Demystifying Mentoring

I just found the article “Demystifing Mentring” from Amy Gallo on the Harvard Business Review. She points out the following “myths” about mentoring and follows up with some useful do’s and don’ts. Here’s my thoughts on her Myths.

Myth #1: You have to find one perfect mentor

I agree, this one’s a myth! You will find that you many have different mentors as you progress through your career, or you many have one mentor who helps you with some aspect of your development and a different mentor for another aspect. For example, you might have one person who works with you advise you on how to navigate the personalities you work with. You might want to talk to someone outside your organization for advice about your next career move.

Myth #2: Mentoring is a formal long-term relationship

I have mixed feelings about this one. I agree that it doesn’t have to be formal (and I prefer both mentors and apprentice relationships to be casual and friendly) but I do feel that my most significant relationships have been over a long term. If your mentor does not know you well, they’re just providing advice. This isn’t a bad thing, I just see mentorship as going deeper.

Myth #3: Mentoring is for junior people

Yep, I agree it’s a myth.  I seek out mentors in areas where I need to grow, and I am happy to help people who are either older or more experienced than I am in areas where i have something to offer them.

Myth #4: Mentoring is something more experienced people do out of the goodness of their hearts

Again, this one is mixed. I am partly motivated to provide help to people because I believe in the value of Interaction Design and I want to see more people have success in their own practice. That’s a somewhat altruistic motivation. At the same time, my experience has been that I get as much as I give when I mentor people. It’s a huge source of satisfaction for me when someone acquires a new skill they wanted to gain, or when they land that dream job that they felt was out of reach. Pure gold!

And, what do you think?