Training vs mentorship: Training is formulaic and task-specific; mentorship is broader and ongoing
Mentorship is not about solving problems; it’s teasing out solutions
Mentorship requires an almost parental level of patience
Can you please introduce yourself and what you do?
I’m Jason Myers I’m the Vice President of Customer Success at Altrio. I’ve joined early-stage tech companies and I helped to build and scale the operational side - the business side of the startups. That’s everything across customer success, sales, marketing, and operations.
What’s your experience like being a mentor across those companies?
I’ve been a mentor in a few different capacities. As a leader of a team, I’m a mentor to the people that I employ. Then of course, informally, I’ve been a mentor to a number of different friends or colleagues who want to break into Customer Success and tech, and who just need general guidance. And then I’ve done more formal mentorship: things like the Catalyst Coaching Corner program and similar programs.
Are you actively seeking out these mentorship opportunities, or is it a side effect of your role?
Both. I don’t actively seek out being a mentor in that capacity within my personal relationships with friends or colleagues. And I’ve never sought out to formally be a mentor to any employee on my team. I think that naturally happens as part of your relationship with people you care about. So for friends or colleagues that I care about and want to help, I will naturally mentor them on things that I’m knowledgeable about that they might not be.
And it’s the same with the employees on my team. It’s my job as a leader to care about them and their personal and professional growth, and to want the company to do the best they can. It’s natural that you’d want to mentor in that capacity. But then after doing that for a while, I began to find it very rewarding, personally, to be a mentor. Those relationships are so valuable that I’ve started to actually seek out formal relationships like the Catalyst Coaching Corner.
Is there a distinction between mentoring someone and just training them?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve never really framed the two as the same thing.
I think training someone is a lot more task-specific. There’s a job to be done, and there’s a process for that job to be done. It’s my job to inform you of that process and help you be the best at that process, and then you’re good to go. Training is very formulaic from that perspective. There’s a set outcome that you’re looking to achieve.
With mentorship, it’s a bit more broad and esoteric. You may have specific goals that you’re trying to help someone achieve, but I don’t think mentorship is ever really done. There’s always more that you can learn. Mentorship is more of a trusted relationship and a trusted kind of advisory capacity that helps inform growth. I think it’s far less structured - although it can still be structured to some degree. It’s far broader than just training, and it’s more impactful. It’s more about evolving than simply training.
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What kind of person makes the best mentor?
I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to the types of people that fit the best mentors or the best mentees. I think it’s more about finding the right match between communication, teaching, and learning styles. It’s matching the availability of the mentor and the mentee, and the kind of expertise that’s being sought out. I think you have to find someone who is at the right stage for all of those things.
And then there’s the question of what do you actually want this mentor for? For example, there are different mentors suited to specific purposes. You could have a tactical advisor that’s an expert in solving a specific problem, or a general coach who helps you be the best leader/manager you can be by helping you with your process or mindset.
What misconceptions do people have about mentorship?
First thing I should say is that mentorship is not a one-sided relationship. A lot of people look at mentorship and frame it as someone being a giver and the other being the receiver. As a mentor, I am now “gifting” you with this knowledge, and the value is all on the mentee.
That couldn’t be more wrong. Mentorship is a very reciprocal relationship. I learn a lot from the people that I mentor. I also learned a lot about myself through the process of mentorship.
A lot of people also think that mentorship is doing someone’s work for them or telling them how to do that work. It’s not about solving problems for them. It’s about helping them tease out the right solutions for themselves.
A lot of people go into a mentorship relationship thinking, “I’m the mentor, therefore I know better than the other person on this subject, and I’m going to come in and tell them how to do their job.”
I think it’s almost impossible for you to know 100% more than the person you’re mentoring because you can’t live their life, right? If I’m meeting with a mentee once a week, they’re living their job 40, 50, 60 hours a week. I’m only living through it for 30 minutes or an hour, where they tell me about their problems. I can’t possibly have more expertise or know more about those problems than they can.
I might’ve lived through that at a different company, or have more experience in solving that problem, but I can’t just prescribe my experiences to their challenges. I need to help them tease apart the solutions they think are going to work for their problem.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a mentor?
My first question would be, “Why?”
What are you hoping to get out of it?
Being a mentor is a fantastic experience, but you should be clear on what you’re trying to get out of it, because that will dictate the type of mentorship that best fits you and your mentee.
How formal and structured of a relationship do you want to form? Do you want to join a formal coaching program where you have guaranteed fixed time commitments and a guaranteed and fixed format? Or do you just want to build relationships with people?
Second thing is that people underestimate the challenges of being a mentor. It’s a bigger time commitment than you might think, because you get invested in these people and you care about these people’s lives. You want to go above and beyond.
Don’t take online 10 mentees and think you’re going to spend half an hour with each of them. You’re going to invest time in people. So start small.
Lastly, you shouldn’t go into mentorship seeking specific, tangible benefits for yourself. It’s not for your own status symbol. You have to go into it with a mindset of “I am seeking to give, not get.” And then by creating value, you end up unlocking value for yourself.
Do you have any final thoughts on mentorship?
It’s incredibly valuable and fulfilling - do it!!!
Being a mentor requires the utmost patience. If you’re an impatient person, mentorship may not be for you.
It’s almost like a parental instinct. You see somebody who’s making mistakes and you want to jump in and solve all their problems. That’s really doing a disservice to the person. You have to let them make their mistakes. You have to let them fail because that’s how they’re going to improve.
You have to accept that as a mentor, you’re not in control. You can provide your best advice for how to navigate a scenario, but they will (and should) make up their own minds as to what direction they go. That’s their prerogative.
Altrio is a software company with a mission to help real estate investors and managers achieve their goals and enjoy their work by creating software and services that make their jobs easier.