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Mentoring, Is it for You?

Mentoring, Is it for You?

by Tracey McCreanor, Corporate Services Manager, CO3

CO3 has been delivering an Executive Mentoring Programme for almost 15 years, and to date nearly 200 CO3 Members have been supported with a year’s mentoring support.

Previous mentors have come from a broad range of leaders from across the Public, Private and Third Sector and we are lucky to have been supported by a wide range of bodies including Queens University School of Management, NI Assembly, Halifax and the Police Ombudsman NI to name just a few.


What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is when a person (the mentor) shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist another person (the mentee) to progress in his/her current job or career. Mentoring is a really effective personal development tool as it is tailor made to the individual with the opportunity to learn at a time and place that suits them.

People often ask what the difference is between counselling, coaching and mentoring. Whilst there can be overlaps in some of the skills and approaches each are used in very different contexts. 

When an individual has a personal or psychological issue e.g. a family relationship breakdown, this is better addressed with a relationship counsellor who is trained to help you deal with emotional issues using talking therapy.  

Coaching tends to be shorter term and more focused on developing e.g. a certain skill or working towards a specific task such as how to chair a meeting; or handling a difficult conversation with a staff member.

Mentoring uses many of the same skills and approaches as coaching but it is a longer term relationship. The mentee is able to discuss issues/experiences in a safe and confidential environment.  The mentor can act as a sounding board, share some of their own successes and failures, and help the mentee to find a way through their respective challenges.



What are the Benefits of Mentoring?

If you are looking for someone to give you all the answers then you are going to be disappointed!  Similarly if you think it sounds like a novel idea but you aren’t really sure why you want a mentor, then it’s not for you at this time.

The best results from mentoring are when you are very clear about what you hope to gain or change and why. Mentoring has been described as “Food for the Soul” and that’s because that space and ‘time out’ to think and be challenged sets it apart from other development tools in helping you to set your direction, and believe in yourself.


Previous participants have said:


“I have had a hugely positive experience and learnt so much from my mentor”


“My ‘conversations with purpose’ with my mentor have been invaluable – not just for my own development but also for the development of my organisation


“My mentor genuinely provides a different perspective, actively listens and questions. We have set tasks and a focus for each meeting which makes me take time to look at, for example, my leadership challenges more theoretically.”


“My Mentor is so easy to talk to and has extensive experience in the areas that I need to discuss”



Who is the CO3 Mentoring Programme for?

The CO3 Mentoring programme is designed to support Chief Executives and Senior Managers with a view to further their development and improve their performance. We recognise that many of our members can feel isolated in their respective roles, and it can, at times, be lonely at the top. So the idea behind the year-long programme is to not only to give the individual a trusted confidant and critical friend but also to help them to build a peer network. CO3 also knows that funding challenges have impacted on member’s training budgets so the CO3 mentoring programme is a very cost effective support and development tool. 


The Programme aims to provide mentees with a confidential and safe environment to develop their leadership abilities.  Mentors will also benefit from taking part by further enhancing their communication, interpersonal, problem-solving and listening skills.

To be eligible to apply to be a mentee you just need to be a member of CO3.

You don’t need to be a CO3 member to be a mentor and in fact we actively encourage people from different backgrounds to get involved! 

We will be recruiting for mentees and mentors from January 2019, with the next cohort starting in April 2019. 

We are looking for Mentees (Chief Executives and Senior Managers in the Third Sector) who are facing a "new to them" situation, a specific work issue, or a personal career decision and would like to work this through with the help from a Mentor.

We are looking for Mentors, (Chief Executives and Senior Leaders from the Third, Public and Private Sector) with the following attributes: 

  • A willingness to listen and to share their knowledge and experience
  • A keen interest in others and a willingness to share their successes and failures (i.e. they do not claim to be perfect!)
  • An open-minded point of view and enthusiasm to explore new ideas or ways to do things differently.  

If you are interested, why not come along to the CO3 Mentoring Information Session to hear about how you can get involved (in either role).


The information session will take place on Tuesday 12 February,11am- 12pm, at the Volunteer Centre, 34 Shaftesbury Square, Belfast.


If you are interested in attending or finding out more about the programme please contact Tracey by email: Tracey@co3.bz or tel. 02890245356

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