The Value and Impact of Agile Mentors

Part 2 of Luciana's agile story
A graphic for the My Agile Story series

In Part 1 of Lucy’s story, we learned that she founded her own agile consulting business and is on her way to becoming a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). She’s been guided and supported along the way by a mentor who helps her see opportunities for growth. Lucy chose her mentor because she was inspired by who she was and the goals she had achieved.

How Lucy Found a Mentor

Among many, many other accomplishments, Lucy is a Certified Team Coach® (CTC®). Much earlier in her career, she had completed the Certified ScrumMaster® course and knew she wanted to take more scrum courses. She met her future mentor at this step in her journey.

When searching for courses, she came across a trainer who she remembered from a Scrum Alliance Global Scrum Gathering™. She emailed the trainer explaining, “I want to be a trainer. I really love training – would you consider being my mentor?” After discussing each other’s expectations of mentorship, and meeting each other again in person at an Advanced Certified ScrumMaster course, they decided to move forward.

“As a mentor, she has told me what I need to do to get where I want to get, but at the same time, she’s also given me constructive feedback on the things that I need to work on. I don’t feel that I’d be where I am right now, ready to apply to become a CST, if it wasn’t for her.”

Mentors May Provide Support in Unexpected Ways

Lucy’s application to become a Certified Team Coach was deferred the first time she applied. She felt discouraged. At first, she was hesitant to view the feedback: “I was afraid it was going to make me feel really horrible and I wasn’t going to want to be a CTC anymore.” Lucy says she can be highly critical of herself.

Her mentor suggested opening the feedback together. “We went into my application together. She read through the feedback and affirmed that it wasn’t something horrible; it was something that I was going to be able to do.”

Her mentor guided her through what the feedback meant and helped her see how she could tackle each piece to improve her CTC application.

“If she weren’t there, I don’t know that I would have gotten through it.”

How You Can Find a Mentor

When looking for a potential mentor, consider people who are in the position or place you’re reaching for. “A mentor should be somebody who is where you want to be,” Lucy said. 

For example, if you’re interested in becoming a CST, “who is a CST you have a relationship with, or have taken classes with, that you truly admire? Have the courage – one of our values in scrum – to reach out to them.” 

Even if you’re looking for a mentor outside of scrum, Lucy encourages looking for someone who is doing something similar to what you want to do. “The mentor is somebody who should be where you want to be in your life at some point. It’s not just somebody who’s higher than you, or has more experience than you – it has to be somebody that has the type of experience you want to have at a certain point in your life.”

“My advice is don’t be afraid to reach out because the worst thing that can happen is they’ll say, ‘I don’t have time,’ or ‘I’m not available for mentoring right now.’” And you can always look for someone else.

She also encourages future mentees to reach out to people they’ve met before or know they have a connection with: trainers whose style and technique you admire, or someone you’ve met at a Global Scrum Gathering or a meetup.

Signs You’ve Found the Right Agile Mentor

Lucy suggests trusting your instincts when you’re trying to decide if you’ve found the right person. “For me, it’s chemistry. Just like any other relationship. It has to be somebody that you trust, that you’d be able to talk about anything with. Your gut is going to tell you whether it’s the right person or not.”

“Mentorship is very important. Don’t try to do it all on your own,” she said. “If there is somebody that is where you want to be, ask them to be your mentor so that they can help you every step of the way. Because it’s much easier and much faster if you have somebody going through it with you.”

Mentorship on the Path Ahead

Lucy knows her mentor will continue to be an important part of her life, and she hopes to be able to do the same for other aspiring CSTs, CECs, and CTCs. “When it comes to being a mentor, I’d love to do that for somebody. I know how much it’s helped me and I want to be able to help somebody else the same way.” 

She currently mentors several scrum masters and enjoys helping to answer their questions and provide advice. “I want to see people succeed and I think that being a mentor for somebody else is how you can do that.”

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