Professionals who take the Disruptive Agile Mentor (DAM) exam encounter a progression of advanced mentoring scenarios in which they need to engage decision-making skills to assist individuals and teams in becoming self-managed, cross-functional, and adaptable.
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Candidates should demonstrate the following competences to be granted the Disruptive Agile Mentor (DAM) certification:
Upon understanding the differences between mentoring, consulting, psychotherapy, and coaching, an agile mentor can ensure to provide their clients with the right type of support based on the situation at hand. They can also refer their clients to other professionals when necessary. This ensures that their clients receive the appropriate accompaniment and guidance to meet their needs.
- Exceeding the mentor's frame: It should be noted that the mentor's work area focuses on professional development but in no case trying to resolve internal conflicts of their client, so the mentor should correctly identify at what times their client requires another expertise to refer them or make a discipline change.
- Not understanding the mentor role: A mentor must be clear that their practice not only goes through delivering experiences or answers to situations that their client lives, but also must challenge various aspects of their way of doing and understanding along with seeking to develop new knowledge and skills through their learning journey.
1.2. Chooses when to implement the disciplines of training, consulting, coaching, mentoring, and facilitation
An agile mentor must be able to discern when to practice mentoring over other disciplines such as consulting, coaching, training, and facilitation because each of these approaches has a different purpose and outcome, and each discipline can be effective in different situations. The wrong approach can lead to ineffective accompaniment, lack of progress, or even adverse results.
An agile mentor should consider the differences between these approaches and choose the right instance to ensure they are providing effective mentoring that supports the goals and needs of the team or individual being mentored.
- Not understanding the mentoring approach: using the wrong approach can lead to ineffective mentoring where goals are not met or may even bring negative results for the client.
- Not adapting to the mentee's needs: Many times during a mentoring relationship, the client may need other disciplines to advance on their path, it is important that the mentor can detect those needs and show them to their client so they can complement with other disciplines that help them achieve their objectives.
An agile mentor needs to distinguish situations when to stop mentoring an individual or agile team because mentoring is a partnership that requires the mentor and the team/individual to work together towards a common goal. If the mentor is no longer effective or the team/individual is not being receptive or responsible for their process, it might be time to end the relationship considering that mentoring can take a long time and require significant resources that may not be being utilized in the best way. If the mentor cannot get the team/individual to progress, or if the needs of the team/individual have changed, it might be more productive to end the mentoring relationship and focus resources on another type of service.
Demonstrating competence in distinguishing when to stop mentoring an individual or agile team is crucial to ensure that the mentor remains productive and effective.
- Dependency Generation: The mentor should ensure that the relationship with their client generates development and independence in them. If a dependency on the mentor is created and the client does not take action until they have the mentor's vision, the mentor should show and alert about this.
- Lack of Responsibility: The client should build their own path and make their own decisions in their actions. Under no circumstances should the mentor be held responsible for the outcomes of the client's actions, and the client should not attribute that responsibility to the mentor.
Every mentoring relationship should occur in a context of confidentiality, so it's relevant that the agile mentor can transparently accompany a team/individual to determine the boundaries of the relationship regarding this concept and agree on what things can be communicated outside of the practice of it publicly to third parties involved such as leaders or sponsors of the process.
- No establecer correctamente un marco de confidencialidad: El mentor, con su conocimiento en la importancia de este tema y las implicancias en el proceso, debe acompañar a su cliente a establecer correctamente el marco de confidencialidad de la relación para que quede con total claridad para ambos lo que se puede o no divulgar. Adicionalmente, si existen terceras personas involucradas en el proceso, el marco debe abordar a todos las personas y explicitar cuál será su participación dentro de la relación y qué información se les puede comunicar.
- Not correctly establishing a confidentiality framework: The mentor, with their knowledge on the importance of this subject and the implications in the process, should accompany their client to correctly establish the confidentiality framework of the relationship so that it is totally clear for both what can or cannot be divulged. Additionally, if there are third parties involved in the process, the framework should address all the people and specify what their participation will be within the relationship and what information can be communicated to them.
