Mentoring: informal, on the fly

In the run up to NLS8 and prompted by this post by @libsmatter a few weeks ago,here’s my two cents worth about mentoring.

I haven’t been on either side of a formal mentoring situation and I’m not sure that setup is for me. It is definitely the informal mentors, the corridor conversations, the chance encounters in the morning tea line at a conference (listen up NLS8 delegates!) that have had a profound impact on my professional development over the years. I draw different bits and pieces from each of these encounters, each of these mentors and it is these bits and pieces that help me in the different situations I find myself in at work.

I have a few post it notes around my desk, to remind myself to ask “what would X do” in this situation? If I’m problem solving, it might be WWKD as I try to channel the things I’ve learned from @katecbyrne about taking apart a question. Before I start writing or editing any sort of report or briefing paper, I scrawl WWMD on the top of the page – bringing to mind a former manager who taught me a lot about concise business writing. WWPD takes me back to conversations in another manager’s office about different ways to work with people and when I need to set up a new system or process, I bring what I know from working with @alysondalby by invoking – you guessed it, WWAD. My current manager is teaching me a lot about reflection and ways to put more considered thinking into my work day. This is becoming WWRD. It’s funny that I don’t really think of myself as a visual person, but these physical reminders of my mentors are a critical part of my daily work.

I’m looking forward to continuing this at NLS8 this weekend, paying some of this informal mentoring forward with our keynote speech, but also cherishing the informal moments over lunch, in the coffee queue, hanging out in the breakout space. It’s all about weaving those threads of conversation and relationship that help build capacity both ways. Bring it on!