Mentoring

MY MENTORS

By Marija Vavpotič

Up until now I had: 3 mentors, one quarter of a coach and 1 master teacher. Of course I had mentors at the University but I don’t count them into this group and I won’t mention them here.

I got my first mentor when I joined the Toastmasters Ljubljana club. I believe it was on my second meeting I discovered I get to pick a mentor. I was so excited. I looked around the members. I picked one that I met on the very first TM meeting. At that meeting there weren’t many members. The one I’ve picked had many roles and he was completely easy with them, he was mastering them all. Of course I wanted him. I was a bit afraid he will be too busy to take me as his protégé. But he said Yes. 

I picked up the right person, because he got green checks for everything: he proved to be very experienced and knowledgeable, positive and supportive, respectful, caring, committed and dependable. He explained everything to me.  On the above photo is he greeting me when coming to the stage. He was my official evaluator for my first speech at TM and for some speeches later. But also he sent me his short evaluation for every speech I had even when he was not my official evaluator. I really appreciated this. Actually I valued his feedback the most. I remembered very well when he was evaluating my 10th project in Competent Communicator manual and he said “I shall give you a classic sandwich technique, with a lot of ham”. That meant he has quite a lot to say about things that needed an improvement. I knew I can rely on him, but my progress depended upon me. But it helped me a lot because he believed in me. 

I got my second and third mentor together with the job I started two years ago. I work at Bankart. We are doing quite special work you can’t actually learn it elsewhere in Slovenia. That’s why the company has established and well-implemented mentorship program. Every new employee gets 1 or 2 mentors for six months. I got 2. I was really lucky, because I got the best mentors. I could go to them anytime, both of them answered any of my questions (and I had lots of them) even thought I knew they had a lot of work to do besides mentoring me. But, practically they always took the time and explain to me things over and over again. At the end of the mentorship program we have a formal exam with the head of our department and both of them truly wanted me to pass this exam, they gave me a lot of support. I always think fond of them, even now when they are not my formal mentors any more. I hoped to be one day such a good mentor myself for a new employee. I would say it would help every new employee in every company to have an official mentor, so I encourage you to bring mentoring to your company. It pays off.

Now, let’s take a look at one quarter of a coach and you’ll understand why I say one quarter. Few months ago I had a specific issue I wanted to solve and at the same time one of my colleague started to practise coaching. She was willing to do coaching sessions with me for free, so things looked like a good match. But, during the coaching process I found out that I don’t respond well to a coach. I noticed I “didn’t have time” when we should meet for another meeting, I avoided answering to her questions directly, I rather started to talk about other things and so on and so forth. Responsibility was totally on my side. I wasn’t ready to answer her questions and because we knew each other personally I had an aversion to share things with her. I guess I need a coach who is a stranger to me and I guess I need to pay for a coach to take it seriously. 🙂 

For the end I will say few words about my master teacher. It’s funny I discovered this only when I was preparing for this speech* – I had the best mentor all along the way – my life itself is the master teacher to me. I just need to listen more carefully to the messages it is whispering to me all the time. 

I would say it would help every new employee in every company to have an official mentor, so I encourage you to bring mentoring to your company. It pays off.

* This blog is a transcript from my speech for my project in Pathways Presentation Mastery  – Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring

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