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I am a fairly senior member of the information security team at my company. Due to my previous experience, I have been asked by my manager to help mentor / train some of the more more junior members of the team.

In general, these team members are smart, diligent, and highly motivated, which is great. However, I have noticed on several occasions these team members are not often well-informed of important events outside of IT or even within IT outside of our team, that strongly affects our team. I strongly believe that having a better awareness of events occurring outside of our immediate team, enabling greater understanding of internal end user needs would be very helpful. Being able to establish strong rapport with non-technical business users had been helpful on numerous occasions when obtaining buy - in etc. In addition, security often has a unfortunate reputation as the "department of no", so being able to relate to users is important.

I don't want these team members to spend any time off work if at all possible. I also do not want to involve management at this point as I feel its simply too early. A personal approach is preferred.

Question

What strategies can I use to help more junior end users be more aware of the bigger picture and what's occurring in the company?

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    What are the actual mechanisms for them to be aware of what's going on outside the team? – Gregory Currie Mar 19 at 5:22
  • Note that, what feels helpful and important to you as a senior to do your job isn't necessarily for juniors. Seniors typically have a lot more high level tasks that require coordination with other departments etc while juniors often get projects that are smaller in size and more confined in scope. They often get their tasks from within the team not without requiring outside contact to solve them. It might be different in your situation or hold some value if they get to know their surroundings a bit better anyway, but don't be surprised if they consider it (potentially rightfully) time-wasting. – Frank Hopkins Mar 20 at 1:12
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There are 2 angles from which to look at the problem.

What can they do

  • have initiative to be up-to-date with information;
  • search the web for info;
  • study, learn;
  • share information within the team;
  • read, study, learn any information provided internally (by the "company" - whoever in the company would provide that).

Now, we get to the second part:

What can you do

  • help them find the right / better information faster;

How?

  • provide links to useful sites / articles;
  • provide local documents for study (pdf, html, whatever);
  • engage them in discussions on the different topics;
  • play "role-games": somebody is the customer and somebody else is the "internal guy" (you can be one of them); focus the game on the topic you want; allow for divagations, if learning can still occur;
  • analyze real-life situations (current, or post-mortem); provide real data from the situation; use situations which ended well, also situations which did not end in a pleasant way;

You already mentioned that your colleagues are good guys, for their "more junior" level. They just need guidance. Create a repository which they can use to study.

I don't want these team members to spend any time off work if at all possible.

I am not sure what you mean, but learning is work. Sometimes, it is very hard work. Learning is training, and companies usually spend good money on that. If you can do it internally, you get the trainings without the money-spending -> extra benefit.

  • I think OP means he doesn't want the junior employees to have to study outside of working hours. – Kat Mar 19 at 15:04
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What strategies can I use to help more junior end users be more aware of the bigger picture and whats occurring in the company?

The "what's occurring" part is relatively easy: You send a regular (weekly?) email listing the important items, and have a sentence or two summary, or a link to a resource with more info. If you're all in the same place, you could have a weekly 10 minute meeting (in addition to or instead of the meeting) with the team where you present that same info, allowing for questions and discussions. If you want to expose your team to new technical ideas, maybe arrange for a "lunch-and-learn", where folks bring their lunch and you play the video of an interesting technical presentation (see if you can get the company to pay for lunch, you'll get better attendance).

The "big picture" part is harder. If you want your team to "establish strong rapport with non - technical" folks, the best way is to put everyone in contact. Maybe hold a series of "talks" where the non-technical folks describe what they do, how they do it, etc. Maybe you can arrange for the members of your team to "shadow" some of these people for an hour or two during the day. This, of course, will require the other teams to agree to help you out, which will be a bit harder to pull off.

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