In my previous blog about the mentor-mentee relationship, I wrote about mentorship and our personal responsibility of obtaining support. In this blog, I present you with 5 tips on how to get the most out of your mentor-mentee relationship and own the process of your career development.
5 tips for optimising your mentor-mentee relationship
Starting to work in a new environment is not easy, especially if it’s your first job. People you’re surrounded with are often more experienced, used to the environment and know how things work. Feeling overwhelmed or intimidated is perfectly normal. It is also normal to react to that by keeping your head down, doing your tasks and trying to ask as little questions as possible so you don’t bother others. However, doing that would slow your progress and your integration into the team. Your mentor is there to help you and answer your questions, you should take advantage of that. Also, questions that come from you can be helpful to others because people who work on a project for a longer period of time are used to all the processes. By asking questions you can uncover blind spots that only a fresh pair of eyes could notice.
Asking questions is one thing, but giving suggestions when you just started to work is a whole different thing, right? Well, my advice is to be brave and share your ideas with you mentor and/or your team. Maybe your ideas won’t work out, still, you will never know unless if you never try. In the end, even if your idea is not possible, you will find out the reasons why and learn from this.
Write it down
What if you have a lot of questions and don’t want to bother your mentor every minute? It is important for you to figure out which answers you need to get in order to continue your work and which answers can wait. If you need information to continue your work, ask your mentor, but if not, write those questions down, so you could ask your mentor what you need to know when the time is more appropriate.
Talk about talking
There are different kinds of mentorships. Sometimes a mentor works with a mentee directly, and sometimes a mentor is on another project. Sometimes a mentor sits next to a mentee and sometimes he or she is not even in the same office. In those cases, when you do not talk to your mentor on a daily basis it can be a challenge to maintain productive communication. So, in these cases, it can be helpful to talk with your mentor about establishing regular communication. For example, you can agree to set-up a weekly meeting where you discuss the problems you encountered. Also, you can agree on what is the best way to contact your mentor when it is important for you to get information immediately.
Ask for help
It is important to ask questions and share your ideas, but if you really want to make the best progress possible, focus on the things you can’t figure out alone. The best way to learn is by doing something on your own. When you encounter an obstacle, you can ask yourself ‘is this something that is urgent or can I take my time?’. If it is not urgent, you shouldn’t ask your mentor how to deal with it straight away. Instead, google it, think about it and then talk to your mentor about possible solutions. Make it more of a discussion rather than a Q&A session. If you succeed in doing what you need alone, sit down with your mentor afterwards to see whether there is something you could have done differently to make things faster, more optimised, easier to understand, and what could be done next. There is always room for improvement, recognising this and working on ourselves is what makes us better, stronger, faster.
All information in this specific blog represents the personal opinion of Mirna Dajanovic and does not necessarily reflect that of Atlantbh.