Business Analyst Mentoring…A Career Investment

Mentoring has been gaining notice and popularity in recent years again as individuals and organizations recognize the value and benefits from this important experience. According to Merriam-Webster, the basic definition of a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. A similar concept very popular is coaching. Using Merriam-Webster again to provide additional clarity, coaching is a bit different, though following similar lines of instruction. A coach is a private teacher who gives someone lessons in a particular subject. I prefer to call myself a mentor and conduct myself and sessions accordingly. In my own experiences, mentoring provides a more personable approach to helping the mentee.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

If you feel that you would benefit from having a mentor in business analysis, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation!

If you would like to know more about mentoring, keep reading!

What is a Mentoring Relationship?

Let's look at how mentoring works and what a mentee should expect. In general, the mentoring relationship is a one-on-one collaboration in which the two parties work together to provide guidance and direction for career (in this case)  progression. It starts with relationship building and a fairly rapid determination by both parties on whether the relationship is a good fit, based strictly on intuitive emotion of the first interactions. This is especially important, because in the closeness that is required by the mentor and mentee is essential to a good foundation of a working relationship. It's important to note as part of the relationship, there is often much emotion and discussion that can breach personal boundaries. It is a SAFE place to learn, discuss, fail and succeed for the mentee. To get to the end value that mentoring provides, the mentor and mentee have to pass through some often difficult topics...and that can ONLY occur with trust established. Once established enough, the actual work can begin.

Who Does What and What Actually Happens?

In mentoring, the focus is on the mentee's needs and it is the mentee who is accountable for setting the agenda and the progress. The mentor (that's me), on the other hand, is responsible for providing the guidance to the mentee based on those agenda items and needs. While there is a general goal in mind, there are often more immediate and related needs that must get addressed along the way. I liken it to a road trip in a car, whereby the destination is in mind but the car must have attention along the way to reach that destination. The Goal and the related objectives are defined by the mentee and that provides that basis to start plying through the obstacles that the mentee is struggling with. Each discussion will touch on mentee-problem subjects or learning areas that I work to provide example illustration, suggestive guidance and best practices to help achieve the objective. As each objective is completed, a phase of the total journey ends and a new one starts, typically.

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

Peter F. Drucker

Tangible Tasks

There is only so much that can be said or benefit produced in a one-hour session, so it really serves as foundation of thought and mindfulness for the mentee to use and work with during the time BETWEEN sessions. It is there that the real learning occurs, as the mentee is able to think and apply the lessons in real life. To make the sessions valuable, I will provide reflection on the session content to tie up the session and relate it to homework. Also, it is common for me to assign homework (reading, exercise, task or simply thinking through an issue) that serves to strengthen what the sessions objective and discussion covered. The simple session-homework-session model works to establish a cycle of learning that builds upon itself over time.I require commitment to personal accountability in order to work with someone. By serving as a mentor, I am committed to help someone (maybe you!) with successes, but that person must be committed and mentally invested in his or her own successful outcome. This means:

  • The mentee is honest with himself or herself and honest with me in discussion
  • The mentee is organized, set the agenda and provides that agenda to me at least 24 hours in advance of each session
  • The mentee shows up on time or provides 12-24 hours notice
  • The mentee executes the homework and/or takes the assignment to the next level with additional effort
  • The mentee is not afraid to fail (remember this is a safe place to do so)

Value. No value, No point.

Mentoring is a passion for me, but if I am not providing value to a mentee, then there is no point in continuing. Therefore, I make it a point to specifically ask my mentees if I am doing so. Value can take different forms and may actually diminish over time even in a great mentoring relationship as the mentee matures and needs less direction. We will work together to ensure that I give great value at all times! You should arrive at your destination after some time with more confidence, better technique, understanding of best practices, clarity in approach and examples of what things not to do (because I've already done those and will teach you to avoid them).

Take a look here to learn about WHY mentoring makes good sense for your financial investment

Scope of Mentoring

My focus is mentoring business analysis core skills in relation to established technique in the industry. My secondary focus is to provide insight into how to take skills are understand both immediate value so that they can be used, but also recognition of how to apply those skills and techniques to larger, enterprise models related to business architecture and enterprise analysis. These topics almost ALWAYS overlap with soft-skill, communication, collaboration and other issues. I do NOT provide mentoring on methodologies (waterfall, agile, or other) though the topics might come up as part of general discussion. I do NOT provide services to review work products (or create them for you)...and yes I have been asked.One final word on mentoring....It's hard. Sometimes very hard. As your (potential) mentor, I will give you honest and sometimes uncomfortable feedback. I will push you into uncomfortable territory. I will expect more from you than you may realize you can give. I consider myself your trusted partner in personal success.

Mentoring Plan

I have three models to choose from.

Model 1: Try Before You Buy

As of April 2016, DougGtheBA has provided over $5000 in free services to the BA community using this program. Subscribe to the site to get notified of new specials in the future!

Model 2: Pay for Service

I charge $100 per hour and invoice sessions individually. The frequency is set by the mentee, though I recommend once or twice per month unless there are pressing/crisis issues that need more attention.

Model 3: Pro Bono Model

THERE ARE CURRENTLY ZERO PRO BONO SLOTS AVAILABLE. Subscribe to get notified of a new slot availability.

I keep three (3) mentoring session slots open at no charge to ensure I give back to the community.  I reserve these for those that most want the help but are able to demonstrate that the financial commitment is an undue burden. I'm not going to audit your checkbook; it's an honor system. I respectfully ask that this option ONLY be requested under these circumstances. I will inform you, the requester, if there is an available slot or add your name to a wait list until a slot becomes available. 

The frequency is set by the mentee, though I recommend once per month unless there are pressing/crisis issues that need more attention.

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