Every Organization needs to mentor the entry level developers to attain success in their future endeavors. So, if you are the one who is given an opportunity to teach and train your new people then following tips will be good for you.
Not every developer can become a good mentor so if you think you are not up to the task you should straight forward say NO to your employer otherwise you will end up wasting your time and alienating a promising new developer. But if you are up to the task then read the following 7 tips on how to successfully mentor the entry level developers.
1. Mentoring should be your priority
I think the key ingredient in a successful mentoring relationship is giving the relationship priority above anything other than an emergency. It is the inability to give the relationship priority that makes true mentoring scenarios so rare. If you don’t make the mentorship a priority, the new hire quickly senses that she is not important. She also quickly figures out that, when she goes to you for help, she is slowing you down from attending to your “real” priorities. The end result? She doesn’t seek you for help, and she tries to do things on her own. Basically, you’re no longer her mentor.
2. Define a Clear Road map
I’ve seen a number of mentoring programs sink because there is no plan. Someone is hired, and a more experienced developer is assigned to show that person the ropes. The experienced developer wasn’t told about this new mentoring role until 9:05 AM on the new hire’s first day. The would-be mentor takes the new hire on a tour of the building and introduces her to a few other teams — and that’s the extent of “the ropes.” The only thing the new employee usually learns is where to find the kitchen. You need to have a game plan with set goals (for the new hire and the mentor) and a list of topics to cover; otherwise, you’ll both feel lost and give up before you even start.
3. Be tolerant of mistakes
Working with entry-level developers can be frustrating. They are not familiar with writing code in a real-world environment with version control, unit tests, and automated build tools. Also, they may have been taught outdated habits by a professor who last worked on actual code in 1987. Often, entry-level developers do not realize that the way they were taught to approach a problem may not be the only choice. But if your reaction to mistakes is to treat the developer like she is stupid or to blame (even if she is being stupid or is truly at fault), she probably won’t respond well and won’t be working with you much longer.
4. Assign appropriate projects
One of the worst things you can do is to throw an entry-level programmer at an extremely complex project and expect her to “sink or swim.” Chances are, the programmer will sink; even worse, the programmer will add this project to her resume, and then she will run out of there as fast as she can just to get away from you. On the other hand, don’t create busywork for the programmer; let her work on nagging issues in current products or internal projects that you never seem to have time to address. Once you gain confidence about what the programmer can accomplish, then you can assign a more difficult project.
5. Give and accept feedback
You can’t successfully navigate a ship in the middle of an ocean without a compass. Likewise, the new employee will not achieve her goal of becoming a productive member of the team without knowing where she has been and where she is going. This means you need to give feedback on a regular basis, and the feedback needs to be appropriate. For instance, being sarcastic to someone who made an honest mistake is not helpful. Feedback has to be a two-way street as well; you need to be listening to them to find out what their concerns and questions are, and address them.
6. Listen to the new employee’s ideas
Entry-level developers have a lot less built-in prejudices and biases than experienced developers. Sometimes the saying “out of the mouths of babes” really applies. A number of times in my career, I’ve seen a less-experienced employee point out an obvious answer that all of the more experienced employees overlooked. When you treat a new hire as a peer, it raises their confidence and makes them feel like part of the team.
7. Treat the developer with respect
Just because someone is entry-level, it doesn’t mean that her job is to refill your coffee or pick up your lunch. She isn’t rushing a sorority — she’s trying to break into the development business. If you disrespect the developer, she might leave or go to HR about your behavior (and maybe still leave).
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