Advice and processes for a fruitful working partnership
July 11, 2021
•Read this piece on Medium
Mentorships are mutually beneficial relationships where both individuals derive value, growth, and fulfillment. Mentors guide newcomers through a company, teach new skills to more junior designers, and reinforce the knowledge by sharing expertise on various subject matters. In return, mentees grow out of the experience more confident in their abilities, more comfortable with their given role, and ultimately see notable progression in their career.
As a first-time product design mentor, I learned immensely and wanted to share helpful tips I’ve collected from my experience:
Weekly 1:1 meetings are great environments to discuss any agenda topic with your mentee. In the first introductory 1:1 meeting, it’s best to get to know each other first. You can also use the time to define what their short-term and long-term career goals are, what they want to grow in, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and determine suitable action items.
With following 1:1 meetings, I’ve let my mentee drive the agenda to help sculpt the time for their own needs. If there’s no immediate topics, it can be helpful to have them denote what their updates are from the prior week, what they require additional guidance on, and what deadlines to be aware of that week. To track progress, I’ve kept these notes in a private document with a blank template for each subsequent week.
For first-time mentors, having a community with other mentors to ask and share effective processes made my experience much more comfortable. The Slack channel served as a helpful way to align all mentors and to clear up any open questions that existed among any of us.
It’s also a great place to share helpful training material, broadcast internal workshops, and align on weekly goals. Overall, it’s a safe space to discuss any helpful methods or obstacles that others have been experiencing throughout their mentorship experiences.
My team created a dedicated onboarding document for all new design hires who join our smaller product teams. It includes our team structure, links to former projects, and case studies of conducted research studies.
I scheduled an hour-long block during my mentee’s first week to walk her through each section and answer any remaining open questions she had. Overall, it helped her understand our organization structure, meeting structure and etiquette, and typical design process.
A great way for new hires to feel more fully transitioned to their teams is to suggest various people around the company for them to grab lunch or coffee with. Forming early relationships between mentees and immediate stakeholders and collaborators creates a great working relationship between everyone from the start. Also, it fosters a great culture where everyone (new and old) can feel more connected to each other on a more personal level.
Walking through pieces of former projects has been an effective way for me to fully aid my mentee throughout stages of our company’s design process. From design briefs and research scripts to Figma files and InVision prototypes, any and all resources that an intern can use to fully envision what a deliverable should emulate is incredibly useful.
At MongoDB, mentors were lucky to have been given a stipend to organize events within the mentorship program. I was lucky enough to be in the same city as my mentee for us to meet over lunch and have casual conversations about our hobbies, favorite restaurants, and bucket-list travel destinations. I wanted to reassure my intern that I’d happily continue being her mentor outside of the MongoDB experience and that she could always reach out to me if she ever needed any guidance.
As a recap, here are the tips once again:
Hope these tips help you foster a meaningful successful mentorship experience! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.