It is said that the best way to start something is to throw a person into the water and start swimming. But how to help not to drown, not to have bad habits and learn to swim effectively? Sometimes you just need a handbook, sometimes the experience of a more senior colleague is needed. And where the manual is not enough and it needs the help of a colleague, that’s where mentoring begins.
Think of a mentor as a more senior colleague who:
- takes the time to see you at work
- can actively listen
- analyzes the information found and can advise you based on this
As a result of what you do, you are more effective at adapting to what you learn, discovering mistakes sooner and you will learn a new technique correctly. By having your mentor see you at work, you also get feedback tailored directly to you. It also usually helps people gain healthy self-confidence.
Why not start coaching right away
Let’s return for a moment to the analogy with swimming. When they throw you into the water, the mentor will advise you on what you have in your situation to do. The coach will try to make you think of a suitable way yourself. But will you figure it out if you’ve never swam before? And you will not learn bad habits, which you will then laboriously unlearn? Coaching draws information that you already know today and if you are still familiar with the topic have not met, there is nowhere to take yet.
For this reason, mentoring is first used when transitioning to an agile way of working and changing culture. And only after some time, when the team or a particular person becomes a little more experienced in the field, it is possible to proceed to coaching. Your ward already has some experience at that time, on which he can build and that will allow him to come up with the right solution. At the moment, on the contrary, coaching can be more effective than when a mentor would advise you on the solution. Your proposed solution is tailored to your needs.
Who can be mentored?
You can mentor virtually anyone. In the agile world are most often mentored scrum masters, product owners or team members. In real life, however, you may encounter some limitations. If, for example, you work with a member of the board of directors of a company, you may need to find an individual approach that will come in handy in the situation. At the same time, it would be a big mistake to deal with such important people not to pay attention and leave them without help.
Can I do without a mentor?
Yes, you can. You just have to count on the fact that your way to your destination can be several times longer and you can learn a number of incorrect habits along the way, which you may want to eliminate over time.
It is ideal if you have a mentor directly in the company and can work for you full-time. Usually a mentor is not in charge of just one person. In the case of adapting an agile way of working, the mentor is usually filled by a senior agile coach or a senior scrum master, who in addition to this activity also performs other tasks.
If you already have such a senior in your company, it is definitely appropriate to use it. If the capacity of your people is not enough, or you do not have anyone suitable yet, then you can look for someone suitable outside. Again, it is ideal to take advantage of having a mentor with you as much time as possible. And if it is not possible, try to agree on at least part of its capacity, because it can still help you with moving a mile away.
And if you need help with choosing a suitable mentor, either from your ranks or take one maybe even for a part of the capacity from us, we will be happy to help you with it.