Looking back at our first Cross-Member Mentoring Programme

The RFG launched its pilot cohort for the brand new Cross-Member Mentoring Programme in January. Some 40 mentees were matched with a mentor and 29 different organisations were represented, giving people in freight the opportunity to develop new skills and expand knowledge of the many different areas of rail freight over a 12-month period.

Mentees and Mentors were matched on several criteria – firstly on what the main goal for the mentee was, which ranged from wanting to develop in their current role to development for future roles and also to deepen their knowledge of rail freight. The matching also considered the mentor’s career history and if the mentee wanted their mentor to have a particular field of expertise. We also asked mentees to highlight any particular competency areas they wanted to develop, ranging from managing complexity, managing conflict, building a high-performing team, leadership skills and building a network through to areas such as self-awareness and decision quality. All the above ensured we were able to make matches which would work for the duration of the programme.

Virtual training session

All mentees and mentors attended a virtual 1-hour training session which was an opportunity to understand the programme and their roles in more detail as well as ask any questions and understand what additional resources were available. People were able to share their prior experiences and best practices alongside learning new skills and/or tools to support the relationships.

And then we launched! All mentors and mentees kicked off with an initial chemistry call which was to check they connected okay and to establish a working contract around how often and how they would meet. From this point, the relationship was over to them, with a framework to refer to if they wanted any support. We encouraged a meeting every 4-6 weeks which has worked for some and has been more challenging for others, so next year, we’re asking that people aim for somewhere between 6-12 meetings during the year-long relationship.

As programme manager, I have checked in every 3 months with a survey as well as responding to any ad-hoc queries as they came in. In a 12-month-long mentoring programme, it’s reassuring to know that there is an actual human supporting in the background!

What are the successes of the programme?

• Confidence and self-esteem of mentees has increased
• Building connections and networking for both mentors and mentees
• Developing a deeper understanding of rail freight for mentees
• Over half of the relationships have included site visits as part of the learning – with very positive feedback from both parties
• Development of skills as a Mentor – coaching, listening, leadership, encouraging actions

Why sign up?

This is an incredible development opportunity outside of your organisation to work with someone with significant experience in rail freight who can potentially add value to both your personal development as well as your technical understanding of freight.

To join as a mentor is an opportunity to for you to support someone in their career by sharing your skills, knowledge and experience and coaching them in any next steps they may have.

There will be 30-minute information calls in November 2023 to find out more about the 2024 programme with a chance to ask any questions you might have with no obligation to sign up – your line manager or HR manager is welcome to attend too.

Anyone who is working in an RFG member company can join as a mentor, mentee or both – you don’t have to be in a rail freight-specific role to join the programme.

By Deanne Logan, Mulberry & Mint.

07719 775889