Mentor tips to start a mentoring program, build mentoring relationship, and help developers with personal and professional development.
Keeping your tech team up to speed on the latest innovations in technology and ensuring professional skill development can be overwhelming. Integrating mentoring programs into your team’s culture is a great way to foster both meaningful work relationships and professional development opportunities within your organization.
In this blog post, you will find out what is mentorship and get tips for mentoring relationships to significantly improve productivity of the whole tech team and help mentors and mentees with professional development.
Mentorship is a professional relationship between two people, in which a person with more experience, knowledge, and connections (a mentor) can transfer what they have learned to a less experienced specialist (a mentee) in a particular field.
The activities of a mentor are aimed at maximizing the personal and professional development of the mentee.
However, it is important to note that mentoring process is not focused on a person's problems, but is aimed at skills development, so that a junior specialist can solve their problems and face challenges on their own.
Ideal mentoring is a two-way road, where both the mentor and the mentee benefit. Although at first glance, it seems that the mentee gets the main benefit — this is only one side of the coin.
By helping a junior employee become better, senior employees who become mentors not only gain the satisfaction of empowering employees, but also achieve success in management and get career advancement.
What is the purpose of a mentorship?
Tips for mentees
It's worth taking the time for software developers to find a good mentor, because it's one of the best ways to accelerate your professional growth. We will tell you more about what goals you should strive for with a mentor and how to find a suitable mentor for yourself in this section.
The skills of knowledge workers, especially software engineers, become obsolete very quickly, which is why developers need to constantly level up and learn. And mentoring program can help with that.
A good mentor will not only help you see growth points in your skill development, but also how to stay on top of the latest industry trends, join a community of like-minded people and build a development plan with appropriate learning activities.
How does a software developer benefit from mentorship?
Let's find out:
Learn about best practices and tools
Your mentor can teach you advanced programming techniques. Of course, it is useful to gain general knowledge about universal tools for a developer: programming languages, frameworks, etc. But it is especially helpful to learn how to tailor your programming skills to the needs of a particular team.
Find a better solution to a challenging problem
If you can't cope with a difficult task, mentoring programs can give a broader view of the problem and suggest a different angle or faster solutions. It is important to understand that, if the mentor solves the problem for you, this is the wrong way to go about it. It is better if the mentor can competently suggest which books, courses, and other resources can be studied on this topic. This will help you deal with difficult tasks on your own in the future.
Identify areas of growth
The mentor can honestly point out areas where you need to work on improving and getting new skills. It is absolutely normal that we do not notice our weaknesses, because it is human nature to avoid difficult tasks. And working on your weaknesses is one of the most difficult tasks that can stand in the way of achieving high results in your career.
A mentor can help you find the area of development that suits you best and that you like. Help from a senior colleague with a mentoring program will make your career path easier and help you avoid mistakes. Perhaps thanks to the timely advice of a mentor, you can create a career path and achieve your goals more quickly.
Support during remote work
How can you gain a rewarding experience when you work alone? A mentor will come to the rescue, immerse you in the culture of the company and help you build friendships with colleagues, from whom you can gain experience and with whom you will create successful projects. Remote work will not take you away from reality, if there is a specialist next to you, who is interested in integrating you into the development team.
How to find a mentor
Finding the right mentor is not an easy task. Firstly, he or she must be qualified in the area in which you want to develop; and secondly, you must have a match and the desire to trust your mentor.
Here are the ways you can find a mentor:
MENTORing PROGRAM AT THE WORKPLACE
Often, employers organize mentoring programs, where more experienced senior members train junior employees, help them with career growth, and give honest feedback.
It is a very good indicator if the company has a mentoring program. This means that the company cares about the development of its employees. Developers should use this opportunity, if the company involves them in such an onboarding process.
There are many professional communities, in which developers share knowledge, experience, and information. You can become a member of such a community, take an active part there, follow the specialists you are interested in and ask them for help. Many experienced developers, CTOs, or engineering managers are happy to share their experience and provide advice.
There are also specialized resources, where mentors and mentees can meet. You can find a list of such databases in our blog post.
The easiest way to find the right mentor (and most effective!) within your team or on other platforms is to use Ace AI. It analyzes the working activity of developers in Git, catches the skill gaps, and gives a recommendation on the most suitable mentor.
See how Ace AI personalized recommendations work in practice:
Signs that you and your mentor are a good match
How do you know if your mentor is right for you? We advise you to pay attention to the following signs, which show that you and the mentor will work together well and your cooperation will, indeed, be beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee.
If your mentor has gone through the same career points as you and has already achieved the goals you have in your mind - this person can help you avoid mistakes that he or she faced in the past and give valuable advice on career development.
Successful cases and completed challenges in relevant fields
Find out what achievements the mentor had when they started their career in development. If among them there are those that are relevant to your aspirations, the mentor will share their experience, help you achieve what you want faster, gain new skills.