An agile mentor must be able to distinguish between the words, tone of voice, and body language of the individuals and teams they accompany since each of these elements can provide valuable information about the emotional state and well-being of their counterpart in the relationship.
Through this distinction, the agile mentor obtains additional context and a perspective of what the speaker needs to convey. With this, the agile mentor validates and enhances listening, allowing for more assertive communication to generate trust and security in their clients, and thus position themselves as someone who listens and understands the concerns and needs of the same, generating openness and trust.
- Loss of relevant information: As mentors, we must always be present and have a focused listening on what the client shares with us. If we only pay attention to certain aspects, leaving others aside, we lose perspective and context of what is shared with us and what we propose as mentors may not have a direct relationship with the situation or challenge that the client is experiencing.
- Loss of trust: If as mentors we interpret that what our client shares with us is not relevant or we misinterpret the intention of what they communicate, they could conclude that they are not important to us, which will generate a break in trust and predispose them to not share their challenges or concerns. This makes it relevant that we practice enhancing listening and validating that what we are hearing is what the client wants to convey to us.
2.2. Inquire so that his/her clients can explore new concepts, identify assumptions, and challenge their thinking
Through inquiry, an agile mentor helps them develop a deeper understanding of the problems or challenges they are experiencing and identify possible solutions.
Developing a reflective capacity in their clients can help them think from other perspectives and generate new ideas and possibilities that break assumptions or challenge their current thinking processes.
Furthermore, an inquiry that encourages reflection and/or self-awareness allows their clients to identify areas of development and set goals for their learning.
- Aimless Inquiry: Not having a proper practice of inquiry can lead us as mentors to inquire into irrelevant things in front of what the client is proposing, which will cause loss of focus and digress on topics that are not directly related to what the client wants to achieve.
- Excessive Questioning: Inadequate inquiry can turn into excessive questioning and cause the client to take a defensive stance, making them feel questioned in their way of seeing and addressing things, which will make them close up and stop sharing certain aspects.
During mentoring exercises, clients may experience intense emotions such as anger, frustration, or fear. An agile mentor should maintain calm and composure in the face of these intense emotions, providing guidance and support to help those involved navigate the situation. By showing calm and composure, the mentor helps create a sense of safety and stability for individuals, making them feel more comfortable sharing their concerns.
Moreover, by showing confidence and serenity in these situations, clients can feel safe and confident to express themselves confidently and navigate the situation effectively. Along the same lines, the agile mentor can help their client develop skills to manage their emotions, which can benefit their health and emotional well-being during the relationship and beyond.
- Loss of trust: Lack of management and emotional intelligence on the part of the mentor towards the client and not being able to deal with the emotions that they may bring during the relationship can lead them into negative aspects, showing certain inability to exercise the practice and loss of trust.
- Reduction of motivation: If a mentor does not correctly manage the client's emotions, especially negative ones, facing their challenges, the client could translate those emotions into inaction or actions that take them away from meeting their objectives, and that will be reflected in the loss of motivation to keep advancing.
Much of the success of a mentoring relationship is based on the bond that can exist between the mentor and their client. The initial generation of this bond depends a lot on how the mentor presents themselves and is able to inquire into aspects beyond the professional realm, presenting themselves as a companion with a genuine interest in the client achieving the desired results. An agile mentor should be consistent with what they express and their actions or commitments, maintaining an impeccable public image in their environment.
- Professional focus: When generating a mentoring relationship, the mentor should clearly and confidently address both personal and professional aspects of their client, thus cultivating a trusting relationship to achieve deeper and more lasting results over time. If the relationship only focuses on the professional aspect, the achievements of mentoring will be diminished or confined to that aspect.
- Disinterest: Many mentoring relationships are based on the mentor accompanying a client in achieving certain objectives. To develop a correct relationship the mentor should always cultivate the client's motivation and show interest in them achieving their objectives. If this is not manifested, it is likely that the client will lose interest in the relationship or in achieving the objectives they have set.
