Embrace mentoring as a way of life.
In the new world where we all live in, you constantly need to grow and develop. You can achieve this by constantly reading, listening and learning. The world is constantly evolving and careers are rapidly changing. You no longer have the luxury to slowly develop your way into new areas. You need to rapidly learn.
One of the best ways to take a leap is to take a mentor when you have a challenging development in front of you. Picking the right mentor is not an easy task but is worth the effort.
At some points in your career you may feel that you have mastered some areas, and while you always have something to learn, it becomes harder to find the right mentor or define the right goals for the mentoring sessions.
One of the ways to continue learning is to start teaching. By selecting to mentor someone, you don’t just help them in their career development, but you can challenge yourself and shape your beliefs.
Product Management Mentoring
The necessity of mentoring is very strong for entrepreneurs. They understand immediately that they need to get a mentor for themselves and to mentor others as well. This is because the only real way to learn how to build a good startup is to build one yourself. Also, they need to master many areas quickly.
Product management is not so different. You need be able to work in many areas and there is no way you can be strong in all of them. Getting a mentor in the areas you need to develop and mentoring in the areas you want to strengthen is one way to get better in all of them.
Mentoring also forces you to improve your communication and empathy skills. Two qualities that are very important for product managers.
No matter which company you are in, eventually you cannot practice working daily in all areas of product management. You may be in a B2B company and not experience enough B2C challenges. You may be in a technology company and not experience enough UX challenges. The list is endless. Mentoring someone else is a chance to stay comfortable with areas you may not touch on during your daily work.
Don't be Selective
Don’t limit yourself to mentoring only product managers. There are many people that may need your advice, including entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and more.
Just make sure it a two-way relationship in which you both give and gain.
Think Mentoring in Every Interaction
Don’t limit yourself to only organized mentoring meeting. In any interaction you do at work or even at life, there is something to teach and learn, as long as you don’t do it patronizingly. You can take something back to your work from every experience you have.
Be Mentee's Centered
Your attitude to mentoring is very important. When you approach mentoring, do it with no expectation to get anything in return, even though you will usually find that you get back plenty.
Make mentoring a two-way relationship and do not be afraid to be authentic and expose yourself. Make it all about the mentee. Listen carefully with a lot of empathy and be direct. Don’t be afraid to tell the hard truth and challenge your mentee. Don’t try to control your mentee. Instead you need to guide them.
Don’t take mentoring lightly. You owe it to your mentee to be as professional as you can. Try not just to focus on your mentee, but also on the process of mentoring, and how you can develop as a mentor.
Some other’s thoughts on mentoring:
I will continue this line of thought in a series of mini blogs in Product League.
Start mentoring tomorrow. Find the right opportunity.
Go Mentor. Be a Giver.