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How the new mentoring experience affects mentors and mentees

Publication date: August 14, 2023

Author: Halyna Kolesnyk, Communications Manager of the Legal Development Network

Throughout the year within the project “Capacity Development of Local NGOs – legal aid providers in Ukraine,” participating organizations (mentees) had the opportunity to set clear goals and achieve them together with their mentors. Many of them decided to improve their organizational structure, develop policies and procedures, which allowed them to obtain resources and implement initiatives, including legal services.

We have already shared some examples of the impact of mentoring on civil society organizations. This time, we decided to learn from their mentors – Andriy Korbetskyi, Vitaliy Dorokh, Kateryna Maltseva, Mykhailo Bardyn, Natalia Kulykova, Natalia Yesina, Solomiia Zinets-Matsyshyn, and Timur Kanataev – about how the mentoring program influenced them. The following interview will discuss their experiences.

LDN: Please share what mentoring personally brought to each of you or if you notice your personal development?

Andriy Korbetskyi: Mentoring is an entirely new experience for me, so all the knowledge I gained was valuable. It was also important to develop communication skills with teams and, of course, share my own experience. Mentoring stimulated me towards time management and various processes: organizing meetings, preparing for them, establishing effective communication, as it’s essential to lean towards further dialogue and assist the mentee in solving their issues.

Vitaliy Dorokh: I also had no prior experience in mentoring, to be honest, so it was an experience for me, both positive and negative, which I can use in the future. My main challenge was building a connection and knowing what to do when my mentees were unmotivated to work. I discussed these situations with an education and team development expert, Anna Uvarova, and applied various approaches. I didn’t always succeed, but I tried.

Kateryna Maltseva: Personally, for me, it’s growth. Mentoring helped me gain more self-confidence in myself and my activities, as well as the opportunity to look at my organization from an outside perspective. It was also a personal revelation for me that I don’t need to shoulder all the responsibility in mentoring, as it’s a two-way collaboration for both the mentor and the mentee.

Mykhailo Bardyn: Mentoring was somewhat new for me as well, even though I had encountered the concept before. At the beginning of our work, I felt that I could help my mentees with my experience. Then there was some cooling off, as it turned out that most mentees weren’t ready for active self-improvement. They lacked the internal motivation for interaction, even with the mentor. From the perspective of the experience I’ve gained, I understand that mentoring involves a significant amount of routine work, in which it’s crucial to find approaches through specific actions, systematic meetings, small steps, following the principle of incremental tasks.

Natalia Kulikova: We invest a lot in the development of our organization. However, while working with mentees, I noticed that not everyone is willing to put effort into their organization’s development. Some organizations bring in external experts, develop policies and strategies, which ultimately remain formal for the organization. The same attitude applies to mentoring for them. Therefore, mentoring doesn’t suit these organizations because it’s primarily about self-improvement. For me in this project, it’s about reviewing my own activities and how I approach it, so that the mentees understand that they need to work on themselves and their organization’s development.

Natalia Yesina: Mentoring impacted me from the perspective of organizational activity because I had to plan a lot more and make sure it was beneficial for the mentee organizations. It was positive to observe the changes that occurred after we had working meetings and planned joint activities. I’m happy about the results of their work and the fact that my influence on it is also present.

Solomiya Zinets-Macishyn: Mentoring helped me become more confident as a mentor. Especially when organizations themselves signaled that my assistance and external experience were helping them see not-so-obvious problems or unclear ways out of certain situations. A fresh perspective, systematic planning of steps allowed for more coordinated work. Another significant impact on me was when a leader couldn’t delegate, and I realized I had similar issues. Seeing this problem in an exaggerated form made me start delegating more in my organization.

Timur Kanataev: Mentoring taught me to listen and hear, as mentee organizations often want to voice their requests, but it’s hard for them to formulate them. So, it’s important to catch and understand what they need. My task is to make this request conscious and clearer, so that they can express it. Sometimes it’s like an epiphany: “Oh, indeed, that’s exactly what we need.”

LDN: Did mentoring bring anything to your organization where you work or manage?