3. Mentoring Skills
Sharing part of one's experience and knowledge makes a big distinction for a mentor, therefore, an agile mentor should be able to correctly express that experience without showing it as the only truth or the only path to follow, the same will be with the networks or contacts they have and to which the clients can have access. These contacts might be experts or have a lot of experience in a field but still do not have an absolute approach to the solution or objectives a client is looking for.
- Sharing experience as the only way: A mentor should know that their experience does not present a direct solution to the mentee's situations and that the contexts may be different, for which they should always bring their experience when they consider it will add value to the client. On the other hand, the client's challenges may not relate to their experiences and the mentor should recognize this to connect the client with people who can have a greater impact on the challenge they are facing and help them build networks that will be useful in the future.
- Not cultivating networks: The mentor should keep in mind that they are not the only person who can support the client and be aware that they will not always have the answers to the challenges or concerns of the client. Therefore, both will have to keep in mind that networks of people and access to them are a fundamental part in the mentoring relationship and achieving results.
When accompanying individuals or teams through a mentoring relationship, an agile mentor must be able to manage clear and unobstructed dialectics. At no point should they try to show themselves superior by complicating the message or using an excess of technicalities that the mentee may not know. Along with the aforementioned, a mentor should be able to open space for their client to paraphrase or inquire about the communicated to ensure that the message is being transmitted correctly.
- Curse of knowledge: In some cases, the difference in knowledge and abilities between the mentor and their client will be considerable. This also involves communication gaps, so the mentor should consider these when expressing themselves and communicating, trying to get as close as possible to the current knowledge of their client.
- Transmitting from hierarchy: It is important that even if the mentor has a higher hierarchy, greater experience or even is the leader of their client, they never transmit this within the mentoring relationship. This could cause the relationship to only be perceived as another instance where their leader tells them what to do and how to do it. In the relationship, the mentor should clearly establish the context change and recognize their client as an equal.
An agile mentor must have the ability to clearly distinguish when their client is communicating their opinions on a topic and when they are referring to facts that have occurred. It's also important to make them realize that their statements will be key to building from the objectives they have set to achieve. The agile mentor must be clear that many of the situations framed within the relationship will reflect the reality that the mentee observes and how their opinions or judgments often are restrictions that will not allow them to move towards their objectives.
- Confusing opinions with facts: A mentor must be clear when opinions and facts are being transmitted as this sketches the reality that the client experiences and how they perceive or interpret their world. It's fundamental to identify these differences to investigate and challenge those limiting judgments that do not allow the client to move towards their objectives.
- Transmitting opinions as facts: When communicating, the mentor will have to express clearly when they are transmitting opinions and interpretations of the situation so that their client can choose what to do with them. Otherwise, it could happen that the client takes them as reality which will make their decisions and actions biased by the way the mentor is evaluating the situation or their challenges.
In situations of high complexity, clients may fall into negative beliefs that diminish their vision of achievement or their motivation to reach their objectives. The agile mentor should be able to persuade that these moments are not necessarily conclusive in their process and accompany their clients to visualize facts or actions that can return the motivation to achieve their objectives and stay on the path towards them.
- Not Knowing How to Motivate: In a relationship, the client will go through various moments where they will face challenges or challenges that they must face, and it is important to stay motivated in front of these. This is where the mentor takes a relevant role always transmitting what they consider correct so that the client has their objectives close and sees that they have access to necessary resources, knowledge, and experience to carry them out.
- Not Being Able to Identify the Moments to Motivate/Persuade: The mentor will see the client tied to many judgments and foundations around their mental model which will make them always observe situations from the same perspective. The mentor must be able to identify these situations to persuade them to try new options or open up to new points of view, differentiating them from instances where the client does not act due to lack of motivation.
Within a mentoring relationship, the request for the mentor's opinion regarding the client's thoughts, opinions, or actions is constantly presented. In relation to this, a mentor should always seek to generate the most effective feedback possible allowing the client to self-evaluate and reflect so that they can recognize another point of view and take what is transmitted as a different opinion and opportunity to know another pattern of thought that can help them achieve their objectives in the relationship.
- Not Seeking Reflection: The client will request the mentor's feedback throughout the relationship regarding their thoughts and actions to seek other points of view and answers. Beyond delivering their experience and the actions they would have followed, the mentor should ensure the client reflects on what led them to act the way they did and how that is reflected in the results, seeking primarily that they can find ways autonomously.
