Becoming a mentor

This article is about how I started with Power Platform technology, how I became a specialist and finally a mentor for people learning Power Platform. I will walk you through some situations and my best practices to help you start as a mentor for less experienced colleagues.

Maybe let’s start from the very beginning..

How I started with Power Platform

Actually, couple of years ago I started with Power Apps. I didn’t know that Power Apps is only one piece of a bigger platform – Power Platform. I am self-educated person and I didn’t have a mentor considering this technology. One day my boss told me that there is a technology I may be interested in and right now there are projects and needs. I started reading, learning, watching online courses but in my team there was any experienced Power Platform developer or consultant. 

We were young team and we all started like this. After some time I developed skills that helped me take part in Power Apps & Power Automate projects. My main role was to build Canvas applications. I remember that I was struggling for some time because I didn’t know how I was supposed to do build certain components. I was developing them my way 😛 and as you are probably thinking, definitely not the most efficient way. But hey .. they were all working right? 😛

Rest from Power Apps

Then, 1st time in my life I’ve changed company I worked for and I switched to some other technology which was Webcon BPS – platform that enables automate processes and make custom workflows based on SQL and SharePoint. Overall I worked in this technology for almost 3 years.

Project void

I think almost every one of us have had such time at work when there is no commercial project available and you have to focus on something else.. trainings, internal projects or even offering and creating PoC for Consulting department – 😉 Michal. Not everyone enjoys this time but sometimes you just have no other choice. Making a long story short – no tasks, no projects, no commercial opportunities in Webcon BPS technology occurred. Real project void – nothing..

I invested 3 years learning SQL, Webcon, administering servers, SharePoint and soft skills to gather requirements, provide trainings and comprehensively carry out Webcon projects. We lost partnership, we lost real opportunities to do some other Webcon projects, we had to look for something else, we needed a change..

Resurrection

I didn’t think it will be that fast but couple of days later buddy from our organization sent me Teams message when he mentioned about some Power Apps project they were developing and he asked if I could help. He knew that I had some past experience with Power Apps so he also knew that I will be 100% interested in. He was right – I was in, seconds later!

Functionalities we were developing were all about growth and development. Application was supposed to help people in our company measure their skill level. It was all about knowledge and how we can assess if some worker should get a promotion or salary rise! We were closely cooperating with HR Department to provide complex solution. And .. it didn’t quite work out 😀 But as a temporary solution it showed great opportunities how we can build really great applications if we would just have a little bit more time. This project was an internal one so when a commercial project came out of nowhere we had to stop implementation and focus on other needs.

Do you remember when I was talking about project void? This project void contributed to my comeback to Power Apps and Power Platform. Out of nowhere there was a need to create Power Apps application and out of 200+ people in my organization they picked me to help them! This sounds crazy but it really happened. I forgot how much fun Power Apps could give and how I felt when after days of development some really cool feature could finally see the daylight! After that I started working with Power Apps again. It sounds like real family reunion 🙂 It felt that way. My LinkedIn profile description says about this particular situation in this sentence:

I enjoy PowerApps development very much and not once, not twice I ended up sleeping next to the monitor thinking of what I have done wrong this time 🙂

You can check my profile out here 🙂

Becoming a Specialist

Later on I progressed my skills to develop more complex applications and I started learning and actually using Power Automate and MS Dataverse (previously Common Data Service) more. Finally I have passed my 1st Power Platform exam which was PL-200 Power Platform functional Consultant! Because of the fact I am self-educated developer I had to learn a lot of stuff I wasn’t actually using in my apps and I didn’t know about. What was even more difficult, I had to learn Power Virtual Agents and Power BI even if I have never used these components in any of my applications. I know it’s really hard to get to know something if you don’t use it every day. It is really easy to forget basics about configuration and implementation.

After that period I was fully committed to Power Apps. My job was simple as for developer. I was mainly developing custom solutions for projects and as always I cared very much about my development plan. In the future I wanted to be a mentor, maybe Team Leader or Technical Leader – this kind of stuff. I always enjoyed working with a team and being responsible for something more than just a line of code.

Would you like to be a Team Leader?

Sure 😛 That was my response to my Team Leader Kamil and also his Team Leader Michał, who asked me if I would like to be a Team Leader because I showed some predispositions. As I mentioned before I always enjoyed working with people and being responsible for them, to care of them. I was never such a person who wanted to rule and give orders. For me personally I always felt that one day I will be a Team Leader..

So, we were talking a lot about my new role and I was gathering knowledge how to be a Team Leader in our company and what my responsibilities would be. My colleagues taught me a lot. I mean a loooot 🙂 I was preparing to take this role for about 2 months.