Andriy Korbetskyi: I projected the experience of my mentees onto my organization and asked myself how this works for us. And it turned out that my organization lacked some important policies, so my team and I worked on them.

Vitaliy Dorokh: We were mostly sharing our experience, showing the impact of various decisions and practices through our own example.

Kateryna Maltseva: I overcame the “inferiority complex” regarding my organization. Often, you think that our policies aren’t as they should be, or there are other shortcomings. Then, when I started working with other organizations, I realized that what’s routine for us might be something new and a revelation for others.

Mykhailo Bardyn: I looked at my organization from a different perspective, with the knowledge I have. I know what advice to give to my organization to achieve positive development results in new circumstances. In particular, I found new approaches to building a team, whose members are in different locations.

Natalia Kulikova: Mentoring helped me structure the experience we have. In the future, we will consider that we don’t always need to help an organization if it doesn’t ask for it.

Natalia Yesina: Mentoring didn’t directly impact our organization, as we were more sharing our experience.

Solomiya Zinets-Macishyn: Mentoring helped me see the problems in my organization and whether we have the same issues as others, or if I approach things similarly to leaders in other organizations. This allowed me to change slightly in my usual role.

Timur Kanataev: I believe that we partially apply mentoring within the Network, but I think that, thanks to the experience gained, we could do it more consciously.

LDN: Considering the experience you’ve gained, do you plan to continue working as a mentor?

Andriy Korbetskyi: Yes, I plan to. Mentoring helped me establish partnerships with my effective mentees, who are active organizations. I will continue working with them.

Vitaliy Dorokh: I think I can continue working as a mentor. But there are many nuances to consider, and I will have to negotiate with the mentees, taking into account the experience I gained.

Kateryna Maltseva: I see myself as a mentor in the future. At the beginning, I was a bit scared and unsure if I could handle it or not. It was important for organizations to understand if mentoring was important and necessary for them, and it was important for me to understand this as well. I see that I helped the organizations, and my knowledge is applied in a different role, not just as a leader or trainer, but also in terms of mentoring. However, in the future, I will consider the compatibility of the mentor and mentee approach, so that both of us want to work together. To make this happen, I need to define several criteria.

Mykhailo Bardyn: I would be happy to meet mentees who want to develop and achieve practical results, to apply the experience I have as an organizer and leader of a nonprofit organization, along with the skills I’ve gained in mentoring. For me, it’s important to see the results of the mentoring influence, which can only be successful with mutual interest from the mentee.

Natalia Kulikova: Currently, I’m putting mentoring on hold for a while because it’s a significant time and energy investment. Not all organizations are ready to accept this experience.

Natalia Yesina: My current activities involve working with mentee organizations within other projects. Also, in their development, processes that you can’t just drop are involved. In Kramatorsk, the organization continues to implement a UNDP-funded project, and there are certain aspects where they consult with me. Communication with them continues.

Similarly, in the Sumy region, we’re helping two organizations created by IDPs in the Lebedyn community in Sumy Oblast. One of them registered just a month ago. We’re trying to share our knowledge on organizational processes, administration, finance, and tax reporting. We involve them in project implementation.

Solomiya Zinets-Macishyn: I would like to continue developing as a mentor, but it does take up some time. Currently, my priority is to develop my organization. However, I enjoy being involved in driving change in people and teams. It was also beneficial that we could communicate with Anna Uvarova and analyze our experience with her greater expertise.

Timur Kanataev: I have a goal within the Network to establish a separate mentoring direction with all the necessary documentation. This way, we can present not only the good legal assistance provided by our organizations but also mentoring. Right now, I feel like a leader of this process and continue moving it forward.

For reference:

The project “ Capacity Development of Local NGOs – legal aid providers in Ukraine” is implemented by the Legal Development Network with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine and the financial support of the Government of Canada, provided within the framework of the UN Peace and Development Programme.

The UN Peace and Development Programme (UN RPP) is implemented by four UN agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The programme is supported by eleven international partners: the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Embassy of the United States in Ukraine, as well as the governments of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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