Mentoring & Coaching
Why do I mentor?
I'm a firm believer in that everyone should have at least one mentor - I always try to have at least 2 at any time.
Being mentored is a great experience where you can share knowledge, have a person ask you difficult questions (without the embarrassment of having to ask those stupid questions to your boss) and allow you to really push yourself. Sometimes they’re also great for picking you up again after you’ve just had a really awful week.
I've been lucky enough to have had several great mentors over the years and from a diverse background of roles - I have been mentored by Human Resources Directors, Contact Centre Managers, Heads of Product, Sales Managers and many others. I have gained value from each and every one of them. Sometimes the relationship lasts 3 months and some of them I still meet with on a semi regular basis with after multiple years.
So I decided to start giving back...
A lot of people have invested in me over my career so in order to repay the favour I'm passing it on.
Who do I mentor?
So far i've been mentoring people who exclusively either currently work in Product - or want to make a sideways move into Product. Here's what one of my mentees said about me:
James has acted as an informal mentor for me for about a year in my role as Product Owner. He is a keen listener and helps people understand and solve problems themselves rather than dictating to them what they should do. He provided me with useful feedback in terms of how I can develop my PO skills and coached me in the areas that I identified as development needs. He has been an invaluable sounding board for me to discuss solutions with as well as someone to run ideas past.
- Fi McLoughlin
How do I mentor?
I offer mentoring in a few different forms:
If you're local (Manchester, UK) I'll meet up with you every week or two to go over what has been good and bad about the last period before we talked. I'll ask you to fill in my self assessment tool so that we can work together on improving your skills.
Over Phone / Video Conference
Some people I have mentored I have done over the phone or video conference. This generally works on on a similar basis to in person but obviously we'll do it remotely. We can do this over Skype, Whatsapp or Appear.
Self Assessment only
I also offer a 'disconnected' form of mentoring. In this - I only provide my self assessment tool and then you are free to use it to grow and build your skills as you see fit.
Where are my strengths and weaknesses?
In the interest of honesty - you are more than welcome to see where my own strengths and weaknesses lie.
How can I get mentored?
I typically keep 4 slots open at any time. If you are interested in getting monitored by me, get in touch. Providing I have the time to provide mentorship I will be more than happy to. I don't charge for this service, I just want to give back.
I won't have all the answers - it may be that the area you're having problems with or need to grow in isn't an area I can help with. If thats the case I will be honest with you and either recommend someone else - or recommend resources on finding help with that challenge.
If you want to use my mentoring self assessment tool, please feel free to. All I ask is that if you decide to change it and distribute it, please accredit me as the author.
To find out more details about my self assessment tool go here:
Join the Mind the Product community Slack channel and join the #pmmentoring channel. It is full of great Product Managers and Product Owners who are more than happy to answer your queries and questions and most will be willing to spend time with you, either in person or remotely. You may even bump into me there.