How to make the most of your mentor’s meeting
Amongst the many new ways mentors and mentees can now connect in our digital age, a dedicated meeting or call is still the best way to gain insights from your mentor while building a strong relationship.
I see many of our SAP Mentors share their knowledge and advice via blogs and Answers to the benefit of many members of the SAP Community. However, if you’ve had the fortune of having a mentor, or the fortune of mentoring someone, I think you’ll agree this one-on-one time is precious and should therefore be treated with care.
Not being late for your meeting or call, and sending your mentor a note of thanks for their time and advice are obvious social graces we all should practice. Here are a few other points mentees should keep in mind to make meetings go smoothly and benefit both parties:
Make a list of your goals and objectives. At the very least, know what you want to tell, ask, learn, or achieve before you meet. Your engagement can be casual and conversational, but make no mistake – your mentor is fully expecting to help you where possible in that short amount of time, so don’t waste it.
Share your story with your mentor. Wait – shouldn’t the mentor be the one doing most of the talking? It’s true, you should be ready with questions (preferably open-ended questions), then be ready to listen with an open mind. However, mentors want to learn from you as much as they learn from reflecting on the advice and lessons they share. Furthermore, stories are great to start conversations.
Take notes of your meeting. It certainly doesn’t have to be ‘contemporaneous notes.’ Whether or not you agree with what your mentor told you, the purpose of keeping notes is to help you remember the discussion topics so you can keep the conversation going. What supporting or opposing or related material can you find about the topics can you include in your thank you note, and can you share in your next meeting with your mentor?
That’s not it! I invite others to share their pointers and tips from a mentor and mentee’s perspective.
And other than SAPHIRE or TECHED just how do you meet a mentor? How do you find a list of mentors? This is a bit dated. When you are putting together a SIT it would be nice to be able to find local mentors or ask them to present via video.
Oh yes, what is a SIT and how do you put it together? It's an SAP Inside Track and this WIKI will get you started. One on one time with a mentor is easier with less people there.
BTW - I read this because I was curious. Of course the title kind of made me think you were talking about mentors meeting as a meeting that only mentors went to. But I knew that probably wasn't what it was all about.
Hi Michelle, yes, you are absolutely right - this is definitely a general topic about the benefits of mentorship. Formal mentoring relationships don't exist as much as I expected (based on my limited polling of interns I speak to in Vancouver - although we have lots of interns, it's still a generalization I'm making). Perhaps when we consider 'informal' mentoring relationships, many more exist. Regardless of whether people have formal or informal relationships, we should all try to do what we can to make the most of the time we spend with people we respect.
Thanks for tips you added about finding mentors (SAP Mentors and other thought leaders in the community we want to learn from)!
Ahhhh.... Mentors at work. That's a hard one.
I have had the pleasure of mentoring many different people that have many different needs. I guess that could work anywhere. I've worked with people who have never even seen ABAP. (This is the core language at all the places I've worked at. I've worked with people who have never programmed a line of code and need help debugging. (Or writing something small.) I've worked with business users on SAP Query. I've of course worked with people who knew ABAP.
They all need different question answered and in different levels of detail. It's fun! So yes, sharing knowledge is a big deal for me. However, if you haven't done your research or want me to do the entire program from you. I lead you back to the questions I can answer and I don't do the entire program. Lucky for me - that's not the group of people I work with now. They dig in first. However, one of the things that always bother me - you don't take my advice. without a reason. Sometimes they find a better way of doing it. Total win! I learn something too. Sometimes, it's easier to code, but worse for the running of the program. <Sigh> Then I lead them gently back to show them why what they did would cause issues. It's OK to do that a few times. Your learning. I'm learning. But after a whole day of that, I get grumpy.
Now the switch. I have had many mentor's through my career. What I have learned is that the amazing mentor stands up to help you when you don't know you need the help. 🙂 An "old" boss when she wasn't my boss, told me to write an e-mail (that makes people a little mad) , save it, sleep on it, and then if you still want to send it the next day.
Another mentor has taught me that sarcasm doesn't come across very well during virtual meetings. People don't know you are joking. Again advise I got that I didn't know I needed.
OK - my questions to mentors. I try to do my homework first. The web and sap community are my friends. Then I think about phrasing and how to ask my question directly. If I ask with the wrong termination, it will take a big longer to get my answer. My head works a bit differently - and so do others - I may get on IM and want to ask the question. I'm in mid-thought. So no question if I'm am interrupting them and no thought about me being mid-way through the process - this references your point above. Tell the story. A last thought about my mentor relationship - don't wait too long to ask the question. I can spend a day working on something when a 10 second question would have solved my answer. Now this varies. If it is something I needed yesterday, I ask questions faster than that.
Now I've written a blog to chat with you! I would hope that a mentor is there for all of us. Maybe not formal, but think of that person you go to for answers.
Happy Friday - my time zone!