Finally in September 1st 2021 officially I became a Team Leader. And the fact that it was Power Platform Team was crazy! Many teams in our organization are technology mixed teams. Our team was different. We were all focused on Power Platform and its child technologies:

  • Power Apps Canvas Apps,
  • Power Apps Model Driven apps,
  • Power Automate,
  • Power Virtual Agents,
  • Dataverse.

So, as you can see we were able to take almost every Power Platform project. We had developers and consultants in our team and we were strong! 🙂

Till now (January 2022) it is almost half a year after I became a Team Leader and I am very happy it happened. I care about my Team and I am always open for them to talk to me about anything. Together we resolve problems and I help them as befits a mentor.

Becoming a mentor

1st thing I want to mention is I am a fledgling mentor. I don’t know many things about this role but I really wanted to share with you my thoughts and how I turn up as a mentor.

This role is heavily connected to a Team Leader role. As a Team Leader you are responsible for people and for their development progress, projects and attitude (in some way). Our team of which I am a Team Leader is young team, considering technology. Only two team members (including me) have 2 years+ experience in Power Platform. Honestly, in such a team you become a mentor automatically. You must take care about their development path, plan actions, targets and technology activities.

Mentor – what it means to me?

Help others resolve their problems

Helping others resolving problems is very important for a mentor. By helping I don’t mean doing something for someone but giving tips and ideas. Sometimes it is enough to say: “Did you hear about this function … ?” Sometimes people just don’t know that Power Apps gives us very useful functionalities that are ready to use. There are cases when I help configure some actions or help investigate an error. But I try not to do the work for someone. I try to help and I try to put a developer on the right track.

Plan goals

This part of mentoring is kind of self-explanatory. I help team members plan their technical and soft goals and I always support them after we set a new goal. I really prefer when team member comes with a plan for his development path. Then we can discuss suggested approach and I can add two cents worth to it. It is very good to add some measurable goals for a mentor to assess the progress. Please know that you should try individual approach. Every person is different and you should not compare styles and personalities. Try to work with every team member individually and evaluate their progress in this way.

Assessment of progress

Assessment of progress is a task that requires individual approach. I try not to compare team members and their experience vs their knowledge. There are people who growth very quickly and they are “made” to be developers or consultants. Some other people really want to be professionals in IT but it is harder for them to adapt and learn new things. But it does not mean they will be less valuable. It is very good to determine new challenges for people because to be honest Power Apps is technology where you constantly resolve technical problems and deal with challenges. So when you educate people by challenging them you actually help them resolve more complex problems.

To properly assess the progress you should consider:

  • how long it takes for a person to resolve simple technical problems
  • how this person deals with more complex problems and what are first first steps to resolve a problem
  • how much this person learned during particular period in time and how long it takes to learn new stuff
  • if this person is able to freely use gathered knowledge and experience in the future
  • what quality this person delivers

Build relationship

If you build positive relationship with a team member this person will growth faster and will be more motivated. I think that if someone does not like his Team Leader he will not come with problems so they will store up. If someone does not enjoy talking to you he will not talk to you. It is that simple as that. So building strong cooperative and positive relationship will only help but remember to be a professional at the same time, not to talk about gingerbread cookies for Christmas for an hour instead of solving technical problem. But.. I am not holy myself so just remember to work out a balance between technical stuff and this private one. Then you got this my friend 🙂

Summary

You can see that being a mentor is a specific thing to do. You care about people, you help them, you support them and what is more important you help them grow. For me, I feel comfortable in this role and I feel like it is made for me because I did not learn many from books, webinars or trainings. As I mentioned before in many cases I am self-educated person and I learnt many of things alone. As far as I know I perform very well and this year may be even better considering how much I can give to others.

I hope that you find this article useful and you may think – Who may need my help? Maybe I can be a mentor? Maybe I can help too..

Thank you for your time, and for reading this article. Feel free to rate this article down here and comment if you liked it. If you have any questions feel free to contact me (via contact@poweruniverse.org), but first, you may be interested in joining a Newsletter? Hmm? (Sign up here) If you already did, woow, thanks, thanks a lot 🙂 

Via Newsletter I am sharing with you insights of my work, plans for upcoming weeks and knowledge about Power Platform Universe and IT world  🙂 If you are interested feel free to join! To every person who joins I am going to send latest Newsletter as well!

See ya!

About the author

Daniel Ciećkiewicz

FOUNDER

I am a Senior Power Platform Consultant focused on Power Apps and Power Automate. I also worked as a Team Leader with responsibilities for every Team Member and their development paths. 

In my private life I like video games, sport, gaining knowledge and a taste of good Scotch Whisky! 

Oh, I almost forgot, I love our Polish Tatra Mountains!

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x