Knowledge Transfer Through Mentoring

Developing Strategies to Facilitate Knowledge Transfer Through Mentoring

Knowledge transfer is not just a business efficiency problem - it also impacts recruitment and retention.

“We learned, for example, that knowledge workers perceive a mentor-driven, employee training and development program as a way that their organizations value them,” Panopto co-founder Eric Burns says.

Not only the loss of specialized knowledge when employees depart, impacts all companies. Also there are other sound business reasons for implementing a knowledge transfer strategy. Knowledge sharing is an effective method for supplementing corporate training and on boarding efforts. Having a strategy for capturing the knowledge of key employees is an efficient way to supplement more structured corporate training that may not be able to keep up fast enough with the way business is changing. In today’s competitive business climate, it behooves companies of all sizes to develop a strategy to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Some obstacles to facilitating knowledge sharing:

  1. Tools. The company may not have the appropriate tools to facilitate knowledge sharing, or employees may not have the confidence to use the technology that exists. The reality is that preserving organizational knowledge does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as recording a meeting or capturing a screen share.
  2. Employees don’t fancy themselves as experts or believe what they do is important enough to share with others. To combat this, companies must create a corporate culture mindset where informally teaching and sharing knowledge with others is valued and expected. Transferring knowledge should be considered a normal daily practice and all employees—from the leadership level on down—should be encouraged to do it.
  3. There is a lingering perception that preserving knowledge is expensive. This is especially true in regard to video preservation, which many believe requires highly polished content. This is untrue ... production values do not need to be professional grade. Most employees today have mobile phones and laptops with webcam capabilities, making it easy and cost-effective for them to use video to capture and preserve their unique knowledge.

Tips to facilitate knowledge transfer:

Here are some tips for companies interested in fostering knowledge sharing:

  • Knowledge sharing should be part of a larger ecosystem that includes an effective learning management system and solid information architecture design.
  • Coach content creators to keep their pieces short and simple.
  • Encourage employees, especially those who are shy about sharing their knowledge, to gain confidence by collaboratively co-authoring content.
  • Prevent the system from becoming a disorganized dumping ground by creating storage repositories that are intuitive and searchable.
  • Designate an individual or a team to act as stewards of specific content repositories.
  • To encourage the practice of knowledge transfer across the organization, recognize and reward employees who do it effectively.

 

Mentoring, is commonly used to describe a KT and learning process in which an existing staff member or an external one guides new comers or less-experienced people in a task and helps to develop professional skills, attitudes and competencies (Johnson and Ridley, 2008; Edelkraut and Graf, 2011). Mentoring can help improve productivity, reduce employee frustration, preserve organizational knowledge, and improve the bottom line.

According to organizations using mentoring, social media can be used for communication with mentors and monitoring bringing also other advantages. The use of social media support social learning; forums, blogs, virtual market places, extend face-toface traditional mentoring allowing mentoring to take place over distance and in different time periods.

Relationships within mentoring processes are often divided in informal and formal ones:

Informal mentoring is created spontaneously or is initiated by special interest i.e. when the mentee could be a potential employee. An informal mentoring relation can be required by a mentee who approaches a mentor for his/her intentions.

Some advantages are a relationship of trust and respect between the partners, high degree of compatibility and cooperation and flexibility of the relation. This kind of relationship has a risk of ambiguity and tension when it becomes too intensive and there are rare possibility to be applied to groups. The most used form of learning in this context is an informal one. Social networks support this type of mentoring.

Formal mentoring is often facilitated and supported by the organisation which makes also tools available to participants for an efficient process. Aspects as the difficulties by paring with the risk of poor one and less flexibility of relationships between mentor and mentees and of the mentoring process are disadvantages.

Formal mentoring relationships are more suitable for using e-Learning and Web-based systems can support formal mentoring. The type of appropriate mentoring for an organisation depends on its business and qualification needs, on the needs of mentees. The success will depend on whether the parties involved in the mentoring process have the skills required and if the context of the organisation is supportive.