Mentoring

Part of any leaders duties should be the ability to mentor people, to help them grow, understand and guide them in the right direction. Until recently, my mentoring solely consisted of helping people with any coding issues or questions that my team members may have. However, I was recently invited to a mentorship session as my current company, which went into some detail on the topic and opened my eyes up to various things I was oblivious to before, which I would like to share with you here.

Lets Trade

In order for mentorship program to work there needs to be mutual benefit for both parties. If only the mentor/mentee benefits then the mentorship will only go so far, as it will start to become a "chore" for one of them.

One thing to take note of is that you may have someone on your team that get energized and loves to teach people. These people make some really good mentors as they feel a sense of achievement & satisfaction when they help someone. For them that they thrive on that sense of reward, so be sure to keep a look out for those gems in your team :)

Lets GROW

At this session, I was introduced to the GROW model, which can help guide both you and the mentee to ensure that they get the most out of the experience. GROW is actually an acronym and stands for the following:

  • Goal
    For the initial point, you need to identify what it is that the mentee wants to achieve and agree to it. Essentially, you want to put the end goal in place so that you know where you are headed.

  • Reality
    This is an important step where the mentee needs to look at where they currently are. Basically, they need to understand where they are starting from and to identify what they are missing in order to get to their end goal.

  • Obstacles & Opinions
    Identify any obstacles that are in the way from achieving their goal. Remember, if they had no obstacles in their path they would have already reached their goal, so be sure to identify what those are.

    Once all the obstacles have been laid out on the table, then you need to look at the various options that you have in order to mitigate them. By all means, you can offer your advice here, but let the mentee come up with the suggestions and ideas first. Just try to guide them in the right direction, but don't make decisions for them.

  • Way Forward
    Once all the options have been discussed, select the most feasible ones and come up with an action plan. This should contain both time frames and any support that may be needed. By following the action plan they should be able to achieve their goal that was defined in the first step.

One thing to note is that there is no set time period for a mentorship as it can last from a few weeks to a few years. It all depends on whether or not value is still being added and benefiting both parties.

Lets Fail...Fast!

There seems to be a debate on whether or not you should allow the mentee to fail or not. Personally, I stand on the side where they should be allowed to fail, as from my personal experience I have learnt the greatest lessons from my failures. The important thing to remember here is that you need to fail fast, so you can understand why you failed and get to a better solution.

Once last word, remember to make the environment a safe place to discuss issues. You don't want people to be afraid to talk to you, or feel stupid for asking a question as this only serves to kill their confidence.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa