looking for a sys admin

Brandon Stout bms at mscis.org
Wed Dec 9 15:49:55 MST 2009

On 12/08/2009 10:51 AM, Steven Alligood wrote:

> Why should the rest of the team have to carry a poor performer?

The rest of the team doesn't.  Only the mentor does.  The rest of the
team can help motivate, but the members chiefly worry about their own
roles, and there's only one mentor per team.  He or she worries about

> A mentor's role is to make sure the rest of the team learns, grows,
> and can do their jobs.  If one person continually causes the rest of
> the team to have to work more and do that person's job, then the team
> is better off without that poor performer.
> I am not talking about junior people that just haven't had the time to
> learn, or even the new guy.  I am talking about the guy that has been
> there for enough time to learn, and still never carries his own
> weight.  I don't care what a mentor is "supposed" to do; that person
> needs to go, and the team is better off without them.
> "Quality mentoring" is helping those who wish to be helped and can
> make a difference to the team.  Trying to mentor those who cannot or
> will not learn is wasting both your and the company's time and money. 
> A strong team comes from working hard with those who will also work
> hard, expecting a high level of quality, and treating professionals as
> professionals.
> -Steve

There may be a point when this is true, but for me, people come first,
and this still has business sense because there is also cost in training
someone from scratch again.  If you can get a poor performer, even one
with a history, to do better, you save the company money.  But more
importantly, you win a loyal fan, and you have accomplished something
important.  I've been a mentor at more than one place.  I've seen it
work.  I've even taken on someone that others couldn't get to improve,
and helped that person to do quite well, even earning some awards later
on.  I fortunately was never responsible for hiring and firing, so
firing never went through my head.  My job was to improve his
performance or others would fire him.  I didn't think to myself, "well,
if he fails, it isn't my fault".  I thought "if he fails, then I will
have missed something I could have done".  It was about improvement for
myself, not about blaming the other.  That's how everyone self
improves.  I got him to see his own need for self improvement, and
that's part of what made the difference.  I saved his job, and he knew
it.  I also, less importantly, saved the company money.  I suppose I
stick to this point because I've seen it work personally, when I had a
role as a mentor, but I acknowledge there may be a point to let someone
go.  Hopefully the one in a mentoring role doesn't make that decision.

I'm stuck in a place where I'm less experienced with system
administration than many of you.  My masters degree was in IT
management.  I got my degree at a university that uses almost
exclusively Microsoft products.  I am self trained in Free Software and
Open Source products.  I used them when everyone else at the university
was using all Microsoft.  I had hoped that I might start in working
management, where I have done well in the past.  Unfortunately, I have
found that most jobs do not hire directly into management, and so I've
had to learn what many of you learned in your BS degrees or even in high
school.  I think my high school had a couple 386 computers when I was
there, Linus was thinking about a kernel, and Minix was waiting for
it...  Sometimes I wish I had done a different MS degree since it seems
to have no bearing at all on anything.

I hope I have not given the impression that I need a mentor to bend over
backward for me.  I don't.  I have said what I have said about mentoring
because of my own experience when mentoring.  I'm behind some of you
because I've had less experience and training, but I'll be responsible
in my learning role as I was in my mentoring role.  I didn't take notes
at one particular job, thinking I knew enough.  Former co-workers may
well be nodding their heads now.  I learned that I should have done so. 
I had a lot on my mind then, while my wife was fighting cancer.  I'm
past that point now, and back on my feet.  I've got my notepads ready.

So, I've written something long enough it could have been a blog post. 
I could have put it up there, you are all my friends, so I'm sharing
this with each of you.  Thank you all for listening... or reading anyway...

Ok, I'll shut up now... maybe... :)


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