Mentor it. Who is he? What's he doing?
They appear more and more often in IT companies, transferring not only knowledge and experience, but also showing new directions of professional development of employees. IT mentors, because we are talking about them here, are an effective solution to increase the potential of developers, and thus the whole company.
Building a competitive advantage is one of the key objectives of any company operating in the market. In this context, we need not only a good business idea, products or services desired by customers, but also employees with the appropriate competencies who will be able to implement the vision of the company development indicated by the managers. Due to the high demand of the latter in the IT industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire them. It is often easier to train such workers and develop their professional skills on their own. Therefore, the culture of knowledge sharing, the exchange of ideas and experiences plays an increasingly important role in technology companies. This, in turn, makes mentoring, which returns to favor after the era of coaching dominance, of great importance.
The process we now call mentoring seems to have accompanied man in various ways and in various forms almost from the beginning of his history. An example is ancient Greece and the figure of Socrates, who was a philosophical guide to the young inhabitants of Athens, or the platonic academy, where knowledge was acquired through the master-student relationship. It is worth adding that the very word “mentor” comes from Greek mythology and means a thinker. This character was a friend of Odysseus. The latter, before going to war with Troy, entrusted his mentor with the care of his son Telemachus. However, it was not really until the 18th century that the term mentor appeared in exactly the sense that it is now commonly used. This was due to François Fénelon and his literary work “the adventures of Telemachus”. However, the idea of mentoring began to make a real career only in the 1970s.
Mentoring is a partnership between the master and the student, it is the drawing of knowledge and experience of authority, the transfer of skills, but also values and a certain attitude. Mentoring is providing support in both personal and professional development. However, it is worth realizing that the mentor not only gives, but also gains, because in reality the idea of mentoring is based on two-way activities, on mutual development. How does it look in the IT industry?
Who should become an IT mentor?
First of all, it should be strongly emphasized that it is not easy to find a good mentor both in the IT industry and in any other. Contrary to appearances, not everyone is suitable for such a function in a team or, more broadly, in a company. It’s like being a leader-not everyone will be. Meanwhile, the mentor must also be a leader, he should have not only a lot of experience and knowledge, but also the appropriate predispositions, character traits.
Most often, the IT mentor is the programmer with the longest experience, who achieves the best results at work. However, this should not be regarded as a promotion to another position, but rather as the next stage in professional development. An IT mentor can be defined as a technology leader who keeps his hand on the pulse of new technological trends and proposes the implementation of these innovations that can significantly affect the efficiency of work and the level of projects performed. Above all, however, the task of the mentor is to motivate and inspire employees, to activate them for continuous development, to indicate the best directions of this development. This is particularly important support for young and new employees, but the knowledge and personality of the mentor should really be used by all team members. Mentoring is a contact with another person, so the mentor should also have the appropriate interpersonal skills. A person without high soft skills, without the ability to transfer knowledge and reach the second employee, is essentially a paper mentor, from which the company will not benefit, as well as employees.
Benefits of mentoring
More and more IT companies are seeing the benefits of mentoring. Examples include companies such as Bosch (“Mentor” program, dedicated to interns, internships or new employees) or Cisco (mentoring in the field of IT security). An experienced person who motivates employees to work hard, who shows how to avoid mistakes and bad habits at work, shares his knowledge and successes, is an extremely sought-after pillar of modern development teams. The actions of the IT mentor are not only beneficial for the employees themselves, but also for the company in the long term. On the one hand, the professional satisfaction of the employed programmers and other IT specialists and their loyalty are growing, on the other – the effectiveness of the teams is increasing. To this must be added effective talent management, reducing conflicts between employees, increasing job stability and improving team-level management. Thanks to the actions of the mentor, the employee receives effective support, tailored to his individual needs and predisposition, which also often translates into increased involvement in the work in the group. Under the influence of a mentor, a young person finds in himself the need for self-realization, and for this he can count on constant and sincere feedback from the authority supporting him.
Can you count on the support of mentors in your work? If so, please share your experience in this area. Or maybe you yourself are IT mentors? We are waiting for your comments. By the way, we encourage you to read the article ” professional burnout in it. How to deal with it?”.