I am the only remote member of my 12-person team, and am also one of the most senior. We would all benefit if I could help to mentor some of the more-junior team members, but am not sure how to best structure that given our geographic distribution.
When I've mentored people in the past it's been pretty causal, and being able to just walk up and talk with the other person -- look over a shoulder to help solve a problem, stand at a whiteboard to sketch out a design, overhear something and stop by to chat, etc -- has been a big part of it. We also had regular meetings, which obviously works remotely too, but I'd like to find a way to provide the more day-to-day mentoring too, as needed. Mentoring focuses on the technical skills that are part of the job, but I believe that helping people with "soft skills" is also an important part of mentoring. (Sometimes the problem isn't really the bug but the way you're trying to get help from another team, for example.)
We have the following tools available:
- IM (easy and widely-used)
- phone calls/video calls, but the people at both ends have to move to conference rooms because nobody has private offices
- email (of course) and wiki
- source-control logs
- in-person visits a couple times a year
What techniques can I use to be an effective mentor for remote team members? We are all in the same time zone.
I'm aware of this question, but that one is more about peer relations in general while I'm asking about ways to provide guidance from afar.