Experiences from a mentee/mentor


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This is an IGNITE talk I gave at UPA 2012 (aka UxPA 2012). In it I discuss the mentoring contract, what has worked well, and what hasn't. If you download the presentation, you can see the speaker notes, which tell you what I said while the slides were displaying.

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  • The program was competitive. Only 30 – 40 people were accepted for each 6-month term. To be accepted, a person had to have high performance reviews, the recommendation of their manager(s), and a solid goal.
  • Once accepted into the program, the mentee had to identify 5 people whom they would like to have mentor them, and then write a paragraph on why they would like to have that person as a mentor. I was lucky. I got my first choice.
  • My goal for the relationship was to find a grad program that would take me into my next job. I was a technical writer who had been taking Six Sigma classes. I wasn’t sure if I wanted an MBA, an MS in Instructional Design, or to somehow go into research.
  • The results exceeded my expectations. Rather than 6 months, my mentor and I met every other week for three years. During that time I identified a grad program, I changed jobs, and I got to know the people in SunLabs, including my first co-author.
  • Also during that time, I was twice tapped by my management team to be a mentor in the user experience group. These programs were different than the SEED program, but I was excited to have the opportunity to share what I had learned.
  • My mentees were mostly remote. They worked in California and Bangalore. Later when I was tapped to be a SEED mentor, my mentees were in Boston, and Prague.
  • Like me, they had specific goals. They wanted to change careers, get promotions, or just get recognition for their work. Over time, I created a short list of recommended books, to which I’ll add one more today: the 27 powers of persuasion.
  • As I saw patterns in what I talked about with my mentees, I was inspired to write some of the topics up as blog posts. For example, how do you get promoted? I had a reliable recipe, so why not share it?
  • Likewise, when they were interested in changing roles, I could tell them what a career counselor had told me, and had worked well: learn as much as you can about the job, take some classes or get a degree, and while you’re doing that, try doing the job before you get job.
  • I wanted them to succeed in every professional encounter – not just with their managers, but with peers, executives, and clients. So I coached them on effective communication, dealing with difficult people, and communicating their value.
  • So of the 6 mentoring relationships I’ve told you about so far, I consider all of them successes. Promotions were earned and awarded and friendships were made. But we don’t learn as much from our successes, as we do our failures.
  • I have had experiences where formal mentoring relationships didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to – one with a mentor and one with a mentee. In the case of the mentor, I learned that someone else’s path to success may not be mine.
  • In both cases, I learned that the contract is important. Not just agreeing to it, but enforcing it. What happens if someone cancels a meeting? What is the agenda for each meeting? Whose responsibility is it to follow up if a deadline passes?
  • That sounds a lot like work, right? So that’s my recommendation. Take the relationship seriously, and follow up. If something’s not working talk about it. If a deadline passes, make a new date. If someone has to cancel, reschedule.
  • However, if you are looking at me and thinking I might be a good mentor for you, I have to tell you some things – I can’t give you a job, I’m not a personal trainer, I’m not a marriage counselor and I’m not a life coach.
  • What I will do is help you get that promotion, help you set goals, and help you achieve them. I can recommend books and classes. I will give you my advice but I can’t make you take it. If I’m not a great match for you, I can introduce you to someone who is.
  • But not all mentoring is formal. Actually, most it is informal, and happens all the time. My former professors are my mentors. So are my friends and colleagues. So look around you. Make friends, ask questions, follow up in email.
  • Experiences from a mentee/mentor

    1. 1. Experiences from a The viewsexpressed in this Mentee/Mentorpresentation are my own and do Jen McGinn, not necessarily Principal User Researcher, Oraclereflect the views of Oracle
    2. 2. 2 The SEED program “SEED (Sun Engineering Enrichment and Development) is a prestigious engineering leadership grooming program of which mentoring is the major component.” http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1698217
    3. 3. 3 SEED application materials ๏ Resume ๏ Manager’s recommendation ๏ Application form - Prior 3 years performance ratings - Why you want a mentor and goals are for the 6-month mentoring term - Agreement that you will drive the relationship
    4. 4. 4 SEED mentor selection ๏ Mentee chooses 5 potential mentors, and writes a paragraph on why they would be a good match ๏ SEED program staff contact the first person on the list, read the paragraph to them, and ask if they want to be matched ๏ If the mentor accepts, great! If not, move down the list
    5. 5. 5 Goal
    6. 6. 6 Results C I H MS HFID
    7. 7. 7 My turn to be the mentor Me Me
    8. 8. 8 My turn to be the mentor Me California India Boston Boston Prague
    9. 9. 9 Recommended reading ๏ Career warfare (DAlessandro) ๏ Unlocking the clubhouse (Margolis & Fisher) ๏ The unwritten laws of engineering (Skakoon) ๏ 27 powers of persuasion (Hilaire&Padwa) https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/ entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees
    10. 10. 10 Getting promoted ๏ Ask your manager for the promotion ๏ Come up with a game plan together ๏ Deliver on your goals ๏ Voila! https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/ entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees1
    11. 11. 11 Getting a new job/career ๏ Read about the new kind of work ๏ Take a class (or two or ten) in that new field ๏ Start doing that kind of work in your current role https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/ entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees2
    12. 12. 12 Working with humans ๏ Effective communication https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees3 ๏ Dealing with difficult people https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees4 ๏ Communicating your value https://blogs.oracle.com/jen/entry/things_i_tell_my_mentees5
    13. 13. 13 Successes ๏ Promotions ๏ Friendships ๏ Ongoing connections via LinkedIn But not every experiment is a success …
    14. 14. 14 Failures Me Mentee 6 Mentor 2 You may not feel comfortable taking the same path as another person
    15. 15. 15 Failures Me Mentee 6 Mentor 2 Unclear goals No regular meetings No deadlines for commitments
    16. 16. 16 Mentoring is like work ๏ Plan it ๏ Talk about it ๏ Reschedule when necessary
    17. 17. 17 What I’m not as a mentor ๏ Hiring manager ๏ Personal trainer ๏ Marriage counselor ๏ Life coach
    18. 18. 18 What I can do as a mentor ๏ Help you get that promotion ๏ Set goals and achieve them ๏ Introduce you to other people who can help ๏ Recommend books and classes ๏ Give you my best advice
    19. 19. 19 Not all mentoring is formal ๏ Former professors ๏ Friends ๏ Colleagues ๏ The person on your left ๏ The person on your right ๏ The person sitting behind you ๏ Who else?
    20. 20. Thank you! jen dot mcginn at oracle dot com The viewsexpressed in thispresentation are my own and do Images: not necessarily http://microsoft-diploma.notlong.comreflect the views http://microsoft-paper.notlong.com of Oracle http://microsoft-newjob.notlong.com