The proper management of knowledge, or Knowledge Management (KM), is key to an efficient and successful organization.
But what exactly is Knowledge Management and what does it have to do with mentoring? According to the Gartner Group, KM is defined as “a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers."
Among the various KM tools, mentoring is often the least explored. Even so, it is the one tool that if managed properly and consistently will mean the difference between a successful KM initiative and an unsuccessful one. By implementing an effective mentorship program, you will have a vehicle to drive the sharing of expertise and experience across all departments and employees in your organization. As a tool of KM, mentoring brings several advantages to an organization:
Awareness about the company and values
An organization is defined by its mission, values, and internal dynamics. All employees, both new and seasoned, should be aware of these organizational elements and be able to identify with them. A mentor’s role is to introduce key values to junior employees, thus equipping them with the knowledge they’ll need to become an important resource for the organization.
KM—and mentoring in particular—is not only about sharing organizational knowledge, but also self-knowledge. Employees who develop self-awareness and continue to develop their knowledge and skills are better equipped to deal with the anxieties that come with taking on new responsibilities and learning new tasks. Mentors can help mentees become confident and self-aware by passing on tools and advice that have helped them find success. This exchange of knowledge will ensure that mentees are less fearful and more eager and enthusiastic when it comes to taking on new tasks.
A strong mentoring program ensures that learning happens at its most effective and constructive. The mentor/mentee relationship is a clearly defined process that is carried out step-by-step. It manages the challenges of learning as they come, such as dealing with behavioral changes and the ups and downs of the workplace. A mentor who is knowledgeable about how to manage the learning process through the mentee program will make it a simpler and more productive process.
Well-run organizations have established networks designed to connect both internal and external members of the organization. Junior employees have a clear path of communication to all levels of management, and senior employees have access to a network of external contacts with whom they conduct business. In order to gain the highest benefit from this networking, it needs to be passed on and shared. It needs to be part of KM. A mentor facilitates this by inviting a mentee into the organizational network and introducing him/her to its different aspects and functions. A mentor ensures that the mentee understands the complexities and opportunities that networking and inter-connecting offers. In turn, a mentee is able to share the networking knowledge they’ve gained with others.
The most valuable advantage of practicing mentoring in KM is that it motivates people to stick around. As employees work with mentors to gain knowledge about the organization’s ethics and values, mission and internal dynamics, they relate to and become part of the organization in a way that never would have been possible otherwise. An unavoidable aspect of KM is that knowledge is lost when an employee leaves an organization. Thus, part of a mentor’s job is to work within the grey areas, helping a mentee identify areas of concern and resolve any issues that might cause an employee to leave.
A mentor is a proverbial sea of knowledge. Leveraging their experience and expertise to develop your team will not only strengthen knowledge sharing within your organization, but it will also bolster all of the other elements of a successful KM program. Contact MentorCloud for more on how your organization can incorporate mentoring into your KM program.
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