George and Glen
Mentoring: you get out what you put in...
At Propel Tech, we believe professional mentoring is key to supporting growth and passing on skills - including the softer ones - particularly as fewer people are working in close physical proximity these days.
We caught up with mentor AND mentee - our web team leader, Glen, and our graduate developer, George - to discover more about the far-reaching benefits of mentoring for everyone involved.
Have you benefited from being mentored?
Glen: Yes, at the start of my career. I had two or three mentors in both formal and less formal capacities. When my work was scrutinised, I learned to improve various aspects. Other mentors were more supportive from an emotional, bigger-picture viewpoint. It was these people that made a big impact on my attitude and wider perspective.
George: I have benefited massively from being mentored. We graduates need to have someone to support us on our learning journey and teach us how things work in the IT industry.
How is it mentoring George?
Glen: I’ve had the privilege of mentoring six or so people over the years. To nurture and watch someone grow in confidence and productiveness is a great part of my job. George is a vocal character and has an open personality, so it’s easy to work with him. He is happy to take direction, ask for help, and give feedback.
How is it being mentored by Glen?
George: Glen helped me a lot when I first started in the position of graduate web developer. He understood the level of my knowledge from the first day and has always involved me in team collaboration projects that have developed my skills and confidence at a pace that’s right for me.
What does a mentor do?
Glen: A mentor is there to guide someone through the technical aspects of a job and provide a roadmap for their learning and potential career path. There is also an element of teaching someone how to behave by establishing clear expectations. Mentoring sessions, whether formal or informal, must be a safe space to discuss work and sometimes personal situations too.
George: A good mentor will show you how to approach your work in a way that’s right for the company, guide you as you build your knowledge, and provide tasks according to your level.
What advantages can mentoring bring to the person doing the mentoring?
Glen: Mentoring another individual gives you a chance to reflect on your own approach to problems and work in general. It also provides great satisfaction in seeing a person grow through giving something back from your own experiences.
What advantages can mentoring bring to the overall business?
Glen: Mentoring is a big, yet important investment for a business, which, when delivered effectively, will see the mentored person become a rounded, work-ready employee who has been guided to meet the needs of the company both in terms of skill and mentality.
George: It helps people learn about the company’s approach and way of working, which can only improve productivity.
Should mentoring be done formally or informally (or a mix)?
Glen: A mix. When learning you need to make a safe space for questions and discussion.
George: Formally when it is necessary, and informally to make the mentored person feel more comfortable.
What skills must a person possess to be an effective mentor?
Glen: In addition to technical knowledge, a clear understanding of the wider picture, both within the company and the industry as a whole, is critical, as is an approachable nature and the ability to share knowledge in simplified ways - which comes down to having the right personality as well as experience.
George: An effective mentor should have great social and communication skills coupled with good technical knowledge
What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to try their hand at mentoring?
Glen: It’s rewarding but at times a challenge, particularly in a fast-paced, busy environment. I think you get as much out of the process as you put in.
George: Try to find weaknesses and strong areas of your mentored person and make sure you find the time for regular meetings and updates. Try to encourage them and make them feel comfortable.
What advice would you give a business wanting to increase mentoring within its workplace:
Glen: Create a structure for regular monthly meetings to assess progress, a clear training plan, and informal time and space to discuss issues. Time investment from the mentor needs to be understood to ensure they can commit to, and are supported in this very important role.
George: The business must make sure that the candidates for a mentor position have excellent soft skills such as time management, communication, adaptability, and critical thinking.