How to Be a Mentor

ProjectManager.com

Mentorship is a kind of currency which can be invested in future projects by passing it on to less experienced PMs, and Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference.

the structure of effective mentoring

In Review – How to Be a Mentor

Jennifer said that once you’re in a leadership role and have mastered some project management skills, it’s inevitable that you’ll find people coming up in the industry seeking your help.

She went on to discuss how to develop the mentoring skills to pass on your knowledge and expertise. It’s an important process, as it uplifts the entire industry.

How  Mentoring Happens

There are any number of reasons why you might find yourself being asked to mentor someone once you’ve reach a certain position in your career. Whatever the reason, you should be flattered, as it means you’re doing a good job. Some of the ways you’ll attract a mentee are as follows.

  • People look towards you for guidance. This is a result of your actions and words. You have shown both the ability to lead a project successful and meet the project’s needs, using the resources at hand, while adhering to its schedule and budget. Your work has inspired others to seek and follow a similar path.
  • Mentoring might simply be another word for job training. Let’s say you’re moving on from your position and you’re asked to help the new person get acclimated with your job before you leave it. That’s a type of mentoring, too, though one that doesn’t necessarily come to mind when the word mentoring is used.
  • Helping people into leadership roles. You might be asked to help shepherd someone into a leadership role. In this case they might not approach you, it could be asked of you, but you’re doing the same thing: helping someone grow in their career.

What Does Mentoring Mean?

Mentoring is often more of a relationship than a highly structured position in an organization. It can be much looser than what you’d normal expect in a business.

It’s a relationship between a more experienced person with a less experienced person. The more knowledgeable one is trying to pass on that knowledge, often through conversation and advice.

While you can structure the relationship as much as you like, in a sense you’re working with someone as an equal. Therefore, hierarchical positions are less starkly defined, as, in a sense, you’re helping someone move up to your level.

Before you get into a mentoring relationship, however, you need to evaluate whether it’s right. There are several factors at play, such as are you the right person and is the mentee the right person. It’s important to make sure that the relationship is right. Also, is it the right time: do you have the time to devote to the project?

Benefits of Mentoring

Mentoring isn’t a one-way street, where you’re passing on your knowledge and experience to another. While that is what most people think of the relationship, if you’re open to it, you’ll find that your mentee can teach you through their perspective and experience.

You’re also building trust with another professional. It’s a relationship that begins in mentoring, but continues throughout both of your careers. The more people you work with in your career, the larger your professional network, which helps with career advancement and problem-solving.

Along those lines, the people you help bring up in the project management world are going to likely have strong ties to you and can act as an advocate. They become a reference, for example, when and if you need one on a new project. But mostly, you’ll benefit from the fulfillment of helping another person.

How to Effectively Mentor

When you’re a leader with valid experience and earned skill set, you’re going to have the opportunity to guide a mentee. It’s a process, like everything else you do. Effective mentoring can be summed up by following these four steps.

  1. Set Expectations: There need to be boundaries in any relationship. What will be expected of you as mentor and your mentee? By setting up these expectations upfront, you’re going to avoid any confusion later and have a more productive relationship.
  2. Set Protocols: This is the framework in which you’ll be working. That is, how often you plan to meet and/or talk, how you can be reached and where you’ll meet, etc. You want to be accessible to your mentee, but you don’t want to feel taken advantage of.
  3. Set Goals: Just like managing a project, you want to have a timeline with tasks that lead to a certain result. You don’t want the mentorship to become open-ended, though you can remain in touch, or else you’ll burnout and not effectively mentor.
  4. Track Progress: You’re noticing how a mentor relationship is not so different from a managing a project, and just like when you’re in a project, you can’t tell if you’re making progress unless you’re tracking that progress.

It’s work to mentor, but it’s good work. You want to give back to the industry that has given you so much. Plus, you’ll find it rewarding on levels that go deeper than merely professional.

Pro-Tip: Don’t think of mentorship as just a one-off that you do as a service to colleagues who are coming up in the field. It’s actually a discipline that can help you when managing a project. You can mentor your team using similar techniques to bring them up to snuff quickly.

Transcription:

Today, we’re talking about how to be a mentor. Can you tell I love this topic? I really do. But here’s what happens.

Once you’ve stepped into a leadership role, mastered some skill or expertise, it’s natural that people are going to begin approaching you and asking you to mentor them.

When it happens the first time, people are a little shocked. They wonder, like, “Well, how did that happen?” or, “Why did that happen?” Or, here’s what happens. Your words, your actions, even your behaviors, your influence or impact can inspire others to wanna do what you have done or what you’re doing now.

So they want you to guide them or mentor them so they can do it, too. There are some, maybe, cases where, as you stepped into a leadership role, that you may need to mentor someone who is taking your role. And you may need to mentor others, maybe on your project, maybe inside your organization, or even in your community into leadership roles.

Well, let’s break it down. What is mentorship? It’s a relationship between two people in which there’s a more experienced person or a knowledgeable person, is guiding a less experienced or knowledgeable person. So there’s a mentor and there’s a mentee.

So when you start considering, is this something that you wanna do, you want to evaluate. Is this the right person? Is this the right time in my life or my project? And is it the right relationship that I wanna set up to mentor someone? Well, let’s look at some of the benefits that may help you decide.

It can be two-way. Of all the people I’ve mentored, I’ve always gained from that relationship, too. I’ve learned from the other person. So the mentor-mentee relationship, there can be reverse mentoring going on, or what we call reciprocal, meaning that they both reciprocate and learn from each other.

It can form a trust, so that the other person can open up and may be more vulnerable about, maybe, what they’re struggling with, or maybe be open to some of the things that they want to advance in, in their career.

And you can gain an advocate. When you’re helping another person advance in their career or do something that they wanna do, and it works out really well, they will become one of your biggest advocates, and you can become a reference for them.

And for many people who do mentoring, it’s fulfilling for them. I know it is for me. So when you consider that, and you evaluate if it’s right for you, right timing, right person, and you agree to do it, then let the person know, “Hey, I’d love to mentor you.” And be excited about it because it can be fun.

So let’s understand the how. How do we set this up for success? So, first of all, you wanna set expectations of the mentor relationship, you know, what it is, what it isn’t, and put some boundaries around it. Set some protocols of how often you’re going to meet or talk, and how you’re going to reach each other, you know, when are you gonna reach other, where, and when, and how.

And also, this is one of the most important things, is to set goals. What is the end goal, or what is the result of this relationship and commitment of time? And then, you also wanna track the progress to ensure that your mentee is making progress.

So now, let’s understand some of the aspects of being the mentor. So, first of all, you have to be committed. If you agree to be the mentor, be committed to the time and effort it’s going to take. And also, the mentee needs to be committed, too.

Also, be patient. Remember that you have the expertise and the skills that they’re seeking for you to mentor them on, so be patient with them as they learn and grow. Also, be honest with them on the areas that they need to be improved on. And be reliable. If you commit to be somewhere or do something, be reliable that you do it. And the other person, the mentee, needs to, as well.

And then, be open. As a mentor, we have to be open for our mentee to give us feedback on how we can help them better. And then, through this, the end result is that you both end up in a better condition.

So if you need a tool that can help you manage and track your goals of your mentor relationship, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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