Category Archives: Management

Mentoring

Amy Lewis (@CommNimja) recently tweeted about mentoring:

“Good mentorship is like physical therapy: no pain, no gain.”

“Just had amazing conversation about mentors, and I have a question. Do you actively seek mentors and what do you do with them?”

The resulting discussion got me thinking about the mentoring process, and particularly where I fit into the role of a mentor and mentee. As a manager of people in the technology field and a technologist myself, I have the responsibility of mentoring those on my team in a number different ways.

The easiest way for me to mentor someone is in the area of technology. I have very talented people on my team, but we cover all IT disciplines (OS, servers, storage, virtualization, networking, security, compliance, project management, etc) with a small number of people. We have a very diverse set of application groups we support, each with their own set of requirements and nuances. We need to have a lot of depth and breadth in our knowledge, so there is always opportunity to mentor each other. One of my skills is the ability to see the bigger picture and build solutions that are more universal for the environment, rather than something very specific to one team, so that is something I try to mentor into my team.

Communication is another area where I am called to mentor my team. The company I work for has a diverse personality mix. With talent comes some interesting personalities… Knowing how to communicate with each person isn’t easy and something I struggle with myself. This also happens to be the hardest area where I am a mentee. I live deep in a lot of different technology and am called upon to give high level strategic presentations to the owners, sometimes with very little preparation. For me, I need to spend more time in preparation for these discussions and extracting myself from the technology. When I took the management role, I specifically asked for a mentor specifically to address this aspect and my boss has provided a lot of good feedback.

This topic has made me think about other areas that I need mentorship. These includes presentations,  HR aspects, and from a non-work related aspect, being a better Dad.

Where can I mentor others? For starters, I am a local VMUG leader and I could search out people who want to learn more. I am assisting one of the guys on my team as he studies for his VCAP exams and I could do more of that with the local VMUG members.

 

 

Management

I’ve entered a new realm in my professional career. I’ve jumped from just a geek to a geek with sub-geeks. I was recently promoted to “IS Director” for the company where I work. This is definitely a challenging position, where I am responsible for a fairly substantial budget, technical direction, and overall uptime of the 150+ systems, along with making sure the 3 people on my team are effective at what they do each day.

I’ve had the privilege of working for a few really good managers, as well as some that shouldn’t be in management. The one thing that stands out to me for the better ones is that you always know where you stand. Consistent feedback on performance is important. I’ve personally been blind-sided during annual reviews with things that should have been brought up 9 or 10 months previously–I don’t want to manage like that. I want my team to always be striving to perform their best and knowing where they need to make improvements. I also expect them to share their feedback about my performance.

Micro-management is also one of the problem areas in the IT world. There are many ways to accomplish the same thing. The end result is the primary goal, not always the way we get there. This is something that is going to be hard for me. My personal style is to want to do things my way, unless someone can show or describe to me a better way. The company hires some of the best talent available and they should be treated as such–this is decidedly an area they will need to provide feedback to me about how I am doing.

I see this as a significant challenge, provided by God. He knows my future and this is an opportunity to learn and grow, and lean on Him more over the next chapter in my life.

-Geek