Brief: 2 Tactics for Fostering Mentorship
Sumeet Jain Jul 16 Updated on Jul 20, 2018
The current state of advice on teaching mentorship skills is essentially, “Value it. Do more of it.” That isn’t wrong. But sometimes more specific tactics can help to create mentorship expertise over time within your team. A couple of my favorites:
1. Establish "question standards" in the same way you have "coding standards".
Creating a framework for how questions should be asked gives your devs a way to help each other without just supplying direct answers. Instead, they can help someone who's struggling by guiding them towards a well-structured question. Sometimes the answer even emerges from that process organically.
Careful not to become zealots about this. If a person is struggling with the question format, make time to help them on their terms.
2. Discourage private messages in Slack.
If a dev has a question, they should ask it in a channel that the relevant audience can see. Making more questions visible sends a message that questions are normal, even from more senior folks. Here's a direct quote from our Slack: "Well, since this channel's a bit more lively now, I have a question."
This also results in more devs knowing about pain points. Part of improving mentorship is being aware of what's difficult. Otherwise, it's easy for devs to underestimate the complexities in your systems/processes.