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Thoughts on Mentoring - Part 3

I think sometimes a lot of what we call mentoring might be appropriately called coaching. Before you go trying to build a mentoring platform in your organization, make sure you've implemented the following:

  • Requesting (requiring just doesn't work) that each employee build a professional development plan with your help. Set up something achievable and measureable, and realistic too. For those that participate put in place a plan be sure to follow up, assess, and help them revise their plan as needed. This sounds simple - and while not hard - it's perhaps the most powerful thing you can do for your employees, teaching them how to manage their own development
  • Build a professional library of books that cover topics that matter to your business. Don't use Java, don't buy Java books! Get a good cross section of books and solicit input on adding to the library a couple times a year. Many of the most coachable/mentorable employees are younger and don't have a lot of disposable income, spending a $1000 a year on books isn't hard to justify to management.
  • Supplement the library with magazines, many of which are free. Get in the habit of finding an interesting article every week or two and pass it around for comment, or bring it to the next team meeting for discussion
  • It's not always 100% possible, but show the team that training dollars will go to those that build and execute a credible professional development plan. If they wo't invest in themselves why should you invest in them?
  • Encourage and support employees attending any free training that doesn't require travel money. User groups, Code Camp, SQLSaturday, and MSDN events are all useful, all they cost you is some lost productivity. It's an investment.
  • Try to establish recommended reading lists, certifications, other measurables that can contribute to pay raises or promotions. Optional, but worthwhile.

None of that requires a lot of work on your part (the manager that is) and for a few of your employees will be deeply appreciated. Some won't care, some will participate lightly, but the ones that love that you're helping them build their career - those are mentoring candidates! See if they can self motivate some and then decide if the chemistry is right to move to a mentoring relationship and the deeper commitment that requires.



I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


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