October 09, 2012, 9:28 AM —
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.