Companies experience knowledge erosion when senior team members retire and take their skills and knowledge with them.
So what programs can you put in place now to ensure this doesn’t happen to you?
Mentoring is not only great for increasing engagement, minimizing turnover, and making younger workers feel nurtured and valued, it’s also a powerful knowledge transfer tool. However, most organisations don’t even consider implementing a mentoring program as such.
Why Are Companies Missing the Boat on Knowledge Transfer & Sharing?
Oftentimes, the tools and systems for managing knowledge transfer and sharing are simply not in place. Or—maybe they are—but team members aren’t comfortable using them.
Additionally, many organisations see the cost of acquiring the tools and systems necessary to create effective programs as a hindrance. But preserving knowledge doesn’t have to be expensive. Case in point: a mentoring program can be up to 680 times cheaper than executive coaching and 373 times cheaper than in-person training sessions.
Last but not least, team members may not feel they’re enough of an expert to formally “teach” others. But if companies create a culture in which informally teaching and sharing knowledge with others is valued and expected, then knowledge transfer can become more of a normal, daily practice.
In a recent study, the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) found that more than half of featured organisations reported using mentoring as a way to transfer discipline- or job-specific expertise from one employee to another.
Not only can mentoring be used to share industry-specific and tacit knowledge, it can also be used to:
- Teach hard and soft skills amongst team members
- Help with organisational succession planning, onboarding, and training
Let’s take a closer look at the latter three.
With an effective mentoring program, junior employees will feel and be more prepared to assume more advanced responsibilities. This is because more advanced skills and expertise sharing can be prioritized in pairs in order for mentees to build subject matter expertise in preparation for leadership positions.
While there’s no definitive answer on how long it takes to completely onboard a new employee, it usually takes anywhere from six months to a year for people to feel like they’re adding value.
Mentoring can help get company newbies ready to confidently tackle projects without constant guidance in a shorter span of time.
Using in-house talent via a mentoring program is an effective and lower-cost alternative to more formal ways of training staff, especially for industry or function-specific tacit knowledge.
According to Lauren Trees, principal research lead at APQC:
“Tacit knowledge, which resides in an expert’s head and surfaces in response to a situation or action, can be exchanged most effectively through one-on-one interactions between mentors and mentees who work side by side for a period of time.”Lauren Trees
The Time to Implement a Mentoring Program is Today
Mentoring isn’t just a perk you can offer to employees for your retention or talent attraction strategy, it can also be used as a tool to increase productivity and keep knowledge within the organisation—meaning important company knowledge doesn’t leave when your employees do.
Would you like to run a leadership mentoring program and help build a full leadership pipeline and bullet-proof succession plan at your organisation? We can help with that!