While drinking my morning coffee and preparing this post, I quickly identified, without hesitation, the different ways mentorship has supported me to be the person I am today. If I could describe it using one word, it would be to unlock.
In 2016, I had the fortune to be at Mountain View, part of the Google Acceleration Program, which supports startups from different industries and countries. These were two very intensive weeks but one of the most significant moments in my life, one that shook my world and made me realize that everything is possible, especially if you have someone in your corner, someone to encourage you.
Even though I had a great team back then, receiving feedback from others besides your coworkers enriches your perspectives. It was great every time someone validated an idea you had, and it was shocking but enlightening to hear they had already tried it and even discussed the positive and negative outcomes.
After the Bootcamp, we achieved amazing things as a team and took advantage of that momentum. It helped us impact a team of ~50 persons plus our customers. It was great! How did I personally seize this opportunity? I said yes when the Acceleration Program asked us to share our stories with the upcoming startup generations.
Today, after almost eight years, I’m still part of the group of mentors for Google Startup LATAM (formerly, Google Acceleration Program), where startups from different parts of Latin America schedule time with me to discuss topics such as Product Development, People Management, Technology, and so on.
According to Forbes, women faced more significant challenges during the pandemic, such as keeping working hours while household and childcare responsibilities increased. Therefore, the value of mentorship grew even more, and companies implemented Mentorship Programs where Senior executives (men and women) supported Junior employees. The result? Empowered women who felt satisfied with their work.
As Forbes reported, “Indeed, 25 percent of employees who participated in a mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared to only 5 percent of the workers who did not participate.”*
Based on my personal experience and what the industry underlines – numbers speak louder than words 🙂 –, I encourage you to consider mentorship as a powerful tool to accelerate your career growth.
So, here is what I believe to be the three most important topics when looking at receiving mentoring:
The mentor connection
- After identifying the areas you want to work on, it’s time to seek the person to support your journey. In my experience, I have found great mentors in my personal and my professional networks (yes, Elpha is one option!). Identify your role model; perhaps you connected once in a meetup, conference, or a previous job. Also, some platforms, such as Clarity or GrowthMentor, offer paid expert connections
- Determine your availability. You will be accountable for your success as a mentee, so time management is of the essence!
- Don’t hesitate to send the request
- Share your expectations
- Agree on the mentorship frequency. We must be mindful and grateful for the time mentors give us
- As a mentee, you must make the most out of this mentorship (avoid distractions during the sessions, find a quiet room, ensure internet connectivity, turn on your camera)
- If, at any time, you think it's a good moment to end the mentorship, let your mentor know so that you can define a last phase together
Holding a successful 1:1 session
- Always set an agenda and, if possible, share it with your mentor beforehand
- Keep shared notes. It can be a structured Google Docs or your preferred tool
- Consider time for wrapping up to summarize the session, learnings, and action items
- If one day, you can not attend the meeting, let your mentor know with ample time about this conflict
Mastering Feedback: request, give and act
- I encourage you to always request feedback both from your mentor and from the audience who can share comments about your progress toward the goals you are working on with your mentor
- Define the frequency. Depending on your growth path, consider feedback loops to take the pulse of your progress
- Define the way you want to receive feedback-in writing, through a survey, email, or by setting a 1:1
- If you are in the position of giving feedback to your mentor or colleagues based on your work, this might be challenging. Therefore, try to be objective and share examples and suggestions
- Receiving feedback can be even more difficult; be ready and thankful for this
- What should I do with the feedback I get? Well, it can be a point on the agenda with your mentor, but listing the actionable items you encountered from each feedback loop is a must
If you keep a growth mindset by considering these three points, you can identify when and what to apply depending on the moment of your career, objectives, and mentor. I’m sure you will increase the impact on your professional life and – however indirectly – those of others. Always focus on finding different ways of giving back to others. How? Look for local communities or apply to global programs at your workplace. Recently, in my organization, we held a Speed Mentoring initiative, which has had very positive results across our Women in Tech Program.
So, are you ready to take the next step to unlock your potential?
*Forbes, Women Need Mentors Now More Than Ever