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Sumeet Jain (he/him)
Sumeet Jain (he/him)

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Brief: 2 Tactics for Fostering Mentorship

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.


Related: RailsConf 2018: Immediate & Actionable Tactics for Leveling Up Devs

Discussion (4)

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hudsonburgess7 profile image
Hudson Burgess

Completely agree w/ #1 -- my policy is read the code before you ask me. Forces both mentors and mentees to better articulate themselves; I could write a whole separate post on that...

Completely disagree w/ #2 :P -- in my experience, Slack is the online equivalent of an elementary school cafeteria (could write a post about that too), so for focus' sake I'm very particular about what I pay attention to. I'm much more likely to answer a PM and follow up in person than to start a conversation in a larger channel.

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sumeetjain profile image
Sumeet Jain (he/him) Author

That's fair! Everyone's experience with Slack is different :)

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joshcheek profile image
Josh Cheek

What are your question standards?

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sumeetjain profile image
Sumeet Jain (he/him) Author