- Not Providing Opportunities nor Spaces for Improvement: A relevant aspect of a mentor's feedback is to be able to highlight the opportunities they perceive in the client and how these could help them get closer to their objectives. Therefore, it is relevant that the mentor not only focuses on the aspects that did not go well, but also opens doors to these opportunities and shows them to the client, seeking to generate a sense of responsibility on their path.
An agile mentor should interact with their environment and create networks of contacts and communication with other individuals from the same or different disciplines. This interaction will allow the mentor to expand their contact network, which they can later make available to their clients. It's important for a mentor to recognize themselves as a learner, being aware that they don't have all the answers and being capable of asking for help when deemed necessary.
- Not Recognizing the Importance of Other Disciplines: In terms of knowledge, it's important for the mentor to be aware that they won't always have all the knowledge or all the answers, and that knowing other people and disciplines will make them more competent.
- Not Asking for Help from Experts: The mentor should consider the conception that they don’t have all the answers and that asking for help from another mentor or being advised by other individuals are practices that will help improve their mentoring role.
When interacting with various individuals during mentoring practice, an agile mentor will have to deal with different structures or thought patterns that act as drivers or barriers for the client. A skilled mentor should be able to recognize, enhance, and/or challenge them when they are directly related to the objectives pursued by the client.
- Not Recognizing Thought Patterns: Many of the actions and ways of approaching situations depend on the thought patterns we have ingrained. In this regard, it is important for the mentor to be able to identify what the client's thought patterns are to analyze how these are impacting the situations they are experiencing and the objectives they wish to achieve, in order to make the encounters more effective.
- Not Challenging the Client's Patterns: A relevant quality of the mentor is to be able to develop and challenge the client's thought patterns so that they can find solutions that have not been discovered previously, and that the reinterpretation of situations through new patterns allows them to take action and get even closer to their objectives.
4. Mentoring Relationship
An agile mentor should be clear that there are two areas in the discipline of mentoring: life and executive. In the former, the mentor should have the skills to accompany their client on personal projects, and in the latter, on professional aspects.
In this last one, an agile mentor should be able to distinguish two types of mentoring, behavioral and developmental, and also identify which approach is more suitable for the context and situation of each client.
Additionally, an agile mentor can use different approaches, or subtypes of mentoring, according to the needs of their client, being possible to establish a long-term formal process, specific interventions, micro-interventions, or even encourage the client to opt for acquired mentoring.
- Single and Rigid Approach: When an agile mentor does not have these distinctions, they tend to always apply the same approach, and do not manage to adapt it according to the needs and context of the client, which could generate a limited, rigid accompaniment with low probabilities of the client's development.
- Disconnection with the Client: The lack of connection with the client's needs and context can lead the mentor to address the situation with an inadequate approach which will generate disinterest and disconnection on the part of the client, translating into an ineffective relationship.
An agile mentor should have the ability to differentiate between sharing experiences, suggesting, and imposing guidelines in mentoring relationships, bearing in mind that mentoring is a collaborative process in which the mentor can share their knowledge and experiences, but always leaving room for the client to actively participate in the process by making their own decisions.
That's why the mentor should create a collaborative environment where the client feels safe to express their concerns and perspectives, avoiding imposing guidelines to stimulate critical thinking and autonomous decision-making on the part of the client.
- Imposing Solutions: If an agile mentor imposes their solutions as the only path and does not encourage the responsibility of the client to find their own ways and make their own decisions, they will be limiting their growth and autonomy, making the mentoring process ineffective.
- Creating Dependency on the Mentor: If the mentor shares their thoughts as absolutes and does not enable a collaborative and safe space to discuss even their own ideas, the client will repeat their behavior patterns, will not develop critical thinking, will limit their development, their autonomy, and will create a dependency on the mentor.
An agile mentor should have the ability to create clear and well-defined mentoring agreements, where objectives, goals, indicators, expectations, responsibilities, and mutual commitments between the mentor and their client are established throughout the process.
