When John Cliff started out as an OSH professional there was little help available, which is why he was keen to join IOSH Mentoring as a mentor to share his knowledge and guide other OSH professionals through their career.
Through the IOSH Mentoring platform, John formed a relationship with Christy Higgins and guided him through his Skills Development Portfolio and Peer Review Interview, which led to Christy achieving Chartered status.
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“It’s satisfying to watch someone flourish”
It was a proud moment for John Cliff when his first Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Mentee achieved Chartered Member status.
John, a seasoned industry professional, mentored Christy Higgins through his Skills Development Portfolio and advised him what to expect in his Peer Review Interview (PRI).
Sharing in such success stories is the best thing about being an IOSH Mentor for John, who said: “It’s extremely satisfying to help someone and watch them flourish.
“Firstly, I enjoy building a rapport with a mentee, getting to know their skills, knowledge and experience and what they need from me. Hopefully, we gain a mutual respect and trust in one another which, again, is satisfying.
“These people are the next generation of professional practitioners. They are learning, they are curious and full of ideas, theories and concepts. It’s a two-way street, because as a mentor I also learn from them and pass this on to other mentees.”
John has developed a wide range of skills during his 31 years with the Environment Agency and its predecessors, with the past 18 years focused on occupational safety and health (OSH). He is now Operations Incident Lead and Flood and Coastal Risk Management Advisor based in Derby, a Chartered Member of IOSH and chair of the IOSH PRI panels
There was little help available when John started out, but he’s confident he would have benefited from IOSH Mentoring – a free member benefit that provides a safe and secure platform for OSH professionals to connect and share knowledge and skills. This is why he signed up.
Mentees can ask for as little or as much help as they need, for example a different view on an element of their portfolio, assistance through their whole Initial Professional Development journey or a few pointers to prep for their PRI.
“IOSH Mentoring is a marvellous platform to support OSH specialists with their professional development,” said John, a keen angler in his spare time.
“I have always tried to help colleagues. By being a mentor, I feel that I’m helping my fellow person. I’m giving back to the industry and shaping the future professionals and it’s a business that I’m proud to be a partner in."
Find out more about IOSH Mentoring, including how to sign up as a mentor.
“I was challenged to reach my full potential”
Signing up to of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Mentoring platform has helped Christy Higgins achieve Chartered Membership.
As Head of Safety at Fastway Couriers Ireland, he provided very good evidence for the requisite Skills Development Portfolio, just not in relation to the criteria, according to his assessor.
“We were clearly seeing activities and outcomes in a different light,” said Christy.
“I contacted IOSH for direction and was asked if I had considered joining the IOSH mentoring scheme. I knew about the benefits from my college days, so signed up.”
Christy describes the relationship with mentor John Cliff as “very positive”.
“He was generous with his time and easily accessible by email, phone or Zoom.
“We also had sessions on the feedback from the assessor. This helped me to identify activities and outcomes relevant to the criteria, clarify exactly what was expected by the assessor in terms of format and strategy, and put together my reflective account.”
Achieving CMIOSH has been a lot of hard work but worth it for Christy, who said: “Being a Chartered Member of IOSH shows you have achieved a high level of competence in your particular field of work, it demonstrates your capability of conducting risk assessments and developing policies and procedures in compliance with legislation safety and best practice.”
He recommends IOSH Mentoring to fellow members who have identified gaps in their knowledge or need help achieving career aspirations
“You are given a choice of mentors and you should be able to find one that suits you, so look on mentoring as a two-way programme, as you both receive benefits from being involved,” he said.
“Mentors have a passion for their role and enjoy the opportunity to help others, so you know you will get unbiased, honest advice.
“They see things from the other side and help you to focus, and they challenge you to reach your full potential.”
His advice to mentees is to be open and honest, appreciate feedback and take advice on board.
Christy’s initial involvement in occupational safety and health (OSH) came about through necessity – as a workplace manager he implemented safety procedures as none were in place.
After observing two unsafe acts occur at the same junction in short succession, the grandfather-of-two decided a career in safety was calling and started on a journey that included completing a master’s degree.
Now working in County Dublin, with responsibility for 12 sites, Christy added: “My biggest responsibility is simple – keeping employees and the surrounding community safe and the company compliant.
“It is very rewarding knowing I can make a difference.”
If you would benefit from being mentored, read more about the IOSH Mentoring scheme.
John's top tips for mentors and mentees
- Start the conversation – focus on expectations, objectives, goal setting and, ultimately, whether you are best matched to achieve these. Both the mentee and mentor need to be comfortable, so don’t be dismayed if you’re not compatible.
Use tools where appropriate:
- SWOT – understanding Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
- G-Star – looking at goals, current Situation, Thinking, Actions, Results
- SMART – where you want to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound.
- It is fine for a mentee to have more than one mentor, as the latter may not have all the required skills, just make sure you’re open about it.
- As a mentor, be mindful of how many mentees you have and realistic about the best service you can provide for them. On the IOSH Mentoring portal, the mentor has the choice to make themselves available or unavailable. Please use this.
- Ending the relationship early – occasionally this will happen, for lots of reasons. Discuss and clarify how this will happen if either of you wishes to do so during your initial conversations.