Posts Tagged ‘knowledge transfer’

National Mentoring Month

January 30, 2012

President Obama declared January to be National Mentoring Month.  As a result, mentoring has been highlighted in many ways throughout the month.  I especially appreciated hearing personal success stories from several mentors and mentees during the month.  But, hey, January is almost over!  (How did that happen?)  Mentoring goes on all year – not just in January!  Mentors will continue to share their knowledge and experience to guide and coach others; while mentees will continue to seek out individuals who can contribute to their personal and professional development.  If you’re not in a mentoring relationship now, feel free to contact me to find out how you can get involved as a mentor or mentee – or both.  Don’t wait until next January.  The amount of time and effort is small, but the rewards are great!


Mentors Needed

January 20, 2012

The daughter of one of my friends had wanted to become a nurse ever since she was a little girl.  Upon her college graduation, Lindsey (not her real name) was accepted into the nursing program at a large prestigious hospital.  She recently left after only one year.  My friend says that there was a sink-or-swim attitude among the more experienced nurses at the hospital which made a difficult job even more stressful.  She says that if Lindsey had had a mentor to provide guidance regarding hospital procedures and culture, she might still be there.

Our local newspaper, The Post-Crescent, just featured an editorial regarding the upcoming retirement of baby boomers and the hiring of new employees to replace them.  The potential numbers are huge!  For example, 1/3 of the public school teachers in our local area could retire in the next 10 years.  The editorial suggested mentoring as a way to transfer teaching skills and knowledge to the next generation of teachers with minimal cost.  The article stated that industries around the country could benefit if mentoring was implemented for knowledge transfer.

What about your community and your workplace?  It’s time to establish mentoring programs now – before more valuable people and knowledge are lost!


The “Benefits” of Mentoring

October 23, 2010

As I have traveled around the country over the last few weeks, I have found that organizations continue to do more with less.  (Really no surprise.)  That means people continue to work harder, with fewer resources, to achieve outstanding business results.  Career development options are low; stress is high. 


I was reminded that it’s also that time of the year when employees in many different organizations are making their choices for benefits (if their organization still offers benefits) such as medical, dental, spending accounts, etc.  Many employees are dreading the enrollment time because they know that the portion they are required to pay will take a larger bite out of each paycheck in 2011.  While talking with an HR (Human Resources) professional, I heard another frustration.  “You work hard to provide the best benefits package your company can possibly afford, and employees still aren’t satisfied.” 


How does mentoring fit?  Mentoring is a career development option that can cost the organization little or nothing while providing huge value for employees and the organization.  Individuals are matched with a mentor who can coach, transfer knowledge, broaden one’s network, and raise the level of engagement.  As organizations slog their way out of this recession, mentoring programs make sense!

What’s the Rush?

May 7, 2010

It seems everyone is in a rush, trying to do more/get more in less time.  For example, a current project deadline is still two weeks away, but suddenly they need it now.  Why wait to boot up your computer when you can access an app on your cell phone?  Instead of sending a long, wordy e-mail message, why not text your BFF?  (But not while you’re driving!)  And, speaking of driving, who do you see driving at the speed limit these days?!!

I’ve been working with someone who wants to establish a mentoring program that would rotate mentors and mentees every three months.  Their objective is to get more faster.  However, it takes time to establish a trusting mentoring relationship.  In the current business environment of busyness, pairs of mentors and mentees will hardly have time to meet in three months, much less get to know each other.  If they are truly looking for a mentoring program that will result in personal development, knowledge transfer, and increased social capital – they can’t rush it.  My advice is to build a mentoring program that selectively matches mentors and mentees, one that gives them the necessary time to communicate and build their relationship.  Then, results can be achieved for both the mentee and mentor as well as for the organization.

Brain Drain?

April 16, 2010

Every so often now, we hear bits of data that lead us to hope that this recession is finally beginning to soften.  The data comes to us in the form of lower unemployment numbers, rising stock prices, increased consumer confidence, more housing starts, or even from our own sense that things are starting to turn around. 

On the other hand, I am hearing that some organizations are beginning to fear that an improved economy is going to result in a brain drain.  That is – valued employees will feel that the time has come to leave their current jobs and move to organizations that can offer greater opportunities for advancement, better salary handling, or more positive working conditions.  

One way that organizations can demonstrate that their employees are valued is through mentoring – either by offering a corporate mentoring program or through support of collaborative mentoring with other similar organizations or with community and professional organizations.   

Why wait for a brain drain?  Mentoring offers the opportunity for mentors and mentees to build personal connections, develop leadership skills, and transfer knowledge while strengthening organizational ties.  It just makes good business sense!

