Have a mentor, be a mentor

 The word "Mentor" actually comes from Greek literature - it's a character from "The Odyssey". He advised Odysseus and Telemachus, and the word seems to derive from a term meaning "intent, purpose, spirit, passion". We often think of a mentor in the business sense - but some folks I've talked with aren't sure what a mentor is or what they do. Most think it's someone that tells you what to do to get ahead in your career.

Part of that is true - a mentor can indeed help your career. But rather than telling you what to do, they are actually more effective when they help you discover what to do. They are a guide - someone who has an outside view of your career, isn't your boss, and in the best of cases has been down the path you want to go. There is a formal process to being a mentor, and in fact there are concrete steps you have to take to be mentored. It's a partnership, with a beginning and an end. I'm a mentor for a couple of folks, one of whom works at Microsoft. I've also got a mentor, and have had them in the past as well starting at my days working at the NASA facility in Florida. That was my introduction to the process as a young man, and it helped my professional career immensely.

On January 8th 2014 in Redmond Washington I'll be giving a presentation on how to get and work with a mentor, and how and why to become one yourself. You're welcomed to attend, and I'll probably give this session again in locations around the world - we've opened this meeting up to anyone who wants to come, and you can find the details on that here: http://pnwsql.sqlpass.org/

There's homework (of course there is, I'm a college teacher after all) in the form of some reading list and sites you can visit. Here are some of the sources I used for this session:


(this list is partially drawn from an internal Microsoft site for our formal mentoring process that I belong to):

  • Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others,3rd Edition by James Flaherty
  • 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees: A Manager's Guide to Addressing Performance, Conduct, and Discipline Challenges
    by  Paul FALCONE
  • The Truth About Personal Performance (Collection) by James O'Rourke
  • 5 Business Skills Every Professional Must Master (Collection) by Terry J. Fadem
  • Essential Rules from Richard Templar (Collection) by Richard Templar
  • The New Mentors and Protégés: How to Succeed with the New Mentoring Partnerships by Linda Phillips-Jones (2001 update)
  • The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You by Lois Zachary (2009)
  • Coaching, Counseling and Mentoring: How to Choose and Use the Right Technique to Boost Employee Performance by Florence
    Stone (2007)
  • Teach What You Know: A Practical Leader's Guide to Knowledge Transfer Using Peer Mentoring by Steve Trautman (2007)
  • Monday Morning Mentoring: Ten Lessons to Guide You up the Ladder by David Cottrell (2006)
  • Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Protégés Get the Most Out of Their Relationships by Ellen Ensher and Susan
    Murphy (2005)
  • Mentoring 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by John Maxwell (2008)
  • The Elements of Mentoring by W. Brad Johnson (2008)
  • The Art of Mentoring: Lead, Follow and Get Out of the Way by Shirley Peddy (2001)
  • Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning by Chip R. Bell (2002)