Is there anything better than spotting someone relatively inexperienced but smart, driven, and generally awesome, and helping them along in their career? I think it’s one of the most rewarding things about managing (second only to having the power to make things run well rather than your department or organization being at the mercy of some crappy manager).
If you have someone great but inexperienced on your staff, consider taking them under your wing and helping them attain professional greatness. Here are some ways to do it:
* Invite them to sit in while you do things — interviews, important meetings, whatever. Talk to them afterward about how it went and even point out why you did particular things.
* Talk to them about dilemmas you’re facing in your own job. Tell them the options you’re considering, the various factors you have to take into consideration, what you’re deciding, and why. Ask what they would do. This is huge, because it helps hone their own instincts. If you only do one thing, do this.
* Give them an intern to manage. Talk to them regularly about the management challenges that arise and how to handle them, everything from feeling comfortable being in a position of authority to addressing sloppy work to what to say when the intern shows up in flip flops.
* Give them greater and greater responsibilities. Give them things they’re not sure they can handle, and talk them through it. Help them figure out their approach, and talk over how it went afterward.
* Talk to them directly about their goals. Actively look for ways you can help them move toward them.
* Give them the confidence to take on more by making sure you tell them how great they are. Early in their career, they tend to think they’re average. Help them recognize when they’re capable of more.
* When the time is right, promote them.