she was so much more comfortable and aware – she could reflect on what we’ve discussed and use it to her advantage.
VAC’s peer mentoring training session is based on the National Occupational Standards of Management & Leadership, and is for staff, trustees or volunteers who would like to know more about Coaching & Mentoring including Peer Mentoring.
The course covers the following areas.
- Difference between Coaching & Mentoring
- Coaching & Mentoring models
- Principles of Peer Mentoring
- Putting theory into practice (Micro coaching & mentoring session)
Trained mentors can help support their colleagues to think more deeply about the challenges facing their organisation. The particular focus for VAC mentors has been around governance and financial literacy.
Find out more about VAC’s peer mentoring programme on our website.