Mentoring process journal – second month

[:en]Michal Balkowski, a student of Technical University of Gdansk, sharing his experience from second month of mentoring. First month can be found here.

The mentor’s positiveness

One of the most important things I have ever encountered while working with others is their positiveness. The simple fact, that we can make mistakes, and other people will be positive about it, or simply act like nothing happened can make us trust them. This is a deciding factor why I am encouraged to learn from my mentor. No matter how many mistakes I make, no matter if I forget about something or not able to meet the deadline, my mentor would just treat it like nothing happened. Thanks to that, I believe that my mentor really cares and that she allows me to make mistakes because it’s a way for me to become better, to learn from my mistakes.

People often forget why learning is easy and why it’s not. It’s not easy when we are scared of falling. But when we don’t care about making mistakes, then there is nothing holding us back. That’s why this is one of the reasons, my mentoring process is giving fruit. Because I can simply relax and enjoy it. And because it relaxes me and I enjoy it, I learn from my own volition.

This reasoning and experience is supported by two theories. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to be safe is much stronger then the need to selfactualization. If the need of safety (we are fearing our mistakes) is endangered, then the need of selfactualization won’t have much effect.

The other theory is the Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory (known as two-factor theory). This theory states that motivation is a result of two factors, the motivators and the hygiene factors. The motivators are what motivates us (they can give us satisfaction, but their absence results in no satisfation). The hygiene factors are what makes us dissatisfied (their absence results in no dissatisfaction, but also without any satisfaction). So even there are many motivators, if the hygiene factor is strong, people won’t be motivated. Thus, if the dissatisfaction that comes from the possible consequences of falling is greater then the motivators that come from the possible achievement, people won’t be motivated.

To sum it up, the lesson every teacher should learn from my mentor is „make your student feel that mistakes are not only allowed, but also an important part of the learning process.”

Creating and motivating a successful team ” the context, ah, you bad context

My mentor many times lectured me about the importance of low context sentences, when talking to other team members. Never did I know, how quickly I would see just how important it really is.

In one of the projects I lead I asked one of my teammates to take care of one of the functionalities. To my surprise, after he said he did, I found out he didn’t! I was shocked! I knew the man, and he wasn’t the one to lie about such things!

I started thinking about the whole situation and I realized, that because of the convienience, I named the part of the problems the same way I named the whole problems. It was pretty convenient at the time, but the results were catastrophic! While I was asking my teammate to create the solution to a problem, he understood that I was asking to create a solution for a part of the problem. To make it worse, he created the solution to this part while I was working near him and he was asking me about the things he was working on. After considering what happened I realized, that the fault was mine. Not only I failed to clearly communicate, what I wanted to be done, I also failed to check if what he did was what I wanted, trusting that everything was alright. The lesson here is, always be specific.[:]

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