12 July 2015
Mentoring Process Journal – First Month
Mentoring Process Journal – First Month

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance” (The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring). 

As mentoring is getting more and more popular and for young generations together with coaching and gaminification become preferable methods of development,  I have decided to post mentoring experience from mentee’s perspective. Michal Balkowski, a student of Technical University of Gdansk, will share his experience from our mentoring relationship.

More on mentoring, icluding  benefits can be found in my previous posts.

The Start and the Mentoring Plan

My mentor I and have met twice up till now. We discussed mostly about preparing the mentoring plan. Surprisingly, planning took more time than I expected. Even now I feel like the mentoring plan is not ready yet. I still keep asking myself: should the plan be set in stone from the beginning, or should I leave some room for changes. My plans are constantly changing and have to adapt to unforeseen and independent factors. I end up missing deadlines I set by myself. I consider that as a big and dangerous failure on my part. Not meeting other’s people deadlines can happen – it’s possible they hadn’t taken all the factors in, and wrongly assessed our performance. But if I decide my own deadlines and fall to meet them, the fault is mine alone. After a consideration, I suspect one or more of the factors below is responsible for failing in meeting deadlines set by myself:

  • the need to impress both my mentor and myself may result in setting deadlines I am simply not able to meet,
  • my inability or inexperience in taking all the factors under consideration when making plans,
  • my work ethics,
  • my inability or wrongly developed skills in prioritizing,
  • the way I implement my plans,
  • too many assignments,
  • inability, inexperience or wrongly developed skills in multitasking.

Recently I was able to recognize and fix one of the faults. I would take as many assignments as possible, with regard only to time I need for meetings with other people, providing little time for for learning or preparing for those meetings. As I started to plan time I need to prepare I discovered that most of my time should be free up, because learning, working and preparing should be done by oneself, alone and in peace.

The other fault of mine is using DDD framework, better known as Deadline Driven Development, or as my mentor pointed out, student syndrome. DDD is fairly easy to use (as one have to only do things that are imminent), but has no buffer for any delays. My fault is that I am not giving myself enough time to prepare.

I started to prioritize my assignments and other people wants. If it’s not important, or not immininent, I give it a little time in a fixed time every day. I also stopped responding to every message every time someone wants something from me. I started to check my messages regularly every morning and every evening, responding to all of them at the same time. To my surprise, this kind of conduct made me feel much less stressful. Also, I understood that doing a lot, is not equal to doing a lot meaningful things. It only gives an illusion of it.

One could say that this is irrelevant to my mentoring process. But for me, being a manager is to be able to plan and execute the plans with the help of other people. So first, I have to be able to make my own plans and learn to execute them accordingly. Only after I will be able to lead others.

Creating and Motivating a Successful Team

After my mentor sent me materials about motivation I wrote an article in Polish on motivation and leadership in students- projects. I was able to learn about Herzberg Theory, McGregor X and Y Theories, Stewart’s U and T theories, Ouchi’s Z theory, Blanchard’s cycle of life theory and Burn’s theory of leadership. I don’t want to write too much as I will try to publish it. But there are two things I have learned from writing an artice about leadership. Firstly, the connection between members, the communication, and trust between the members that we can rely on everyone are extremely important. Secondly, that learning how to do things in proper way urges you to come forward in your organization, especially when you have read that you were right about something, and why coming forward can end badly for you.

You need to have clear rules, to have an understanding with all of your teammates about who is renponsible and for what. You also need to have them trust you, that they can tell you they are not able to accomplish specific task without being ostracized for their failure. But to do so, you need to be the one building the trust between everyone.

The other thing was the urge to come forward in your organization. I had that urge, but then I started to consider what would happen. Would anyone listen to me just because I read something?Doubtedly, if noone listened to me before means noone trusted me enough. And if noone trusted me enough that wouldn’t change just because I have learned something on my own. In my opinion my coming forward with propositions how to change it would become just like all the other times, because only mine perspective changed. And after some consideration I have come to the conclusion, that I would spend my time better by pursuing my other interests, like education or involvement with other organizations, where I could feel I am making a difference.

The last thing I would like to write here is that I have realized what really makes one to be loyal and motivated. It’s the feeling of being a part of something bigger, greater, the feeling of being a part of the process, being able to make a change, to shape the future. It is also a feeling of being needed. If noone trusts us and we do not trust others, than neither we or the others will be able to feel that their or our actions change anything or something depends on our or their actions. That we  or them are needed. That’s why it’s so important to listen and talk about ideas with our coworkers and subordinates. So we can all feel that what we are doing have sense and is not futile. But to be able to do what we need is to be able to withstand other people critisism. We also have to be able to self reflect on ourselves. We have to trust, that everyone has something that we can learn from. Because if we don’t, then the believe we are smarter then others will only lead us to ignorance and from that it’s too easy to fall.

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