….minding my own business and the next I had become a mentor.
Hello, my name is Doug Goldberg and Alex has asked that I start blogging on his site about something I’m passionate about – preferably revolving around business analysis. He didn’t exactly say what I should be passionate about though. Fortunately for him, I am passionate about business analysis as a whole, but I am going to focus what I post today and in the future around mentoring.
I’ve been working as analyst for a bit over 16 years and only in the last year and a half have I become a mentor to several people. I didn’t start out wanting to do this, it just kind of happened. I think it’s a confluence of me becoming more mature and wanting to pay my business analysis community back for helping me. I never had a mentor as I was growing my skills toolbelt, but I sure wish I had. I did, though, have many people who never turned away from helping me when I nedeed something in particular. Therefore, it’s important to me to do the same, and that’s where the mentoring started. Someone needed something and I had something to offer…though just this realization was very humbling for me. I had something to offer? Me? Really?
When I finally admitted this to myself, I began to answer a few questions and meet (virtually) a lot of new people. Eventually, the “M” word came to be when a couple of local up-and-coming analysts asked for some regular times during which we could meet. Before I knew it, I was being referred to as a mentor. While uncomfortable at first, I found that I really enjoyed the experience….I mean REALLY enjoyed it! What a fantastic thing to be able to give back to someone else with your mind. So here we are…you, me, the couch (Oh wait, that’s psychiatry)….and our brains.
I think that a good mentor/mentee relationship is the key to having a productive outcome. For me, it always starts with getting to know the person first. This is not unlike how I learn to work with stakeholders on the job. I’ve told my good friend Yaaqub that relationships have to come first before the parties involved can build trust and drop barriers that stand in the way of success. It’s no different here. I want to know how a person relates to others, what things are most valued in their lives, what their priorities and goals are, and what motivates them to succeed. Then we can talk about mentoring.
If the mentor and mentee don’t communicate on the same plane of existence, then much will get lost in translation. Considering the mentee is making an effort to invest in his or her own career by reaching out for a mentor, I certainly don’t want to waste time if there are considerable communication barriers or other obstacles. There are actually situations in which I’ve found that personal communication styles are larger obstacles than basic language or cultural barriers. In short, we have to “click”, though I should qualify that. We have to click to communicate, but I’m not there to be a friend. Rather, I believe a mentor should be more of a trusted advisor of sorts, who will push the mentee into uncomfortable territories in order to grow. So, there should be a general boundary, though unwritten, that sets the tone for a professional, yet pleasant relationship. I encourage anyone in any profession to think about what mentoring might bring to career and personal growt
In future writings, I’d like to be able to share some mentoring-related experiences with you, discuss mentoring “stuff” and most importantly learn from you.