Mentoring – Everybody’s Doing It

March 3, 2010

With recovery from the recession, mentoring is reemerging as a vehicle for personal and career development.  Quite literally – people are entering into mentoring relationships as a means to get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future.  And mentoring is one resource they are using to get there.  Mentoring is turning up in more places than ever before – large corporations, small company settings, nonprofit organizations, schools, diversity groups, community services, and more.

While formal mentoring is growing in the United States, it has been a standard in many other countries for some time now.  I recently read about Business Mentors New Zealand, a volunteer mentoring program that was established nearly 20 years ago and continues to grow.  According to the New Zealand Herald, the program has approximately 1,600 mentors who are selected for their interpersonal skill and proven business acumen.   Mentoring – transferring knowledge, skills, and experience!

Why Should I Become a Mentor?

January 19, 2010

Given all of the responsibilities for Mentors that were outlined in last week’s blog post, why would anyone choose to become a Mentor anyway? 

Whether informally mentoring someone or when matched as a Mentor in a formal mentoring program, the two most common reasons that successful people choose to become a Mentor are:

  1. At some point in their life/career, someone reached out and mentored them.  Now, they are at a point in their life or career in which they would like to give back and do that for others.     Or –   
  2. When they were struggling at some point in their career/life, there was no one around to be a Mentor for them. Now, they would like to become a Mentor so they can help others learn from their experience, avoid similar mistakes, and accelerate the learning process.

Other reasons might include:  development of leadership capability, growth of coaching skills, or as part of an established knowledge transfer process.    Whatever the reason, a Mentor should have a passion for helping others as well as the commitment to build and sustain a healthy mentoring relationship.

Capitalize on Experience

December 7, 2009

There are times when an individual would like to explore new or different ideas, resolve a problem, or solicit career advice from someone more experienced.  In his feature for CNN titled, “Learn from the Best: Work with a Mentor”, Mike Tutton urges employees to seize the opportunity to learn from the professional experience of others within their organization.  He reminds us that it’s not just those on “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump who can benefit from experienced advice.  Many organizations offer mentor programs that allow an employee to bond with an experienced mentor to generate new ideas, explore possible solutions for difficult problems, or build on existing competencies. 

Due to economic pressures, some organizations have become so lean, that there is no longer anyone available to provide knowledge transfer or to offer professional advice.  In those cases, the employee must become more creative, seeking mentors from outside the organization. 

If you are searching for a mentor outside of your organization, first consider contacts within your personal network.  Consider people you have met through outside organizations, meetings, or acquaintances.  If you aren’t able to locate a mentor that meets your needs through these means, put technology to work for you.  Find a mentor through the use of social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.  Resources such as these can provide you with access to experienced professionals from all over the world.  Your mentor may only be a few key strokes away!

Finding Your Own Mentor

October 23, 2009

Where corporate mentoring programs do not exist, enterprising employees must seek out their own mentors.  What if you happen to be one of those employees who does not have access to a company mentoring program than can match you to a mentor?  How would you go about finding your own mentor?  Here are some helpful steps to get you started.

First, conduct a self-assessment so you will know what you are looking for in a mentor.   Examine your business and personal goals, along with your strengths and areas for development.  Identify and prioritize where you would most like your mentor to provide help or support.  Next, think about the people in your immediate and extended networks who would be able to meet your identified needs, based on their experience or expertise. 

When approaching a potential mentor, describe exactly what you are looking for, i.e. knowledge transfer, insights, advice, etc.  Be upfront regarding what you would like in terms of the mentor’s time.  (An example might be to meet for an hour lunch, once a month for the next six months.)  Make it easy for your mentor to agree to help you.  If your selected mentor is very busy with many other responsibilities, you will want to be considerate of that and keep your request within workable limits.  

Most people really do want to mentor others – they just need you to ask!

Mentoring: The People Connection

October 20, 2009

I must confess that I only use the “help” function in a computer program as a last resort.  What do I do first?  I ask my good friend, Pete.  He is almost always able to answer my questions and to show me how to resolve issues quickly.  If he doesn’t know the answer, Pete can point me in the right direction so I can easily work it out on my own.   It’s that way for other people and with other kinds of problems too; they would rather go to another person, someone they trust, to ask those difficult questions or to explore options before taking action. 

During these times of uncertainty, employees have an increased need to be connected to other people.  As the economy changes, new business strategies emerge and jobs shift.  People seek out others to gain new insights, participate in knowledge transfer, and expand their network.  Company mentoring programs can provide a structured way for employees to make connections that benefit themselves and the business.