It’s coming up on that time of year when I assess my activities as an employee. By the time a year has passed, I find that I must redefine my job description. Needs have come up that have required me to step beyond what I was originally hired to do, for example. And I have a bigger vision of what I could be doing to be a more effective member of my team.
My mentor suggested going through the following steps:
- Write down everything you currently do – how do you spend your time at work?
- List all the elements of your job description – the one that someone would find in your personnel file.
- What else would you like to do? List things that are absent from both lists that you want to do as part of your job that you currently don’t do and aren’t in your job description.
- Determine the percentage of time you spend on each current activity. Write these values next to each item in your first list.
- Determine the percentage of time you want to spend on each item on all three lists.
What have you learned from this exercise? How different are your actual activities from your job description? How different is your vision of your job from what you actually do?
My mentor shared the article “Career Coach: What are you doing to keep learning?” This article basically talks about the importance of continuous learning – it doesn’t stop with getting a degree. The article lists benefits to those who make learning an ongoing priority in their lives:
- Being able to keep current with trends and developments in an industry.
- Building a knowledge base to identify problems and generate solutions.
- Being more resilient to market changes and fluctuations (i.e., being more marketable, especially during recessions).
- Stimulating the mind to keep inspired and excited.
- Enhancing self-confidence about a topic or issue.
I have experienced all of these benefits. I would add that continuous learning also helps us develop new ways of thinking about problems and solutions. Learning more in subjects outside our field of expertise helps us relate to and communicate with others more effectively and gives us not only a knowledge base, but new mindsets for different approaches to problems and ideas.
I have been working on my professional and personal growth for some time. It is important to me that I constantly strive to do better and be better. I found someone who is very talented at coaching who has agreed to be my coach/mentor. We meet every two weeks. I realized that I’ve read a lot about coaching and mentoring – many people blog about coaching as a subject, and how to coach, but I don’t think there are many out there documenting what it is like to be coached. So this blog is an experiment in documenting my experiences in being coached. I hope it serves to help others who are looking to be guided in their professional and personal development, and I also hope it serves coaches to see the impact and influence coaching has on the coached.
I have had to think hard about whether I should call this coaching or mentoring because they are different. Coaching is focused on performance in many ways, and is specific in guiding someone toward success in their field. Mentoring is focused on life path, which may go beyond the specific career field. So I call this blog ‘Being Mentored’ and will call it mentoring, especially since I feel that my mentor is guiding me in more than my professional development, even though much of the focus is coaching within the professional context. I hope he’s ok with the name… yikes! In this blog, however, I will still use both words. In the first few entries I probably won’t use them correctly, but it will be refined as I move along.
In our first meeting my mentor asked that I promise to mentor in the same way I have been mentored; to be mindful of my experience so I can do the same for someone else. We also discussed why it is that I want to be mentored. He guided me to the conclusion that I need to have a vision for myself: not what I want to do better, but WHO I want to be. What does that vision look like? What does this person look like, act like?