A mentoring experience

Guest writer: Maryam Khan

My personal journey into the world of mentoring was not an active choice. It was posed to me by a team member to facilitate a more even work load by taking the pressure off me.

She suggested that I should mentor the rest of the team so to build up the skill sets needed to run as an autonomous team. Although I had been unofficially coaching my team from the time we started together in late 2015, the idea of mentoring as an official and active process had never actually crossed my mind.

When the suggestion was first posed, I have to admit I felt humbled, but also a little uncomfortable. The opportunity required that I consider my skill sets and figure out how to up skill my team without being overly prescriptive. Mentoring can take on many forms and I was left to work out which particular method to apply in this situation. I decided to start the mentoring process by identifying problem situations where I could best offer my experience. I selected key aspects of our monthly deliverables to define the problem at hand and offer ways of resolving them. All the while, making sure I wasn’t being too prescriptive. This way team members could learn from my experience but also apply their own ideas to the situation.

In my professional life, I have coached and developed team members but that (again) was not done in a formal fashion. It was more about coming together to collaborate and pick apart the problem at hand. I have benefitted the most from mentors who give me a framework to troubleshoot my own problems and provide specific and targeted advice for a situation. I have applied similar methods in my mentoring approach.

The opportunity to mentor, as well as being mentored, has been a safe way to identify my own skill set. I’ve made a number of mistakes in my journey, both while being mentored and while mentoring others. The ability to share these mistakes and learn from them has improved my relationships immensely.

I now feel more confident in tackling difficult situations. I also feel proud to witness the development of my team personally and professionally. It’s empowering beyond words.

Maryam Khan
Business Analyst, BaptistCare +
Coordinator, Halal Food Bank

With over ten years of experience in Business Analysis and working with the community, Maryam Khan understands that strong, positive relationships lie at the heart of sustainable programs and initiatives.