Training versus mentoring: You need two in a canoe

True mentoring, getting your feet wet, helps those around you and their projects succeed. Training might be only as effective as shouting instructions to a wayward canoe from the shore.

06/28/2013


A friend of mine teaches canoe lessons, and we were talking about how he helps his students. Regardless of the level of skill or difficulty of the surroundings, the answer is invariably, “I get in the canoe, or at least get in a canoe right next to the student, and teach how to paddle.”

This makes sense, and it works. If I imagine a person standing on the banks of a river shouting: “More LEFT! Paddle to your LEFT!” it makes me wince and seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

Why then, should this be any different when at work? Assigning Joe to “Help mentor Frank; just check in with him once in a while,” is a terrible idea. Joe isn’t embedded, he’s not invested, he’s not in the lake, and he’s not getting wet. If there is a waterfall coming, Joe won’t feel any pain as Frank’s canoe goes over. Frank, in turn, feels abandoned and left to paddle alone. He might make it eventually, but regardless, he has the opportunity to feel stupid as Joe shouts at him from the shore.

Training is good, and often the first step, giving someone the on-land overview of the boat and the paddle. To be honest, it’s unrealistic to think that after a little on-shore training, someone can then jump in canoe, shove off, and quickly and efficiently get to a destination, especially in choppy water. True mentoring is the only way those around you, and, in turn, your projects, succeed.

Take responsibility for the boat and the people in it. Make sure you are vested and that, if things sink, you will sink (and learn) with the team. That investment is the only way to really make a difference and get to success.

- This blog aggregates expert advice from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration. This blog provides integration advice in plant-floor controls, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and manufacturing consulting, from the factory floor through to the enterprise. Andrew Barker, P.Eng., Callisto Integration, compiled the advice. www.callistointegration.com 



Tisha , MI, United States, 07/30/13 09:42 PM:

Absolutely. My biggest struggle as a junior engineer is efficiency. All of my best strengths were developed by great mentorship. Unfortunately, aside from my co-op in college, it's been sink or swim. No training and no in house mentorship.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Big plans for small nuclear reactors: Simpler, safer control designs; Smarter manufacturing; Industrial cloud; Mobile HMI; Controls convergence
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.