Mentor Everywhere was created by a few folks at Automattic. Read more about Mentor Everywhere here. At Automattic, a fully-distributed company with no offices, we believe strongly in the power of remote working and how, no matter where you are in the world, you can be an equal participant in the work we do.
We’d like to share some tools and resources to help the Mentor Everywhere participants to facilitate their interactions, collaborate remotely, and get the most out of the mentoring program. Have a resource to suggest? Get in touch.
Collaborating and Communicating while Remote
Some Tools and Software:
- Instant messaging, with video: Zoom.us, Skype, and Google Hangouts.
- For finding a time for a meeting or chat across timezones: WhenIsGood, WorldClockMeetingPlanner, and WorldTimeBuddy.
- Sharing notes, goals, and documentation: Google Drive, Dropbox, Simplenote, and CloudUp.
- Keeping a blog, i.e. through WordPress.com, can be a great way to track progress and self-reflection for mentees.
- Be on time
- Provide at least 24 hours notice if you must change your meeting time with your mentor or mentee
- Overcommunicate – never assume! If something isn’t working the way you want it to, say so.
Resources for Mentees
A gentle reminder, but your mentors are not your life or career coaches. Please be respectful of their time! It’s one of the most valuable resources they’re sharing with you, and you’ll be able to appreciate their experiences and perspectives. As the mentee, you’re going to be expected to do the bulk of the ‘work’ and come prepared, on time, and ready for your mentoring sessions.
- Learn how to sponsor and not just mentor.
- Follow through on advice. Mentors are volunteers who are excited to share their experiences with those who are looking to improve and develop their careers. As you develop goals and strategies with your mentor, follow through on the tasks and advice they give you. You get what you give 🙂
- Ask good questions. When chatting with your mentor, come prepared with an agenda to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time together. Think back to what you’ve worked on in the time from your last check-in and now. What’s worked and what hasn’t? Did you learn anything new? Do you have any situations or dilemmas that you could use an outside perspective on? Bring those questions to your mentor.
- Don’t be afraid to disagree. The mentor/mentee relationship is a two-way street. If your mentor gives you advice that you don’t agree with, don’t follow along because you think you should. Open a dialogue. Express your thoughts, communicate, and use any available opportunities to build rapport and learn from one another.
- Remain open. By its nature, the mentor/mentee relationship is designed to help you step outside of your comfort zone. The more you step outside of what feels familiar, the more opportunity for discomfort arises. Do your best to embrace that feeling of discomfort and challenge yourself, using your mentor as a resource for how to deal with that fear. Remember that all success comes after tons of perceived failure.
- Keep a journal. Journaling is a powerful and effective tool to help you organize your thoughts, glean important lessons from your interactions with your mentor, and reflect on what you’ve learned (or still need to learn). Although it requires discipline to maintain a journal, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort you’ll invest in it. A journal can be a physical notebook, or an online blog.
- Read up! Check out related blogs, websites, articles, and books on how to make the most of your mentorship. To start, you can check out Six Habits of Highly Effective Mentees, How to Be the Mentee a Mentor Would Die For, and How to Be A Good Mentee.
Resources for Mentors
- Set expectations. As a mentor, it’s important to provide stability and accountability to your mentee. In the beginning of your mentor/mentee relationship, discuss goals, timeline, and scheduling so that you can set consistent dates, times, and expectations for your mentee to follow-up on any tasks or advice you’ve given.
- Be open about your own career trajectory. Sharing our failures is much harder than sharing our successes, but that’s where the best lessons reside. As you build rapport with your mentee, be open and honest about your own career development. What do you wish you had known when you first started? What was your biggest mistake or the biggest lesson you learned?
- Ask for feedback. Mentorship is a two-way street. Just as you provide perspective and advice to your mentee, it’s important to make sure the format and structure of your mentorship has been helpful for them as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your mentee for feedback on how things are going so that you can adjust along the way if anything needs to be tweaked.
- Keep a journal. Journals are essential tools for both mentors and mentees alike! Make it a regular habit to write your thoughts and experiences as a mentor, what lessons you’re learning as you guide your mentee, what challenges you’re facing together, etc. Mentorship is a learning experience for both mentors and mentees, and a journal is a great way to explore and expand on the many lessons you learn as you progress in the relationship.
- Develop your mentorship skills. Just like developing your own career skills takes time and effort, so does the ability to share and impart those skills with others. Take time to learn how to be a good mentor through the plethora of resources available online. TED Talks even has a whole playlist of videos on how to be a good mentor.
image by Death to the Stock Photo.