Seven Steps for Helping Geeks Grow: Page 4

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6) Have a real mentoring program. You can’t have the same geek in the same chair for a decade. They will go feral or get bored and leave. The only way to retain their IP (despite what software vendors tell you) is to have them pass it on to understudies. This requires management support, a managed program, mentor and mentee education, time allocated, effectiveness monitoring, and reward and recognition.

7) Finally, make the best of the ones who just don’t get it. Some geeks are beyond remediation. Eventually they will become so embittered or lazy or openly contemptuous that you will have to fire them, but with careful management you can still get a long period of productivity from them first. Keep them technically challenged. Give them toys to play with.

But reward delivery of results. Slap down prima-donna behavior. Try not to let them get the wagons in a circle: don’t let a geek clique form. They must respect customers and management, or at least behave like they do. If you are fortunate enough to employ the happy, well-adjusted geek, content to potter away for ever, committed to customer satisfaction, focused on results, then treasure them. We will discuss the care and feeding of geeks in more detail another time.

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