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Earlier I read a question called How to mentor a Junior Developer and thought about this question.

I worked as a support engineer at a smaller startup in one of my previous employments where I was the second member of our team. It was a stressful job as a lot of stuff was new and we had multiple responsibilities. It was a rewarding experience to be able to help new members to get up to speed. Getting them up to speed mostly meant to bring them to a comfortable level for all day to day operational tasks. Further product related knowledge was imparted to them by relevant teams.

Since this process was being repetitive, we proposed a kind of mutual mentoring system where recent hires who got up to speed with one area would help other recent members come up to speed with other area. This did not work well after some time as the management was not too keen on having new members waste time training others instead of working on tickets right away. Then we adapted to a hands-on working sessions method with seniors having the new members shadow them while they worked on tickets. Once new members understood the nuances of handling the issues, they were assigned tickets with the ticket priority being increased each week or so. This was successful in terms of the knowledge exchange, but proved difficult for the senior members as they were being additionally burdened with their own work loads.

This was viewed as a failure on our part by the management. We wished to have an effective mentoring system to counter the work loads and facilitate better knowledge exchange for the new comers, but we were not able to create a better system.

What approaches would you recommend for setting up mentoring systems for fast paced environments?

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    Note there's also [startups.se] for Startup specific questions, but I think mentoring is a good Workplace topic as well. – Rarity Apr 15 '12 at 22:30
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    I am aware of OnStartups, but I have felt this would be a better place to ask about mentoring. Why I feel so is that I am just one employee of a small team of around 10 and there are around 9 other small teams. So the emphasis of my question was more on the establishing-a-mentoring-system part. – Animesh Apr 15 '12 at 22:39
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Having a great Knowledge Management solution could help solve the problems you've mentioned. Your problem is less about professional mentoring and more about actual job training.

A knowledge management solution could involve an editable Wiki, Google Site, Google Docs, or other platforms where you can document procedures. A good knowledge management ticketing system like Zendesk or a Wordpress theme like nowLedge.

Additionally, some tasks are better described using audio and video. Many organizations are turning to Youtube and video recording software to capture training sessions. Additionally, screen capture software like CamStudio or Captivate may help record activities on the screen for later educational use.

You say much of the training is repetitive. If that is the case, then I agree with senior management. Keep in mind that many startups are on a budget. Every cent counts and must be put towards activities that will pay dividends. Use a combination of these methods to achieve your goals while still avoiding the wastefulness of repetitive tasks.

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