Data Analyst, Hamilton Beach Brands
By The Team at MAXX
Remote work environments and hybrid options are here to stay, and that means the way companies train and mentor employees and new hires must change. Over the last few years, MAXX Potential moved to a fully remote mentorship and apprenticeship model, meaning we can share some of our best tips for remote mentoring to develop great tech talent.
Many employers now offer remote work environments as a way to attract and retain their IT talent. While this option has seen success for established employees, a challenge remains: how can companies succeed at onboarding and mentoring remote hires and entry-level employees?
The answer is both simple and not so simple. Great mentorship and talent development starts at the heart of the company’s culture, and from there, it becomes an integrated structure of clear expectations, one-on-one coaching, exploratory collaboration, and personalized discussion.
According to dictionary.com, mentorship is “the position or services of a wise and trusted counselor or senior sponsor, often in a particular field.”
While apprenticeship connotes more tactile learning, mentorship carries the added responsibility of developing character and soft skills.
Rahim Islam, MAXX Potential Solution Delivery Manager, shares it best. “In my opinion, helping someone get to the answer on their own is better than just handing them the answer. If I can share that problem-solving mindset and way of thinking with an apprentice, it will pay dividends in their career.”
Developed by technologists for technologists, MAXX Potential recognizes that companies not only need qualified individuals to fill tech roles but also candidates with perseverance and heart. Since 2010, we have optimized our in-person and remote mentoring techniques to inspire our apprentices and deliver the results we know our clients need in entry-level IT positions.
Adding a full-time mentoring program to everyday operations is no small task. Strong entry-level talent development starts with a solid structure, whether you’re remote or in-person.
While your entry-level recruit may have experienced video calls, it’s possible that some have not experienced a virtual workplace meeting. You can provide a tip sheet in advance for some virtual meeting etiquette on how to access the meeting and how to prepare (i.e. background, dress, prohibited activities).
As the host, you also have some advance work with preparing your screen-sharing materials, writing a list of questions to guide conversation, and doing a test run before you start.
Mentorship comes in all shapes and styles. Creating the cadence and structure is a two-way conversation where both the mentor and mentee decide what meeting style works best for their ongoing mentorship relationship. While some may prefer a structured meeting style, others may prefer a more conversational approach.
One conversational style of coaching uses the GROW Model, which looks at Goals, Reality, Options, and Will. This model is repeatable with or without a mentor, allowing the mentee to reuse this framework throughout their career.
Unlike a traditional meeting, which is often a relay of information, mentoring prioritizes the two-way conversation where the mentee and mentor share technical problems, career concerns, and professional communication. Conversations can focus on preparing for behavioral interview questions, drafting a professional email, or picking apart a piece of code that didn’t work. It’s easy to assume that a mentorship looks like the mentor only imparting knowledge, but we believe that great mentorship is where we learn from each other.
MAXX Apprentices discover early on that they can speak with their mentors about any scenario from their apprenticeship. With this level of support, apprentices are empowered to navigate tricky professional situations or solve challenging technical problems.
Apprenticeship is about doing, and mentorship supports that development. With the remote mentorship format, apprentices take on more responsibility for their growth and learning than in a more traditional in-person training atmosphere. We encourage apprentices to share their screens and walk their mentor through their problem-solving process.
“Much like apprentices back in the day learned by swinging a hammer or “doing the work”, MAXX Potential Apprentices learn through performing value-adding production tasks for our enterprise customers.” Islam says.
Remote mentorship allows apprentices to learn while on the job with the support of a mentor. From day one, the apprentice’s work delivers value to their team project and personal skill development.
Often entry-level technologists are reluctant to indicate to their employer that they are not grasping the full requirements of the work because they risk appearing unqualified. It is important to establish a safe space for learning and conversation.
From the start at MAXX Potential, mentors are transparent with mentees about their own experiences, even sharing their mistakes and missteps. This breaks the ice and creates a precedent for discussing successes and failures. Every situation offers the opportunity for growth. We act as a confidence buffer for entry-level IT professionals, which leads to more effective learning and improved job skills.
Smart companies understand how crucial talent development is and design a plan for mentorship at every position level. Entry-level IT recruits will carry the future, and a mentoring program that meets their weaknesses and strengths equips them to harness their potential and increase the value they can add for their future employers.
Mentorship and apprenticeship are what MAXX Potential does every day as we help companies fill entry-level openings in their team.
Ready to discover tech talent with MAXX Potential? Contact us for more information.