Short post today but I wanted to briefly touch on the topic of mentors in the workplace. I have been thinking back over my work history lately and the one theme that I kept coming back to was being so fortunate to have such an inspirational mentor early in my career.
My mentor and first Project Manager wore many hats while she led our team through a complex and multiphase project, and she handled all her responsibilities with the grace under fire exhibited by the best Project Managers. She also bolstered our team through her own work ethic and by always displaying positive team leading and team-building skills. In my experience since that time, the latter is very hard to come by.
Like all really good PMs she was skillfully adept at knowing the strengths of each team player and was constantly a support and morale booster for all. It was extremely hard work for everyone and a lengthy commitment, but due to her leadership the project was immensely enjoyable and fun. Rare indeed. Her mentoring to all team members is the one thing I still attribute in my career that has served me very well.
She had amazing leadership abilities and served those who worked with, and for her, with a grace I have rarely seen since. To this day, she still is the best manager and mentor I have ever had the pleasure of working for in my professional career and I strive daily in my current position to be able to continue to live up to the standards that she set and the potential she saw in me. Actually, I directly credit my interest in pursuing project management as my career advanced due to my experience with her.
Mentoring means that you have to be a great leader of people and an outstanding judge of character. It also means that you don’t hesitate to reward the faithful and hardworking employee. It means you have special gifts and are willing to share and teach others how to use their own skills. You also have to know how to analyze a problem and your team and approach each with a logical and practical approach. It means leading by example and providing positive feedback when you can. It also means being open and able to learn from your mentee. Often they posses direct skills that you may have a working knowledge of, but are not specialized in.
Again, I was so fortunate to have an outstanding mentor so early in my career, and am fortunate enough to still be able to turn to her for advice and opinions today. One of my goals in the next few years would be to be able to supply that kind of depth in a mentoring relationship to others on my team. PMI encourages mentor/mentee relationships as well. Be sure to check out your local PMI chapter for opportunities to be a mentor to an aspiring candidate.