Understanding the importance of this allows for guiding the process ensuring a common agreement point between both parties, creating a safe, transparent, and open context that strengthens trust. This will prevent misunderstandings, confusions, and will focus the work towards the established objectives.
- Lack of Focus and Direction: If clear objectives are not established from the beginning, the mentoring process might lack a specific direction and drift into less relevant topics, wearing down the relationship and wasting the development opportunity for both parties.
- Misaligned Expectations: Not having an agreement where expectations are established could create differences, misunderstandings, frustration, and disappointment on both sides. Lack of Clear Responsibilities: If the responsibilities of both parties are not clearly established, confusions about who should do what during the mentoring process can arise, and this can generate demotivation and lack of commitment during the process.
- Difficulties in Assessing Progress: If indicators to measure the progress of the mentoring process are not established from the start, as it advances it will be difficult to determine if goals or objectives are being met and if the process is being valuable.
One of the key skills of an agile mentor is the ability to design effective interventions that generate a solid dynamic of interaction with the client. It is important that the agile mentor has a deep understanding of the different mentoring approaches, such as the one-to-one, peer-to-peer, and one-to-many methods among others, as well as understanding the characteristics, advantages, and benefits of each approach and knowing how to apply them appropriately according to the context and the needs of the client in order to carry out a more effective mentoring process and maximize the results.
- Inadequate Approach: If an agile mentor does not understand the characteristics, advantages, and benefits of each mentoring approach, they could select inappropriate interventions for their client's development.
- Not Using Multiple Approaches: An agile mentor must be in constant communication with their client, it is from this that we recognize the presence of the mentor and their availability as something fundamental. If the mentor only adheres to a single and rigid approach and does not open the space for the client to access them through other approaches such as virtual mentoring or on-demand mentoring, it could generate a lack of sufficient trust and end up being too sporadic a relationship.
An agile mentor has the ability to use and adapt various tools to enhance the relationship and maintain an open and effective channel of interaction. Moreover, they ensure that the sessions allow for an exchange of ideas, aiming for these to be visible and tangible through dynamics, tracking and/or evaluation tools to measure the progress of the process, feedback tools that help with the development of their client among others.
- Less Interactive Sessions: If an agile mentor does not ensure that the sessions are interactive, they could become monotonous and less participative, decreasing the client's commitment to the process and hindering collaboration and joint learning.
- Lack of Monitoring and Evaluation: An agile mentor who does not use tracking and evaluation tools may lose visibility on their client's progress which could result in a stagnation or even the conclusion of a mentoring process.
An agile mentor must have the ability to identify the right time and the right way to challenge their client. The mentor knows that challenging is a powerful tool that allows the client to see opportunities and situations from different perspectives, which contributes to their learning, growth, and self-discovery.
It's also important for the agile mentor to keep in mind that this challenge should be realistic and aim to push their client without exceeding their current capabilities to avoid frustration or demotivation.
- Premature Challenge: An agile mentor who does not know how to discern when is the right time to challenge their client can generate frustration or demotivation in them and hinder the learning process.
- Insufficient Challenge: An agile mentor who does not challenge their client timely can generate a stagnation or false sense of evolution which will result in an ineffective learning process.
- Unattainable Challenge: A mentor who challenges beyond the skills, experiences, and current capabilities of their client runs the risk of generating demotivation and loss of confidence in them.
An agile mentor should accompany their clients in generating actions that translate into concrete results directly related to the achievement of their objectives. To achieve this, it is essential to always keep in mind the objectives sought in the process, constantly measure the impact generated by the agreed actions identifying deviations, pseudo solutions or ineffective actions in order to adjust the strategies if necessary, and keep clients motivated and confident to achieve the expected results.
- Lack of Focus: If the agile mentor does not always keep in mind the objectives sought in the process, their client could carry out actions that do not contribute directly to the achievement of the goals. This could lead to a waste of time and resources in less relevant activities.
- Generic and Vague Actions: If the actions agreed upon are generic and do not lead to concrete results, the mentoring process could lack impact and effectiveness.
