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Mentoring a subordinate

As a system administrator yourself you should consider entering into a mentoring relationship with one of the first level support people at your organization. The system administrator at my first level support job taking on a mentoring role with me. It started off with small things, such as monitoring backups, but within a couple of months I was nominally responsible for the organization’s Windows NT4 Servers. Several years later when I was the system administrator at another company, I mirrored my mentor’s actions, taking on a mentoring role with one of the first level support techs there.
 There are benefits both way to mentoring a subordinate. Your subordinate will be happy because they’ll feel that their career is progressing. The benefit to you is that you will be able to delegate some time intensive, low complexity tasks away from yourself, leaving you more time to concentrate on more interesting high complexity sysadmin tasks.
 Prior to entering a mentoring relationship, you should run the idea past your manager. Some managers may resist the idea. One way of selling it is to suggest that by training the subordinate, it will allow some sysadmin tasks to be completed if you have a sick day or take some leave. Most managers are happy to support this idea because they get the benefit of having staff trained in house at no extra cost. It also can provide an important morale boost to the first level support staff. To them, being selected for mentoring indicates that they are seen as someone who does have what it takes to progress in the IT industry.
A drawback to mentoring a subordinate is that if you have multiple subordinates, the ones that aren’t getting mentored might feel resentful. To ameliorate this, you could rotate mentoring  amongst the subordinates. Alternatively, have your manager make the selection or make the selection based on who has been with the company the longest.
Mentoring is a very rewarding process. It can strengthen the sense of teamwork within the IT support unit.  It can also help you shed some of those tedious tasks you have to complete each day so that you can get on with the interesting stuff.

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