Tuesday, October 9, 2012

the value in being mentored

In Calgary we have an excellent PMI chapter who have the vision to run a really great mentoring program for some lucky PMs. How do I know this? I'm one of their mentors.  

If you are not lucky enough to be in the PMI_SAC program what can you do? There is real value in having a mentor and they are  around you everyday if you look. 

Who could your mentor be?

We often have a contact with people in our lives that walk their talk in certain areas or have skills that we would like to emulate ourselves.

Life is full of mentors, and realising this helps us build our own expertise and the resources that help us succeed. Mentors can come from all walks of life and, like friends there is no one mentor that fits all; no-one will match you exactly because well, because you are you.

People who intimidate us because they are great at what they do or who give good strong (and sometimes hard to hear) feedback will make the best mentors. If someone around you inspires you to step up and do better they might be the very person you are looking for.

Informal mentors

Many of us have mentors in our life just because they are around us when we need them - proximity mentors if you will.

This mentor is unlikely to know that they are your mentor, you simply benefit from being exposed to their experience. For some potential mentors the mentoring arrangement has to not only informal but strictly watch and learn. Other times you might be able to ask curious questions which get a potential mentor to reveal more about how or why they do something in a particular way.

Formal mentors

Managing to be in a formalized mentoring relationship opens up your mentors experience to you more fully. You can easily ask them questions, they by being a mentor will make time available for just that.

Additionally, trained or experienced mentors will start to ask you questions to draw out what your challenges are, what you already know and help you build on your natural talents.

Asking curious questions

Whether you are in a formal or informal mentoring relationship developing curiosity is the first step in learning.  Formulating curious questions is a way to explore something without the expectation of knowing the answer. They are open ended questions, often not fully (or grammatically - eek! don’t tell my grammar mentor!)  formulated. They are designed to get the other person talking.

How did you chose that approach?
I’m intrigued how your worked out that ...
Would you mind telling me more about the way you ...
You always seem to successful in this situation, how do you get it to work out so often?
If you can’t ask your mentor a question directly or can only ask questions infrequently then your curious question helps you focus on what you want to observe in the mentor’s behaviour.

The best way to learn from a mentor is to be curious and act on it. So, who’s your mentor?

If you would like to be experience the coaching aspect of mentoring the Calgary Project Managers Mastermind Group is a great place to meet one 

or you can call me

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