An agile mentor has the task of promoting individual responsibility and autonomy of their client by allowing them to make their decisions, choices, and take charge of their results. As mentors, we should encourage the client to have an active role in their evolution and growth during the process, emphasizing that the results will be a reflection of their commitment and dedication.
- Low Client Participation: Active participation of the client is essential to maximize the benefit of the mentoring process. If the agile mentor does not actively encourage the participation of their client in the process, it could generate low commitment to it.
- Not Encouraging Responsibility in Decision Making: If the agile mentor does not encourage their client to take responsibility in the decision-making of their own process and the results obtained from these, the mentor could be held responsible for the successes and failures, which will create an unsatisfied, unempowered, and autonomous-less client regarding their development.
- Generating Dependence on the Mentor: If an agile mentor fails to encourage individual responsibility in their client, this will generate a dependence on the mentor, making it impossible for them to find their own ways and actions without prior validation from their mentor.
An agile mentor should have the ability to promote self-discipline in the clients they accompany so that they remain firm in the face of challenges and can overcome obstacles that may arise during the relationship and sustain it over time.
On the other hand, many of the results obtained in a mentoring relationship have to do with things that happen in instances external to it and without the direct intervention of a mentor, that's why the client's discipline in carrying out their commitments, in generating changes in their day-to-day, and even adopting new habits play an important part in achieving results.
- Inconsistency and Lack of Follow-up: If the agile mentor does not manage to sustain the client's changes or actions over time through clear and precise follow-up, it will hardly generate different and sustainable results.
- Little Emphasis on Discipline: If the agile mentor does not emphasize the importance of self-discipline or does not accompany their client in developing it, the client might not dedicate the time and effort necessary to act consistently during the relationship.
5. Mentoring in the organization
An agile mentor should have the ability to recognize when the discipline of mentoring is an organizational need and therefore it should be expanded on a larger scale. This implies creating a network of mentors that align with the strategic objectives of the organization, who have spaces to interact, collaborate, mutually develop, and work together to obtain the expected results in the process. It is relevant to highlight that a network of mentors throughout an organization can be multi-level, meaning, having mentors who can also be clients of other mentors.
- Not recognizing when it's necessary to scale the practice: If an agile mentor does not identify when it is necessary to scale the mentoring practice at the organizational level, it could happen that isolated and misaligned subgroups are generated, achieving results in local focuses but not impacting systemically.
- Lack of alignment with strategic objectives: If the agile mentor does not ensure to align the organizational practice of mentoring with the strategic objectives, it might not be focused on the real needs of the company and therefore not generate the expected impact.
An agile mentor should have the ability to identify individuals within the organization who possess the suitable skills, experience, and knowledge to train and accompany them to become new mentors. Moreover, the agile mentor should promote the creation of an internal network of mentors aligned to foster a culture of learning and growth in the organization.
- Inadequate selection of candidates: If the agile mentor is unable to properly identify potential candidates with the necessary skills and competencies, individuals who are not the most suitable for that role might be selected. This could impact both the internal network of mentors and their clients.
- Lack of training and accompaniment: If the agile mentor does not provide adequate training and accompaniment to the selected candidates, they might not be fully prepared to assume their role, which could hinder or diminish the impact they might have as mentors.
An agile mentor should have the ability to observe, identify, and analyze objectively the behaviors, competencies, and current capacities of other mentors, to be able to identify the gap between these and the desired level in order to encourage a mindset of continuous improvement in them. From this, suggest and generate a plan of personal and professional development and growth for the mentors.
- Bias in evaluation: If the agile mentor does not carry out an objective evaluation and is influenced by personal biases or prejudices, they might not accurately identify the areas of improvement in other mentors, which could lead to ignoring important aspects and suggesting inadequate development plans.
- Superficial observation: If the agile mentor does not carry out a detailed observation of the behaviors, actions, and abilities of other mentors, they could miss important details that lead them to carry out an incomplete or erroneous evaluation.
- Not identifying opportunities for improvement: If the agile mentor is not capable of identifying aspects in which other mentors can continue developing, it could be a sign of stagnation and lack of continuous improvement, which not only affects the practice but also its clients.