Building Confidence to Mentor

I remember when I was first expected to mentor someone. I remember not feeling confident that I could do it, that I didn’t have enough experience to be a good mentor and not knowing where to start.

Lately, I’m seeing more and more testers in the same situation. This time, I’m on the outside looking in at people I know would be excellent mentors but they don’t feel confident that they would be.

How do you build confidence in your abilities? Conversely, how can we help build others up to be the excellent mentors that we see they could be?

I think the important thing to remember with mentoring, is that it’s not about you the mentor and what you think or feel. It’s about the person who you’re mentoring. They have a problem which you could help with, perhaps not, but why wouldn’t you even try?

You have to accept that you’re not confident and put your own feelings aside for now and focus on what your mentee is feeling. The goal is not to help solve their problem or help them get better, the role of the mentor is to just be there for someone to support them as they work through a problem, or to suggest other people to talk to or ideas to try. Often just learning that they’re not alone is enough. This will help build their confidence. It may help build your confidence too, but who cares, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Stop making mentoring about you! :slight_smile:

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I think the worst thing you could do as a mentor is to give an improper advice or training and ruin someones mental state, job, relationship with other people, career.
Probably that’s why the fear. I would fear some mentor that doesn’t have any fear to mess up someone…

I like mentors that are trying to guide you with constant questions about the context, without actually telling you the answer but let you find the answer. Similar to the psychologist.

I like the idea of Testing seen as a Social Science, besides the other branches…
This can be used to understand how a mentoring model would have to be created out of the context of a person: http://www.kaner.com/pdfs/KanerSocialScienceSTEP.pdf

I guess if there’s a difference between formal and informal mentoring, as in being an official job to train someone in their career for years, or just being available to help someone with suggestions and advice when needed?

I’d say the first one is more of a trainer or instructor than a mentor though, and would likely need formal training and mentoring themselves.

You have to remember that you’re not mentoring people to tell them what to do. You’re mentoring them so they can make their own sound decisions, even if the outcome is different to what you would have done.

To me, mentoring people is about giving others the confidence to make their own decisions. Giving them the confidence to make mistakes and then for them to make the adjustments to mitigate making those mistakes again.

To mentor people, you have to walk the talk. You have to be confident in your day to day abilities. For a mentor, you are reliving to the people you mentor your decision making processes. That in turn makes them confident to talk about their experiences and mentor the next person and so on.

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