Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The value of mentoring programs in KM - quantified story number 129

Mentoring is a valuable component of KM when it comes to onboarding new staff. A recent article tells us just how valuable it is. 

Image from wikimedia commons
The article is entitled "The secrets of leveling up junior employees", is written by Miriam Kharbat, and it deals with the software industry (but is applicable to other industries as well. Miriam describes the value of mentorship in transferring knowledge to new staff, and makes the following points:

  • Mentorship can be beneficial for both parties Miriam quotes a  2006 Sun Microsystems study which found that mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the program, and mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program. 
  • They also found that retention rates were 72% higher for mentees and 69% higher for mentors than for employees who did not participate in the mentoring program.
  • Start mentorship by giving the junior staff real tasks. Miriam describes asking new staff to download the source code, run it on their local machine and update any dead links or new issues to the knowledge base or ReadMe file.
  • Listen carefully, explain simply, and beware of the curse of knowledge.
  • Teach them where to look for, and ask for, answers. Show them the knowledge base and get them into the community of practice. 
  • Conduct reviews of real work. Miriam suggests code reviews, and says that "Code reviews can be an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing. They are a great way to teach best practices and good programming patterns. During a code review, ask questions and suggest alternatives. If you think something is not correctly implemented, explain why you think your way is better. Learn to understand the difference between personal preference and essential changes."
  • Let the mentee drive the schedule of mentorship, but if you haven't heard from them in a while, check in to see if everything is OK. 

Mentoring new staff, as a component of the KM framework, therefore not only benefits the organisation by getting new staff up to speed quickly, it also benefits the mentor and the mentee as well. 

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