5 Reasons Mentoring Will Give Your Career a Boost

By Laura Brandenburg, Host, Bridging the Gap; Founder and Instructor, My Business Analysis Career

Originally published at http://www.bridging-the-gap.com

We are lucky to be part of a great profession. This profession is full of amazing people who give much and do great work. Every time I meet a new passionate BA, it re-invigorates my energy for what I do as a business analyst and as a mentor helping other business analysts. Something about being part of all the BA-ness just clicks, you know?

As I look around, however, there is one area where we could definitely improve as a profession, and that is through mentoring. There are many, many BAs out there working independently or in new organizations without much support for unfamiliar tasks. Mentoring others is great for the profession – we all become stronger together – but it’s also a great decision for you, in terms of how it will help you take a step up in your career.

Here are five ways that mentoring other BAs will give your own career a boost as well.

1. By mentoring, you become more confident in your own skills

When your mentee asks you, “How should I prepare for this elicitation session?” or “What type of requirements specification is the best in this situation?” our answer is nearly always, “It depends.”  But as a mentor, “It depends” is not enough. You learn to dig deep and provide a list of factors on which it depends, or ask your mentee more about their project and help them find the best possible solution. In the process you become more aware of your own “internal checklists” or the ways you’ve figured out how to handle challenges successfully.

Often these internal checklists are elusive until you begin to translate them for someone else. And, in the process of building your own checklists, you become more confident in your skills as a business analyst too.

2. By mentoring, you gain perspective on how far you’ve come

As you build and share your internal checklists, you’ll soon realize that you now handle what were once challenging situations with ease. You might see a bit of your previous self in your mentee, but even if not, just by sharing your experiences, you are looking back over your business analyst career. By looking back you’ll gain perspective on just how far you’ve come as a business analyst.

3. By mentoring, you learn to give feedback

Whether or not your career path will lead you into management, being able to give critical and constructive feedback is an important skill for senior and lead business analysts. When working with a mentee, you might provide feedback on a requirements management plan, elicitation plan, meeting agenda, or requirements specification. You’ll learn to critically evaluate another business analyst’s work product.

Through this process, you’ll also learn to abstract your knowledge of business analysis from the experience of doing business analysis. You might be extremely confident today that you can create a great requirements specification, but will you know a great requirements specification when you see one for a project you’ve not participated in outside the input from your mentee? By evaluating deliverables and giving feedback, you again learn to be a better BA. And if your career direction does involve some level of managerial responsibilities, this is a critical skill to cultivate.

4. By mentoring, you will be perceived as a leader and go-to person

We all know that the most valuable employees in the organization are often the “go to” people. In order to be a “go to person” you must be able to give something when gone to. While sometimes these requests are for expertise only, often these situations are informal mentoring opportunities, whether for BAs, stakeholders, or other members of the project team. By giving your insight and feedback, you reinforce the idea that you are someone who can be a resource to others. And they will keep coming back, increasing others’ perception of you as a leader in your organization.

5. By mentoring, you’ll learn it feels good to give

I’m not kidding. Some of the most fun I have at work is on calls with mentees. It makes me proud and happy when I hear a light bulb click on in someone’s voice or inspire someone to tackle a new task with increased confidence. This is a natural human tendency and you’ll feel it too. Realizing that you can and will help someone else feels good, and it should. And feeling good about your work is bound to rub off on other parts of your workday, such as how you handle a challenging stakeholder or tackle a thorny requirements issue.

Be proud of what you have to give. Be proud of the people you’ve helped. There is no lack of opportunities to mentor other business analysts out there and no matter what your career level, you have something to give.