August 28, 2012, 2:59 PM — Spring and summer school sessions have ended, and, if you're like a number of organizations around the globe, you have a giant pile of resumes and just a handful of openings for some fresh faces to join your firm at the bottom rungs of the corporate ladder. Hiring the right person is a difficult process, but managing the new employees--or, let's be honest, managing any employee--is even more challenging. Nobody sets out to be a bad manager, but that transformation can happen over time if your policies and your behavior are left unchecked.
It doesn't have to be that way. Indeed, there are a few concepts that are central to being a good manager to junior IT professionals who are eager to make their mark. Let's take a look at some of the most important tenets to managing junior administrators--and, really, anyone who is your direct report.
Allow People to Fail.
Failure should be welcomed, particularly in junior roles. Otherwise, there is no room for growth.
We're all attuned to avoid failure. It seems like it's basic human nature to steer clear of making mistakes and causing disappointment. However, to write off failure as simply a wrong to be avoided ignores the basic principle of professional growth--by making mistakes, causing a problem and enrolling ourselves in the process of rectifying that problem, we grow, learn and mature in our careers.
Failure is downright scary at higher levels; with more responsibility and more access, more can go wrong. Limiting a junior administrator to a couple of organizational units in Active Directory or a single department's set of computers to upgrade to Windows 7, on the other hand, allows for freedom to expand, learn, and fill out holes in knowledge and experience. Plus, what's the worst that can happen--your upgrade is delayed by a couple of days and you need to reimage 50 machines you were already imaging anyway? Let people fall into a trampoline of sorts that bounces them back up to where they were with the knowledge and experience they gained on the way down.
Remember the old adage: Give people just enough rope to hang themselves and see what happens. Your juniors will appreciate that they're able to deal real tasks with real impact--and they'll know you're right behind them to course-correct when necessary, but also to allow them to develop their potential as administrators in their own right.
Explain the Reasoning Behind Decisions and, Ultimately, Processes.