We all know that teaching others is a time honored activity. Parents teach their children about the world. Master craftsmen teach their apprentices the tools, tricks, and techniques of the trade. Many athletes become coaches and many technologists often mentor new, less experienced, members of the profession.
As you may expect, this training is of great value to those being trained; the children, the apprentices, the young athletes, and less seasoned techies. What is the true value to the teacher? The answer to this question is the thrust of my topic.
Teaching others in the workplace, as either a professional instructor or as a helpful mentor is in many ways more valuable to the teacher than to the student. I believe that most IT professionals would agree, that in the workplace, we should all help, mentor, and guide those with less experience than ourselves. After all, it’s good for the company and it’s the right thing for us to do as human beings. That said, teaching your technical skills to others also has the following personal advantages:
1. The people you teach will become your internal company supports 2. It expands your knowledge of the topic 3. Helps to position you as a thought leader within the company 4. Helps you define a very positive professional brand 5. Helps maximize your value to the company
The reason that the people you teach will become your internal supporters is: • You have personally taken the time to help and/or mentor fellow techies. This type of kindness is generally greatly appreciated. • You will be viewed as an internal expert and thought leader. This type of reputation brings respect, which will help you create a personal following within the company. • If you helped someone once, you will most likely be willing to help them again. That said, they will hope you are successful and do well within the company in case they need your assistance again at a future time.
The reason that it expands your knowledge of the topic is: • When you teach/explain something you know to someone it makes you put your thoughts into words. These mental gymnastics make you think more deeply about the topic. • When you teach/explain something you know to someone, you actually listen to what you are saying, which reinforces your knowledge of the topic. • Student questions very often cause you to think about the topic from different perspectives which can provide a previously unforeseen understanding of the topic. • Student questions and/or preparation for your instruction may cause you to do additional research on the topic, therefore, learning new things you may have not otherwise come to know.
The reason that it helps you to position yourself as a thought leader within the company is: • You become known internally as a person who deeply understands a specific topic and as a result, has the answers to important questions. • You become viewed as a person who is willing to share his/her knowledge.
The reason it helps you define a very positive professional brand is: • From #1, teaching/helping/mentoring others help you create internal company contacts that you can call to ask a favor as the need arises. This ability allows you to get things done internally that others within the company, without your contacts, may not be able to move forward. Therefore, you gain the reputation as a person who knows how to get things done within the company. • From #2, you are deepening your knowledge in your area of expertise. The more you learn the better position you are in to share your expanded knowledge and build your personal brand as an internal expert. • From #3, being viewed as an internal thought leader, that is to say, not only knowledgeable, but willing to share it and help/teach others is a great reputation to have. This combination can make you the “go to person” inside the company on a specific technology. Then, as the “go to person”, the more people that come to you for help, the more your reputation and personal brand will grow.
The reason it helps maximize your value to the company is: • You are helping others within the company get their work done. • You are helping grow the overall technical knowledge within the company. • Because of your internal contacts you have the ability to get things done that others within the company cannot seem to complete.
In closing, teaching, helping, and mentoring others in the company is great for you personally, for those you help, and your company in general. That said, next time someone in your company asks for your assistance, please do so and in the long run, the person you may be helping most is yourself.
Taking these classes will not only provide you with insights that will help you professionally, it will also enhance your resume and help you get that next interview.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.