Supporting employees with dyslexia in the workplace is a topic that requires careful consideration. It is essential for employers to provide appropriate support and training to ensure that their employees with dyslexia can thrive in their roles. One of the most effective ways to provide this support is through mentoring and coaching.
In this two-part blog post, we will discuss the differences between mentoring and coaching for employees with dyslexia and provide practical approaches and considerations for each type of support. In this first part, we will focus on dyslexia mentoring.
Dyslexia Mentoring vs Coaching
Mentoring and coaching are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. The process of mentoring is about helping a person to develop their skills and become more effective at work. It is a long-term process based upon a relationship to build confidence and independence in the mentee. Coaching, on the other hand, is task-focused and tends to be for short periods of time. It involves a coach who is seen as an experienced expert, using their knowledge and skills to support and train the individual in developing specific skills or achieving a professional goal.
When mentoring a person with dyslexia, the goal can be more open-ended, and can adapt to the needs of the individual as they occur. Although generally, a mentor is a more senior person within the organization who has skills and contacts to support a more junior person, this is not always the case. However, a mentor needs to have experiences that they can bring to support the mentee in managing their life more effectively.
Mentoring to Build Confidence
A lack of confidence, in academic, workplace or social situations, is a common area of concern for people with dyslexia. Addressing this and building confidence takes time and effort. It does not happen overnight. A first issue to address is in regard to negative self-talk. People with dyslexia often believe that they are not as good as other people, are stupid, or view themselves as unable or undeserving.
A useful way to address this is to firstly build upon an area of success. People with dyslexia frequently have strengths and specific skills, such as creativity, strong visual abilities, an ability to see a bigger picture, or emotional sensitivity. This can mean that people with dyslexia can be intuitive, good at working in teams and are often more in tune with other people. They can be good at leading teams, or supporting others emotionally. It is important that these strengths are recognized and pointed out to the person, ideally with specific examples of where they have demonstrated these skills, or relate these skills to areas of their personal interest or career ambitions.
Mentoring to Build Resilience
An important aspect of building confidence is knowing what to do and how to handle situations where things break down and go wrong. The power to overcome setbacks is known as resilience.
Resilience can be developed by planning for difficulties, and the solutions that can be put in place to overcome them. By knowing what problems might happen, anticipating them and having a prepared response, can develop resilience and confidence. By considering, practicing or even role-playing certain situations that the person with dyslexia might find difficult, they will start to gain in their confidence to handle the situation and no longer feel like they have to hide or be embarrassed.
Considerations for a mentoring programme
Mentoring programmes have become increasingly popular in recent years as a means of supporting individuals to achieve their goals, both personally and professionally. This is particularly true for individuals with dyslexia, who may face unique challenges in their personal and professional lives. Mentoring can provide valuable guidance and support for individuals with dyslexia, helping them to develop new skills, build confidence, and overcome obstacles.
When setting up a mentoring programme for individuals with dyslexia, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind. These include the following:
- Training: Not everyone is a natural mentor, and it is important to recruit mentors who possess the necessary character traits and have the availability to take on the role. Mentors should also receive training on their role and responsibilities, including the best ways to provide support and advice, how to handle difficult emotional situations, and where to turn for additional support.
- Trust: Developing a trusting relationship between the mentor and mentee is essential for effective mentoring. The mentee must feel confident that their mentor will maintain their confidentiality and not use any information they disclose against them. Ideally, the mentee should have a say in choosing their mentor to ensure that they feel comfortable and have confidence in the relationship.
- A mentor’s role: Mentors should be supportive and encouraging, and should listen carefully to the mentee’s feelings and concerns. They should also be aware that language difficulties can make it challenging for individuals with dyslexia to express themselves clearly. Mentors should help the mentee to talk about their anxieties, fears, and depression, and should work with them to develop strategies for overcoming these challenges.
- Initial meeting: The first meeting should be used to establish ground rules around confidentiality and trust. This could be done via a mentoring contract, which should also cover safeguarding risks and considerations. The mentee should also be encouraged to discuss their goals and aspirations for the mentoring programme.
- Meeting structure: Successful mentoring programmes often follow a structured meeting format. This typically includes a discussion of how the mentee has been since the last meeting, a review and update of what was discussed at the last meeting, and a discussion of any recent challenges or difficulties. The meeting should end with a brief summary of what was discussed, which can be reviewed at the next meeting.
- Regular meetings: It is important to set aside dedicated time each week or fortnight for mentoring meetings. If a future meeting is not possible, an alternative date should be agreed upon in advance.
In addition to mentoring, individuals with dyslexia may also benefit from counselling or other forms of emotional support. In some cases, the individual may have experienced trauma and require specialist support from a professional counsellor. There are a number of online resources available for individuals seeking counselling, and some counsellors may also use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to help individuals challenge negative perceptions and build self-esteem.
For more information on workplace assessment read this post: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/workplace-assessments/
To read about Dyslexia in the Workplace: Challenges and Strategies, click here: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/dyslexia-in-the-workplace-challenges-and-strategies/
This post has advice for employers of people with dyslexia: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/an-employers-guide-to-dyslexia/
To speak to a dyslexia assessor, contact us: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/#request-form