Great mentors do more than just motivate. They help (you) drive results.
Trust me, I know. With more than 14 years of experience playing basketball, including playing pro in the Middle East, I know the significance of having good mentors. And I can’t overstate the growth that comes from these critical relationships.
On and off the court, mentorship means camaraderie.
It gives people a sense of community and belonging. Workplace studies have shown that the most positive work cultures have a built-in sense of belonging, with good support structures in place at every level of the organization. People are at their most productive when they not only understand what their job function is, but when they also know how their roles fit in within the greater ecosystem of the business.
They feel a sense of self and purpose.
Mentoring in Tech is Good for Business
Actually, it’s great for any business. According to a Deloitte survey, of millennials planning to stay at their employer for 5+ years, 68% were 2x more likely to have a mentor. More than 80% were happy with their mentor. Only 61% of millennials planning to leave their jobs within two years were happy with their mentoring.
Recently, 80% of people surveyed on LinkedIn stated they either wanted to have a mentor or wanted to be a mentor. In late 2017 LinkedIn launched their Career Advice portal. So, not only is mentoring good for business, but people on both sides of the relationship want it.
Mentoring in tech (and other industries) has proven to increase employee retention and pave the way for career pathing – an essential vision to be maintaining and contributing to, especially in a job market full of new opportunities.
The Give/Take to Get Better
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
In a world where things are constantly changing, it’s nice to have someone in your corner. Someone who’s already been there/done that. In the technology industry, where I’ve been applying my team-minded approach and dedication to continuous improvement and learning for nearly three years, the basics of what I learned and continue to teach in basketball still apply.
Help. Guidance. Direction.
Mentors show us areas where we need to make improvements. Their viewpoint provides an objective, but also highly relevant, assessment of skill, as they are able to benchmark performance and relate it to their own. A mentor’s constructive criticism also provides a great opportunity to become more self-aware and to course correct in areas where there is an opportunity to do so.
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned from playing and being coached in basketball is about the power and importance of moderating ego. Everyone has one, but how you learn to harness your own is one-part discovery and one-part maintenance. This is probably the biggest value of mentorship, in that it provides regular self-reflection.
In individual contributing roles within IT, it can become easy to develop, build, code or function in a vacuum. When left unchecked, these environments can result in little-to-no self-assessment. There is most certainly less opportunity to stop and get better. As our careers grow, the ‘rites of passage’ diminish. We get comfortable. And this is what mentoring in tech helps us to avoid.
Mentorship provides perspective, and perspective comes from experience.
In an effort to avoid making the same mistakes they once did, mentors bring with them an abundance of experience that others can benefit learning from. It positions the next generation – whether basketball player or engineer – to be better. But this level of improvement – and evolution – can only take place when there is a concerted effort to learn from those who have already done it before and gained the experience.
Today, in addition to being an advisor at Triple Crown where I get to consult to businesses making IT hires, I am also a high school basketball coach. In my experience, no matter the industry, position on the team or role in the business, where you’ve been or where you’re going, there is always an opportunity to learn from the people who’ve done what you’re doing.
Experience is priceless.
Good mentors dually serve as fantastic connectors. Their networks, naturally, are bigger and deeper. Mentors can be a great source of additional connections, mentors and opportunities that translate to new work experiences.
The people I’ve learned the most from throughout my career are often the ones who introduced me to more mentors. In some cases, even better mentors. The way you interpret and apply someone else’s experience will be unique to you. You may also benefit from other people your mentors may not initially think to introduce to you. Always be thinking of who else you should be talking to on your way to your next goal.
And, it’s always a good idea to have mentors in a variety of capacities who can offer up a different piece of advice or provide perspective that another may not be able to. For instance, start-up experience versus corporate, agile versus waterfall, hardware versus software.
In an industry full of updates and innovations, where IT engineers are constantly being pulled in different, and sometimes competing, directions, it’s good to have mentorship. Whether it’s talking through multiple offers, working through project issues or discussing agency options, mentors are great resources to learn from.