The most careful part to navigate…

The part of mentoring that I find to be the part that needs to be most carefully navigated is working with less experienced admins when they make mistakes. I find it important to remember when I was in that phase and approach it as a learning experience.

This morning I assisted one admin who made a mistake during or maintenance weekend. It’s the classic situation – needed to restart some components and restarted something that ought not to have been (a component that holds a lot of data in memory, so restarting eliminates it.) My involvement was when this admin was seeking to determine if it caused any problem and, if so, how to go about informing the necessary people to fix it.

It turned out that the system in question, with which I had considerable familiarity, has scripts to automatically reload the data after a restart so it wasn’t an issue and ended at that step. I did tell him that he was approaching it in exactly the right way – own the mistake and do what needs to be done to fix it.

I often tell my admins that if you never make mistakes then you’re likely not really doing anything. The onus on people in positions such as mine is to back those words with appropriate actions. This includes situations as the above and, sometimes, using my own mistakes as an example of how to handle when you screw-up.

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