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How Mentorship Made a Difference in My Work Life

Editor’s note: Unprecedented times caused by COVID-19 have challenged us to find new ways to stay connected and build community across our teams. While we're adjusting to recent changes, we're also reflecting on some of the special experiences that make the culture at each Facebook company office unique. The following post was written by Kerstin L., a diversity program manager based in Singapore. In her own words, she shares the most valuable lessons she’s learned from her mentor.
Partnering up with the right mentor can help you navigate challenges, uncover new perspectives in your career, and thrive at work. I’ve been so fortunate to learn from recruiting manager Ket S., whom I work with on recruiting projects. Mentorship from Ket over the last year has completely changed the way I work, and today, I see us as a dynamic duo with a clear vision of what we do and why we do it. We have each other’s backs, and most importantly, we keep our teammates’ best interests top of mind. My work with Ket has shown me the importance of defining a vision and outcome that we want to achieve, along with why we need to develop a strong narrative that tells the story behind what we believe and why it should matter to others we want to influence and bring along on our journey. Are you working to develop a narrative for your team or organization? Here are six key tips I suggest, which I’ve learned from collaborating with Ket.

1) Understand your partners

Your partners may include your teammates, colleagues, clients, or reports. In any instance, it’s important to know who they are and understand their roles, goals, and the challenges they’ve faced. I like to get to know my partners by learning about their backgrounds, seeing if we have any mutual connections, and asking them questions about what they do, what they’re hoping to solve, and how we can best help them.
Armed with this information, you’ll be in a strong position to share examples and use cases. It will also be easier to address any concerns that might relate to your partners’ work, such as how updates will impact them or the way you can meet goals together.
So proud to be a part of the APAC Recruiting team! (Photo taken during an offsite in 2019)

2) Over communicate

While you know what you do very well, other people may only be familiar with one percent of your work. To bring them up to speed, add buffer time into meetings and presentations to share background information, along with a plan, objective, or purpose. Offering more information will help your partners feel informed to make decisions and support your ideas.

3) When using data, share context

I’m still learning new ways to interpret and analyze data, and I find it challenging when I see absolute numbers without any additional information. Context gives data color, and it makes it more meaningful. For example, let’s say we’re looking at a report detailing how many people two different teams have hired. The report shows that Team A filled 1,000 roles and Team B filled 100 roles. At first glance, it appears that Team A did a better job than Team B. However, we’re making assumptions without knowing team goals, the number of current team members, the types of roles each team is hiring for, and more.
I’ve learned that before we draw any conclusions, it’s critical to have an understanding of what we’re looking at, along with how we should be presenting the information to others.

4) Feedback is a gift

It’s easy to lose sight of what other people want to know and get caught up in what we want to share. Feedback is important because it helps us work, grow, and achieve a desired outcome. Rather than waiting until the end to hear input from others, it’s good to ask for insight early on in your project. I’m fortunate that many of my peers and the leaders I work with are willing to take time to review my decks, give me feedback, and offer suggestions to improve.
That said, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to implement all of the feedback you receive, especially early in the project when someone may not have a full perspective of your work. As you consider their thoughts and suggestions, use your judgement to make changes. If you already feel confident, your work is likely good to go.

5) Anticipate questions

Be ready for questions—lots of them! I used to go to meetings unprepared because I didn’t consider what my audience might like to know. Now, I take time to think through potential questions people might ask so I’m ready to answer.
When preparing, consider your audience and stay focused on what matters most. Not all questions will be relevant, so think about information that will empower your listeners to make better decisions. If you’re unsure how to answer, ask your audience what they need, why they’re asking for that information, and how they’ll use it. This will help guide you forward while offering a supportive response.

6) Practice makes perfect

When it comes to presentations, practice makes perfect. I used to dread giving them and used to spend three hours drafting notes to prep—only to fumble or have my mind go blank. One of the first things I noticed about Ket was how he showed up at meetings and how prepared he was. That inspired me to overcome my fear of presentations, and I committed to improving over time.
I recently put together a deck to give an update on one of my recruiting projects, and one of the first questions I was asked wasn’t about the strategy and goals, but about how many times I’d presented the information. It was a huge compliment to hear that it sounded like I’d been doing it for a long time.

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