18 June 2010

Friday Top 5

ASAE's Associations Now has been running a series over the last several months about mentoring.  The focus of the article has primarily been on "external" mentoring (mentor/padawan relationships that aren't supervisory relationships).  But internal mentoring relationships are perhaps even more important.  I've brought along a fair amount of more junior staffers over the years (whether or not they directly worked for me), and I think I have a little insight to share with regards to internal coaching/teaching/mentoring.
  1. Do NOT just do the project. Yes, "you can have it done the way you'd do it, or you can have me do it, but you can't have both."  That's a GOOD thing.
  2. Schedule plenty of extra time. Yes, you could do it in a week and run with the first (or at least lightly edited second) draft. But then your padawan doesn't learn anything.  If it's someone whose neck you can wring, give it 2-3 times as much time as you would doing it yourself.  Someone who's NOT in your direct chain of command? Double that. The worst thing you can do? Yank the project back because of a rapidly approaching deadline. You've then told your padawan (in deed if not in word) that she's incompetent.
  3. Ask questions.  There's a reason the Socratic method has stood the test of time. Spot a problem? Don't just tell your padawan - help her find it.  Then don't just supply the solution - once again, help her find a solution on her own.
  4. Listen. And pay attention. You don't know everything.  No really, trust me, you don't. New eyes have new insights and new ideas. Just because you didn't think of it doesn't mean you shouldn't try it.  Even better? Let your padawan run with the idea (but make sure to support her so she has the highest possible chance of success and give her political cover if it doesn't work).
  5. Praise in public - correct in private. Something goes well? Sing her praises from the rooftops.  Something goes not so well?  See above re: political cover.  Don't leave her hanging.
What have you learned in your years of being a mentor? Being mentored? Share it in the comments.

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