Mentoring is important!

Mentoring Juniors Makes Your Team More Efficient

I love to teach. It’s built in my DNA.

Recently, a big SAP upgrade project just went live successfully. Ask me who the was the Project Manager? It wasn’t me. It was my friend and colleague whom I mentored since we’ve worked together back in 2009. For the sake of this article, let’s give him a name – Borgy.

You see, this guy is one of the best SAP Technical persons I’ve known. He was my programmer (ABAPer) when I was the SAP Technical Lead of my project in 2008.

He’s earned my trust after he had delivered more than 50% of the required development work for the entire project and most of them were pretty complex.
During that project, I shared with him some best practice about work (quality check, strict documentations about technical design and unit testing, etc.). Most developers are good technically, but each development has to be documented clearly for colleagues who would take over for ongoing support.

In 2012, I again had the chance to put him under my wing. I volunteered to be a part of a global project and my role as a project manager would require someone to work closely with me. I shared with him all the knowledge I had gained during my training and while running the projects themselves.

In 2013, I was asked to complete the project for final two countries remaining. I saw this opportunity to volunteer Borgy to become a project manager.

I spoke with my boss and told him that I will be doing the one project, but for the other, I endorsed Borgy and vouched that he is ready. I volunteered to be his “assistant” so I could still guide him while he’s running the project.

Of course, we’ve completed both projects successfully.

In 2014, another opportunity opened up for Borgy. Since I left the company to move to another country, that project manager position for a major upgrade of the SAP system was left vacant.

I encouraged him to grab that position and I promised that even though I am already situated overseas, we could communicate everyday and I will guide him every step of the way until he could walk on his own. Since he’s a very good mentee, it didn’t take much effort from my side. He’s an eager learner and would prepare a lot of information before having our one-on-one consultation meetings.

The project environment he was in was so tough and he had to overcome a lot of obstacles but he managed to get through with flying colors.

You might ask, 5 years down the road after being his mentor and now that he’s as capable as me, am I worried?

No! I wasn’t worried that by teaching him, he’d compete with my position and maybe challenge me for other prospects.

Did you see the Karate Kid fight Mr. Miyagi? Did Jackie Chan beat his drunken master? No. These guys actually picked their masters up when they were down.

My point is — do not be afraid to teach someone thinking that you might be passed up for promotion in his favor.

Throughout the years, it has been proven that both companies and employees have benefited a lot by having a mentoring program.

Benefits of Mentoring

  • Reverse mentoring

    This is a good point to emphasize since most might not know that mentors could benefit too.
    Newer generations are more up-to-date with regards to latest business technologies and workplace trends. So when mentoring juniors, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from them at the same time.

  • Career Development and Better Engagement

    According to Right Management, opportunity for learning and development is a top driver of engagement, and is more important than leadership, culture and compensation.
    Mentoring gives the employees a sense of belonging and direction. It provides a platform for employees to express their career goals and objectives. This environment makes for happier and more engaged employees.

  • Higher Retention Rate

    More engaged and happier employees would tend to stay longer in the company. This also makes for a good platform to mentor potential leaders and develop a succession plan.

These are just a few of the myriad of benefits about mentoring. There are a  few case studies I’ve read about how successful the mentoring program is for Deloitte, Sun Microsystems, Daimler, and Deutsche Bank. Time and time again, this program has proven to have worked.

I have had my first hand experience about the success of mentoring. I’d love to hear other success stories from you, as a mentor or even a mentee. Hit me up with comments below.

UPDATE: As of 1st of February 2015, Borgy has recently been promoted to Team Lead of the SAP Technical Team, my previous team.

Image credit goes to Mario Nacuso on FLICKR.

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