Posted by: Jay Dugan
knowledge transfer, peer mentoring, Teach What You Know
I remember the first day of my first job in IT. I was handed a policy manual and a sheet of instructions for using the phone system. I was shown to my desk and that was it. I was excited about the new job but there were many things that I didn’t know about the job and the company I came to work for. I eventually found someone who had been there for a while to help me find my way around and answer some questions but it took weeks for me to get up to speed. I am sure that others have experienced something similar. Most small businesses are not equipped to provide a formal orientation and even some medium size companies see orientations as unproductive time. Besides, if the new recruit is worth their salt, they will figure it out on their own, right?
I was lucky but things might have been different if I had not found a good peer mentor. Steve Trautman presents a practical approach to peer mentoring in his book Teach What You Know. He developed his program while working at Microsoft and had a similar experience to mine on his first day. Later he was able to build what he learned into a successful consulting business. The book is a practical guide to passing on what you know to others in a structured, efficient way. He begins with clarifying roles and expectations and then moves into organizing lesson plans that give apprentices what they need to learn and offers helpful ways to explain the “big picture.”
Teach What You Know is a great read for IT managers involved with technical training and knowledge transfer.