A good mentor creates a growth plan, monitors your progress, and clearly tells you what you need to do to get to the next level. The stated goals at the start increase the chances of success at the end.
Available for regular meetings
Observe how responsive your mentor is and whether he or she responds in a timely manner to your problems. Also, in order to achieve the best results, it is important to meet regularly and summarize the outcomes of the iteration or task. Meetings, strategy sessions, and calls show the mentor's interest and involvement in your affairs.
A good listener
Assess the mentor as a person: is he/she listening to your ideas and professional difficulties? Does he/she give feedback? If yes, it will be easy for you to work together for a long time.
Shows interest in empowering others
The mentor should be interested in your growth and support your intention to take on more tasks or empower you to do so. For example, if at some point you want to not only write code, but also do testing or take on managerial tasks, a good mentor will do their best so that you feel supported in your development.
Open to flexible mentoring styles
There are different mentors and a lot of mentoring techniques, so the mentor should be ready to find what suits best for your work together and make sure everyone feels comfortable with it and be ready to build mentor relationships.
Ready to learn from a mentee
This is one of the most important points, because a person who is ready to admit that he/she does not know something and is ready to learn, can teach this skill to others. You will both feel satisfied if a mentorship session gives you both useful experience and new knowledge.
This is how a developer, or any other younger employee, can find potential mentors. Now let's find out how senior leaders can build mentoring relationships with more junior employees and effectively implement mentoring functions.
Tips for mentors
In this section, we will talk about why it is useful to become a mentor and give tips for mentoring relationship.
What are the benefits of becoming a mentor?
Ideal mentoring is a win-win story, where each side benefits from the interaction. Mentors also get benefits from conducting sessions with younger employees. This is new knowledge, and a new step in career, as well as an opportunity to influence the future.
Let's take a closer look. These are the benefits that mentors can get when they start working with mentees:
Next step in their career
Often, developers who have taken a senior position or become team leads do not see a further career path for themselves. Becoming a mentor is one of the roads a developer can grow into. Mentoring can be perceived as the highest career point, because a person grows from a specialist into an expert and influencer in their field.
Opportunity to contribute to the community
With their expertise, a mentor can influence the future of a field of activity that they are passionate about. It is an honor for every developer who truly loves what they do to oversee the transfer of best practices to future generations, make sure the industry develops, and empower employees.
New knowledge from young professionals
Although beginners do not have much experience in development, they have a lot of ideas and think broadly, while their everyday life is not busy with routine tasks. Plus, the mentor develops as a manager, and improves leadership skills and communication skills.
How to become a great mentor
To become a good mentor and build good mentoring relationships, you need to adhere to a certain ideology and order of actions in your work. Let's share a few behaviors, which mostly speak for themselves.
Tip #1: The best mentoring relationships eventually become two-way. Be ready to learn from your mentee.
Tip #2: Listen. Put the focus on the other person, his/her needs and difficulties.
Tip #3: Guide, don’t control. Mentees must make their own decisions, so direct and support, rather than dictating to them.
Tip #4: Give specific, actionable advice. Don’t be vague.
Tip #5: Be authentic; practice what you preach. Ask questions that encourage, inspire, and stimulate.
Tip #6: Be direct and tell the truth, however hard. Your mentee expects you to be objective and constructive.
In order for the mentoring program to become not just a discussion of problems, but an opportunity to solve specific problems, you need to have at your disposal a set of tools that will help increase efficiency:
A skills matrix will help a mentor determine what skills are needed for a particular role and what needs to be improved for a person to fit that role.
To simplify this process and choose relevant skills, use Ace AI skills matrix templates, or skill graphs, which are regularly updated for each tech role.
1-on-1 meetings to give regular feedback
To keep the mentor relationship structured and effective, the mentor should hold regular one-on-one meetings to monitor the progress of professional development and give feedback.
Ace AI helps to automate this process and allows you to write AI feedback for specific skills and save time.
Also, Ace AI builds automatic agenda for your 1-on-1 meeting to discuss growth plan progress based on developer updates from Git and growth plan initiatives.
A good PDP, or a professional development plan, should include a combination of learning activities and working tasks on developing focus skills in order to successfully implement continuous learning in the workflow of a tech team and meet career goals faster.
You can also automate the process of creating a personalized professional development plan with AI. Ace AI uses Git data to find skills gaps and creates a development goal with recommendations on mentors and learning materials based on these skill gaps and helps you to build strong and effective mentoring relationship.
The cooperation between the mentor and the mentee is important for both parties. A young specialist develops the skills, and a mentor builds up expertise in management.
When choosing a mentor, it is important to find a person with whom the match will be successful. This can be determined by the existing skill gaps, the relevance of experience, goals, and similarities of interests.
To build successful mentoring relationship, The mentor should only direct and support mentees, rather than giving ready-made decisions. Learning to make decisions and move tasks forward is the main goal of mentoring.
To make mentorship sessions more effective, a mentor should use special tools like skill matrices, meeting templates, and AI-powered tools to automate mentorship and make it more effective.