The Strategist

How to become a good mentor for your trainee

06/04/2018 - 14:43

Many companies hire trainees who want to gain valuable practical experience. How to provide them with good practice? After all, you are expected to like them, because at the end of the practice he will return to the university and talk about how he spent the summer with your company. This can significantly affect the organization's ability to hire graduates for a full day. And the fact that you attract trainees can prove seriousness of the company's intentions.

How to create good and productive relationships in the trainee-mentor couples, without slowing down the overall pace of the team's work? Camille Fournier tells about it in her book “The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change”.

First days

The trainee’s first days will be the same as first days of newcomers: getting used to the situation, the office, getting to know people, studying the existing order. Approach him several times a day to make sure that he is not lost and not stunned by the amount of new information.

An idea for a project

First of all, you need to give the trainee an interesting project. It would be wonderful if you as a mentor were not scared of coming up with an idea for a project. Without a specific task, your mentee will feel lost and bored. It is difficult to define a trainee’s duties even for experienced employers, and, of course, the trainee himself isn’t able to do it.  

Task your trainee with a project in no less than two weeks after arrival

If you really do not have anything special, look at your own project. Select some small areas for several days of work and assign trainee the task.

Project management

When the idea of the project is ready, try to apply principles of project management. Is the project divided into smaller parts? If not, spend the first few days with the trainee to do this. Walk through the hierarchical structure of the project. Does he understand everything? Listen to the questions and answer them.

Remember that you are also practicing your management skills

In this case, these skills consist in the ability to listen and communicate to the interlocutor, and to see and understand his reaction.

Listen carefully

Listening is the first and most basic skill of people who control other people. Listening is an initial product for understanding, and this is one of the basic properties of a good manager. Listening is necessary in any position.

When your client talks to you, pay attention to your behavior. Stop thinking about what you will say next, about your own work. Here is one of the first lessons of direct or indirect management: usually people do not know how to express their thoughts so that others will understand them accurately. We do not have a collective mind or telepathic communication.

The art of understanding

Always be ready to express a complex thought several times and in a different manner. If you feel that you do not understand what your trainee asks, repeat his question differently. Let him correct you. Use a writing board and accompany your statement with a drawing or diagram if necessary. Spend as much time as necessary so that the trainee understands you.

And love the feeling when you understand him

Remember that you have great power in the eyes of the trainee. Maybe he's just afraid to break the conversation with you, he wants you to like him, or just tries very hard not to look silly. He cannot ask questions even when he does not understand something. Make your life easier and get these questions out of him. The probability that you will spend time answering his questions is negligible compared to the probability that, without asking the necessary questions, your student will move in a completely wrong direction.

Based on "The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change" by Camille Fournier

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