Have You Ever Been Forced to Mentor?

Why is mentoring important to an IT career? Because we have
so much technical information to consume, and a mentor can add context to any given challenge. But for mentoring to work the chemistry
has to be right, and both parties have to agree to their roles. Mentoring and being mentored requires
mutual respect and keeping egos in check.

But mentoring doesn’t always work. Someone may mistake basic initial training for mentoring, annoying the "mentor" who doesn’t want that kind of involvement, and certainly doesn’t want to feel like he’s teaching his
job away. It could be even more complicated if the mentor is younger
and doesn’t have the patience for an older colleague.

So what to do? Have you ever been an unwilling mentor? How did you shake yourself loose without hurting yourself in office politics? Let us know by posting a comment below.

– Dino Londis

Comments

  1. BY Julia says:

    Interesting post! I was never an unwilling mentor, always being happy to pass on what I know in hopes they would become a helpful co-worker. When I was first starting in IT, however, I did have a few unwilling mentors who were stingy with the answers (much less offering instruction voluntarily). I learned a big lesson from one though – when I asked a technical question a second time, he said he will never answer the same question twice. From that point on I wrote EVERYTHING down and never asked anything twice ever again. The personal knowledge base that grew from that thus became a great tool when I mentored others.

  2. BY Julia says:

    Interesting post! I was never an unwilling mentor, always being happy to pass on what I know in hopes they would become a helpful co-worker. When I was first starting in IT, however, I did have a few unwilling mentors who were stingy with the answers (much less offering instruction voluntarily). I learned a big lesson from one though – when I asked a technical question a second time, he said he will never answer the same question twice. From that point on I wrote EVERYTHING down and never asked anything twice ever again. The personal knowledge base that grew from that thus became a great tool when I mentored others.

  3. BY Brian says:

    I think the “frustration” with being a mentor involves the willingness of those being mentored. The times I got frustrated with this subject was when I was trying to teach someone who wasn’t willing to learn as much as just wanted to be spoon-fed all of the answers instead of just being pointed in the right direction. I think it’s still important, my career would not have seen the kind of growth it had unless I had someone willing to mentor me on my first entry-level job.

  4. BY Brian says:

    I think the “frustration” with being a mentor involves the willingness of those being mentored. The times I got frustrated with this subject was when I was trying to teach someone who wasn’t willing to learn as much as just wanted to be spoon-fed all of the answers instead of just being pointed in the right direction. I think it’s still important, my career would not have seen the kind of growth it had unless I had someone willing to mentor me on my first entry-level job.

  5. BY Greg says:

    In the times that I’ve mentored, as well as being mentored by others, the one truth I’ve always seen is that mentor programs always express the real world details that you never see in a classroom. Cultivating soft skills, conveying to a new hire how things are supposed to be applied and work in the real world, cannot truly be taught in the classroom. This is best shown in real world application by a mentor.

  6. BY Greg says:

    In the times that I’ve mentored, as well as being mentored by others, the one truth I’ve always seen is that mentor programs always express the real world details that you never see in a classroom. Cultivating soft skills, conveying to a new hire how things are supposed to be applied and work in the real world, cannot truly be taught in the classroom. This is best shown in real world application by a mentor.

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