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The Power of Mentorship

The Power of Mentorship

26th May, 2022

Read the previous blog of the series:

Hello to the Testhouse family! This is what I hope will be the first in a series of blog posts aimed at sharing insights… Read more

Hello to the Testhouse family! This is my second blog in a series of posts aimed at sharing insights into things I have learned or experienced in my career in testing to date. If you find anything that sparks your interest or have follow-up questions, then please let me know.

In my last blog, I touched on mentorship, conferences, and the value of networking. This blog continues the mentoring theme and focuses on the benefits of having a mentor and how you can go about finding one.

I have always loved helping people in my teams develop their skills and careers through mentoring and coaching. I am often contacted by organisations such as the BCS and by practitioners directly to help with career progression through mentoring, and it’s a part of my role that I find very rewarding.

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It’s worth spending a few minutes exploring what mentorship is. If we turn to Wikipedia, we find this definition.

“Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. In an organisational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee. Most traditional mentorships involve having senior employees’ mentor more junior employees, but mentors do not necessarily have to be more senior than the people they mentor. What matters is that mentors have the experience that others can learn from.”

I think this definition is great. I love the fact that it uses influence, guidance, and direction and ties this to the personal and professional growth of a mentee. I also really like the fact that it calls out that mentors do not need to be more senior than the mentee, simply because they have experience others can learn from.

I realised that I needed a mentor for the first time when I had my first job in organisational testing strategy and needed some input from a more experienced practitioner who could act as a sounding board for some of my ideas and challenges. Everyone is different, but the following circumstances are often triggers for searching for a mentor:

  • when joining an organisation (new-hire mentor)
  • when you need to think about a promotion or job change.
  • when you have a specific challenge(s) and need guidance and advice
  • when you need access to a broader network of influential people.
  • when being asked to “act up” in readiness for a new role or more senior position
  • When you need any of these, a cheerleader or advocate, confidant, counsellor, developer of talent, griot (oral historian for the organisation or profession), guardian, guru, inspiration, master, “opener of doors”, patron, role model, successful leader, or teacher?
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Once you have identified that you may benefit from having a mentor, it pays to understand the type of mentor that would be suitable and how to go about finding one! Things to consider are:

  • Am I able to articulate clearly what my needs are, why I am looking for a mentor, and what my intended outcomes are?
  • Do I want a “technical” or “personal development” mentor? Can I get both from the same person if required?
  • Do I need an internal mentor from my organisation or an external industry mentor?
  • Personal fit is so important. What characteristics, traits, and behaviours should I seek in a mentor for us to work well together?
  • What are my preferences for engagement? Remote, face-to-face or a mixture?
  • How will I approach the question or request for mentorship?
  • Will I commit the time and effort required to undertake not only the meetings with a mentor but also the additional challenges and tasks they may set for me?
  • What can I do to make the engagement as easy as possible for my mentor? Am I prepared to set up the meetings, invitations, and travel as necessary so a mentor can accommodate me more easily?
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The last question to answer is: Where can I find a mentor? There are quite a few routes open to you, such as networking, word of mouth, conferences, and meetups. People who speak at conferences are sharing their expertise freely and are sometimes willing to mentor industry peers. You can contact professional bodies such as the British Computer Society and, if appropriate, look internally within your organisations, as management and leadership development programmes often require attendees to have a mentee as part of their own development. The testing industry is full of helpful, supportive, and well-connected people who can and do help. Use your connections to help you reach the right person.

Of course, Testhouse has career testers and senior practitioners with the experience and capability to help you with your questions and challenges. If you think we can be of assistance, please get in touch for a discovery call; we are here to help.

You can contact me at mike.jarred@testhouse.net.

About the author

Mike Jarred | Director of Client Success

Mike helps companies release amazing working software and coaches
technologists to achieve the career of their dreams.
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