Mentoring Dennis Becker

Mentoring: Interview with Agile Coach Dennis Becker

Dennis Becker is an agile42 coach with a background in law, agile project management and human-centred design. In 2021 he joined the agile42 team, and experienced our mentoring-based onboarding processes. We asked him a few questions about what mentoring means to him, and why it's such a key part of agile business onboarding.

He shares his insights and reflections in the video below.

Register for October's free mentoring webinar to learn more about mentoring and ask questions.

Read the full interview transcript below:

Why is it important to have a mentor?

There are many ways in which a mentor can encourage and enable the personal as well as the professional development of another person. For example, they can help focusing on a goal or provide qualitative feedback.

In a company, the knowledge of a mentor can help in training and creating a high quality and productive workforce through mentoring programs. With the help of a mentor, the mentee can set personal as well as professional development goals themselves. At times when the mentee is having troubles completing a task or achieving a goal, you can go and ask the mentor for help. This encouragement may motivate the mentee to continue despite obstacles and a mentor can also recognize and articulate the strength of the mentee to instill confidence.

There's honest feedback that comes from a trusting mentoring relationship. Through building trust, the mentee understands that the constructive criticism he gets or may get is aimed to their growth and is not intended to to make them feel miserable. A mentor can expose weaknesses and point out opportunities for improvement to the mentee.

In a nutshell, the mentor can support your growth, help you setting goals, and offer encouragement and feedback.

How has agile42's mentoring made a difference to your onboarding experience?

When you start a new job, and perhaps even take a new position, the flood of new information and things can often leave you somewhat disorientated. It's just too much. At first, it can even be difficult to recognize your own value, and how you can best contribute.

By offering weekly mentoring from the first week on, agile42 was helping me a lot to quickly understand the context and procedures I was in and to quickly get my head around things. However, we paid special attention also to my individual development, which means that we picked out various topics which are important from my perspective in order to reach goals and to improve.

Due to the situation with COVID, and the remote setup, the mentoring had a different importance, I think, than in previous jobs because it was more difficult to get a feeling for your work, for your colleagues, and what you actually do and with whom. So the mentoring was already helping me a lot to get started.

What is important when choosing a mentor?

What I think is important to consider when choosing a mentor is possible diversity. You will work closely with your mentor, and it's important that you harmonize with this person. Otherwise the relationship will feel a little bit strained or forced. But at the same time, you don't want to have someone who's just like you or your best friend, because you rather need someone who brings in a new perspective of things; who brings in diversity. And having this kind of mentor then helps you to step out of your comfort zone.

Secondly, trust is important. Trust is one of the greatest importance. After all, you will tell your mentor a lot of different things in confidence. In fact, this relationship will be most successful if your mentor trusts you as well as you trust your mentor. So build on this mutual trust to make the very best of your partnership.

Last but not least: expertise. You would like a mentor with enough experience to help you address your specific challenges. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to choose someone with the most years of work experience on their record. This isn't a matter of finding a mentor with the most years of experience or the greatest title. Instead, it's about choosing a mentor who has the knowledge as well as the experience to guide you along your own way.

To summarize, this means there are three important things to consider when choosing a mentor: first of all, diversity; second of all trust; and last but not least, expertise.

Curious about Mentoring?

Becker will be a guest in our October webinar, The Value of a Sensei: Lifelong Learning Through Mentoring. Along with agile42 coach Ninja Granzow, he will explore this theme and share insights. Register now for free to learn more and ask questions.

Growing as a Scrum Master and Beyond

Last Wednesday, the 11th of November, we ran our webinar "Growing as a Scrum Master and Beyond"! This topic clearly resonated with many, as we set a new record number of participants. We spotted familiar names who have been following us over the years, and many new names we hope to see again. It makes us happy to see our webinar network growing! 

We had the great honour of welcoming two guests on this webinar, Jelena Vucinic and Bob Stomp, who joined our CSP-SM training this fall. Together with agile42 trainers & coaches, Giuseppe De Simone and Niels Verdonk, we hope they provided you with the content you were after. 

As the coaches mentioned early on in the webinar, being a Scrum Master in a company is much more than just attending a 2-day training to get certified. Whilst your role is to primarily coach the team, it is also to teach, give advice, be a mentor and role model of the Agile and Scrum values and principles. This is not always an easy task. The knowledge and skills you need as a Scrum Master will grow through education, perhaps some additional coaching and most of all the experience and support of other Scrum Masters in your organization and network. 

As Jelena mentioned during the webinar, a typical day for a Scrum Master is not only to facilitate Scrum meetings, however a multitude of other undertakings. You observe the team, prepare for meetings, follow-up action points from meetings, handle impediments, have 1-on-1 meetings with the team members and stakeholders when needed and think about new ways in which you can help your team.

The webinar attendees were particularly interested in the ways you can grow as a Scrum Master, for which there are various paths. You can of course take the training provided on the Scrum Master growth path as visualised in the diagram below. Each training goes deeper into the content of the Scrum Master, and you will gain valuable new skills and learnings to add to your toolbox. The below diagram shows the steps to become a CSP-SM: 


We recommended reading The Hitchhikers Guide to Agile Coaching and checking out the post on 5 books we believe every Scrum Master should read.

Other training we offer is the Advanced Team Coaching Course which we recommend for those who already have CSM certification. There is also the ICAgile Team Facilitation Certification to support you as a Scrum Master. Furthermore you could consider coaching from one of our Agile coaches, for example, to grow you or your team of Scrum Masters.

Many of you listening asked us about the whole CSP path, how to grow skills and mindset as well as next steps after CSP-SM certification, and we feel that depends on what skills you wish to deepen. Below you can see examples of next steps, and our Mentoring programme can assist you on these paths. Mentoring is a long term commitment both from your side and the Mentors side, and this is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, and to grow and learn together. 

If you would like to explore next steps on your individual growth path and/or like to enquire about our Mentoring programme after the CSP-SM, please get in touch with us and we would be happy to help.

Our upcoming trainings can be found here - take the next step on your journey with us!

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Have a great weekend, and don't forget to check out post and upcoming webinars!