Kirsten Lightfoot is responsible for leadership development at Newcastle Building Society, which employs around 1,200 people through its headquarters in Newcastle and North Tyneside, and through its branch network, which stretches as far south as Stokesley, up to Berwick and across to Carlisle.
The organisation set up an in-house mentoring programme for staff 18 months ago.
“For me, mentoring is one of the things I’m incredibly passionate about. It works from two levels: the value it can bring to people, and the value it can bring to organisations,” said Kirsten.
“Mentoring is something that’s so important to Newcastle Building Society. The purpose of the Society is about connecting people within our communities for a better financial future, and one of our strategic pillars that really underpins this purpose is Newcastle Building Society being a great place to work, where people can really realise their potential.
“We’ve got ambitious growth plans and mentoring is a really important way for us to nurture the new and existing talent in our organisation. It creates personal ambition, and it helps people to stretch themselves and to move forward with the organisation as we grow. It builds confidence and self-belief in individuals, and it has an impact on the organisation as a whole as well.
“Organisationally, the benefits are around the engagement that mentoring brings. With our own mentoring programme, I am looking at how mentoring can help create a sense of belonging and help people become advocates for the Society. If people are engaged in the business and want to do the best job they can do, ultimately that benefits the organisation and helps us create a positive culture and helps us achieve our strategic aims.
“Our in-house mentoring programme is relatively new – we’re about 18 months into the journey. We wanted individuals to have that extra support to help them achieve their goals. We also wanted to look at how we can start to bridge the gaps between the different levels within the organisation and create more accessibility to our business leaders. Mentoring is a great way to bridge those gaps and share experiences. When we want to ignite ambition in our people, it’s important that people can see that they can get there, and that they recognise the impact they could have in a more senior position.
“All our apprentices, graduates and undergraduates already have access to mentoring and now we’re working on opening our mentoring programme up to all colleagues and including it across all our leadership development programmes.
“The next steps for us are also about thinking about whether traditional mentoring is enough. Do we need to be a little bit bolder and start to think about reverse mentoring and peer mentoring?”
Visit the North East Growth Hub mentoring toolkit to find out how mentoring could benefit your business.