Here’s a list of things I’m learning while helping people, during 1-1 technical meetings.
Start by expliciting interaction rules
At the beginning of the session, ask the person how they would like to interact:
- should you let them search for a while and only be there when they have a question?
- should you give a few pointers and let them figure out?
- should you give them the answers then help them work backward?
There’s not one valid way of delivering information to someone. The mentor has an obligation to adapt to the mentee.
Modalities > Generalities.
When defining how you should help, always work towards actionable modalities.
I’d like you not to be like a teacher.
This is super difficult to know what to do since there are million ways of being a teacher.
I’d like you to let me formulate each problem, then let me work on each for a few minutes, and let me ask questions if I need to.
If the mentee don’t have any ideas about modalities, suggests some to help them pick their favorite.
The mentor responsibilities
It is the mentor responsibility to create this space where everyone knows how to interact with each other. Explicit > implicit. Otherwise, you’re putting the mental load of interaction on the shoulder of someone who’s already here to get help. Some will feel confortable asking you a lot of things, owning the space. Some will not and they won’t get a great experience.
Also, you will learn less as a mentor if you don’t create this space.
Drop the knowledgable attitude, this is not about you delivering your knowledge. It’s about the mentee learning things.