Life-long learning is self-evident: In order to evolve and advance oneself, we need to adapt new knowledge constantly and learn how to utilize it in different contexts. However, the ways and methods of learning vary during the course of life.
How does learning happen when we are at work?
As children we start by exploring and testing the world, mimicking others. During our years of school, we fill ourselves up with information by reading and listening to lectures, trying to get a good overview of different subjects and a wholesome general education. In our work-life we then test the knowledge we have gained by studying – is it applicable in the real world? From which studies do I benefit the most at work, if any?
But the question that has come to my mind is: how does learning happen when we are at work?
Often learning at work is subconscious: we might not set a goal for learning, but continuously pick up new knowledge, ideas and methods from our peers and shape our own ways of working.
Our study system still rewards for the degrees we hold as opposed to the know-how we gain. So usually when we need to learn something, we often consider whether there is some type of course that can be taken.
Gofore mentoring: a new type of learning experience
When I first came across mentoring at Gofore, I was eager to jump at the occasion. We have such a highly skilled set of experts from different backgrounds and disciplines. I knew that whatever topic I would choose, a suitable match could be found from our pool of mentors. I also thought it would be a new type of learning experience for me. But I had no idea how many questions it would open in the end.
I wrote down some of the best things I learned through mentoring:
- You learn things you cannot read from books. You learn from other people’s experiences. I have learned that stories and examples are a powerful way to get a point across.
- A great mentor does not tell you the right answers. They ask you the right questions and make you discover the answers for yourself.
- The process itself can grow organically. Even though there is a goal in mind, the route can vary depending on the conversation. In addition, it helps you grow as a person.
- It is a chance for serious self-reflection. How have I done things before and how would I take on the challenges now if I had another opportunity? Am I on the path that I want to be?
The relationship with a mentor can grow to be a life-long friendship
One of the biggest revelations has been that despite a means for life-long learning, the relationship with a mentor can grow to be a life-long friendship. The relationship that we have been able to build has given me the strength to ask about anything – work, life, and beyond – and get full support and great discussions regardless of the topic. On top of that, I learned that I would really like to be a mentor to others as well and help them find new paths in life.
Goforeans participated for the first time ever to our own official mentoring programme last spring. ‘Official’ meaning that mentoring at Gofore has been rather unofficial and it has usually taken its form in project teams or with two colleagues talking casually, yet repeatedly, about their challenges at work.
Even though unofficial mentoring continues to be the most important form of mentoring in our company, we know that we also need structures and support. Participants gathered their thoughts and lessons learned on our blog. Get inspired!