A Practical Guide to Mentoring

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INFLUENCER: Hoi Polloi’s Peter Shuttleworth serves up a checklist for any would-be mentors
A Practical Guide to Mentoring
I’ve been working in the wonderful world of film and advertising for a fair amount of time. As part of this, I’ve been mentoring breakthrough directors for over 20 years. It's how I began producing at RSA and It’s why I left to set up my own company four years later. 

Now running my second production company, I’ve put together my personal set of mentoring guidelines. If you are mentoring or simply managing young people in our industry I hope the following list resonates for you.

- Mentoring is not something I add into my work. It’s a core part of my work.
- Working with young creative talent is a selfish joy for me, more than it’s a gift to them. It doesn’t require thanks or acknowledgement.
- Listen. Not just when you are asked to.
- Empower others to make their own choices. They will learn better this way. 
- Tread softly. Do not remove another’s right to make their own mistakes. 
- If you have a suggestion, say so. But always with a reasoned explanation.
- Advise, and be prepared for the best advice to be ignored. This is OK.
- Stay open to surprises, embrace them. They are often wonderful.
- Be aware of your own levels of stress, impatience and their old ally - tiredness.
- How others think and adapt is a daily lesson. Learn from it.
- Each generation has a time-informed view of the world. Keep up. 
- First impressions are often formed by past associations. Attend to the person in front of you.
- You will not immediately grasp how someone from another generation or culture sees themselves. Get to know them.
- Don't fall into the cul-de-sac where you consider some people more special than others. It will affect and infect everything you do as a team. 
- While personal networks are fast-changing, basic human needs are universal. Respect these, we all share them.
- People of the same age don’t think alike or have the same levels of life experience. Don't presume someone knows how to book the right hotel or how to drive. They may never have done this life-task before.
- Never mistake confidence for talent. 
- Do foster confidence in every way you can. Confident communication will deliver fewer misunderstandings and better outcomes.
- Things I tried in my own life and decided didn’t work may now work for others.
- Mistakes are shared, so learning from them should be shared. This will build trust rather than weaken it.
- Power corrupts our ability to act with kindness to others. Use your power mindfully in the workplace and correct its misuse by others wherever you can.
- Social values are coded within the everyday vocabulary we use. Ensure the language you use is positive and affirming.
- It is unhelpful when I strongly connect older work and new ideas. It narrows down how I understand a new project can evolve creatively.
- It’s important to culturally reinterpret older works of art through today's eyes. But remember as well how they fitted into their own historic moment.
- I am not ‘woke’, I do not LOL, and I may forget who won the Mercury Prize last year. But I can honour and respect every person I work with and enjoy their company. 
- We will get all of this wrong some of the time.

Peter Shuttleworth is managing director and executive producer at Hoi Polloi.
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Hoi Polloi, 1 year ago