How to build a great mentor/mentee relationship when everyone’s WFH

Did you know Ingrid Ødegaard is speaking at TNW2020 this year? Check out their session on ‘How to compete with tech giants’ here.

As a distributed team, employees at Whereby are encouraged to explore opportunities to connect with individuals both inside and outside of the company. Recently, a few members of our support team participated in a mentoring program run through the Support Driven Community, and we wanted to share our thoughts on the experience and how mentoring can be extremely impactful for an employee’s growth.

It’s well known that there are a number of challenges when it comes to remote work, like isolation or loneliness; but resources for combatting these are rarely talked about. Sometimes the most immediate place you can bounce ideas off is your dog, who thinks all of your ideas are excellent…

Growing personally can be difficult in the absence of opportunities found in a traditional office setting — accountability, networking, and the immediacy of a work community to name a few. Encouraging mentoring relationships is one thing we do at Whereby to help push through those challenges and foster personal growth.

A number of programs in the tech community have been created to connect mentees and mentors. However, mentorship doesn’t have to happen in a formal setting or even through an established program to be a successful experience. All it takes is an intentional commitment from the mentor, the mentee, and maybe the help of a few of your favorite tools like Whereby to connect.

Mentor and mentee connecting via Whereby
Vincent (Support Specialist @ Whereby) with his mentee Carvin (Support Manager @ Showbie)

Being a mentor

A lot of our time spent at work is focused on the present and future; what tasks are upcoming, what do I need to complete today, etc. In many situations there is less time to reflect on what you’ve completed; what went well, what didn’t go so well, and how can it be improved the next time around. Mentoring another person not only affords time to do this reflection, but in a setting where another person is actively guiding you through that reflection.

Being a mentor has challenged my perspective as a people leader and opened my eyes to better ways to commit to investing in not just my mentee, but my work team as well. — Ashley Sachs, Customer Support Manger @ Whereby

Through this reflection, you’re fostering another professional’s development in their career. Seeing this progression is extremely rewarding, and only reinforced the positivity of being a mentor.

As an added bonus, mentoring is a great way to build connections in your industry. The next time you have an open position, it’s possible the very person you’ve been mentoring is a perfect fit. Plus they likely already have a deeper understanding of your team dynamic, something a different outside candidate wouldn’t have!

Being a mentee

A successful mentor/mentee relationship relies heavily on on the mentee to have a clear idea on where they need help, as this gives the mentor a solid base to work from. Write out a list of areas where you’re struggling or confused, and give this list to prospective mentors to see if they have expertise that can help. It could be a broad topic like career growth, or maybe you have specific goals related to reducing customer churn. Whatever the case, putting these thoughts to paper will kickstart the mentorship and give it direction.

…I wasn’t sure where I wanted my career to take me, and this being my first experience with a small team I was having trouble juggling all of my various tasks and projects. — Vincent Levinger, Customer Support Specialist @ Whereby

For professionals new to remote work, finding your passion and deciding on a direction for your career can be more stressful than your new job. The path isn’t as regimented as it may have been in school or a larger corporation, and the easiest way to get through this is by asking others how they tackled the issue themselves.

Another underrated aspect of having a mentor/mentee is that you have an outlet to discus problems or struggles that you may not feel comfortable talking about internally with your team. Having another person in the same industry to share with to is vastly more productive than venting to your friends or family — your mentor/mentee has likely experienced similar issues in their own workplace. Not only can they relate to your experience, but they can offer helpful advice on how to move past the issues or overcome them.

Find your own mentor/mentee

For other professions, check out your favorite slack community to see if they have an established program, or reach out to your contacts on LinkedIn! It’s a great compliment when someone seeks your advice, so you may find it easier than expected.

Published September 8, 2020 — 08:13 UTC

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