Mentorship – Retaining organisational knowledge and unlocking experience

Mentoring and coaching is a learning intervention that supports formal learning and development. The mentees through a structured relationship, based on guidance, advice and support, is developed in a practical way to achieve their development goals. For the organisation mentorship programmes have a long lasting impact when managed in a sustainable manner, this meaning that a defined period is allocated to the mentorship programme and that a second programme gets launched for the people that were not maybe selected to be on the first programme.

The benefits of a mentorship programme achieve outcomes at many different levels; for the organisation, naturally for the beneficiaries of the programme the mentees and of course for the mentors as well. One of the clear benefits of the organisation is retaining organisational knowledge and process efficiencies in a business environment where people are becoming more “flexible” in their careers and tend to move job more regularly. This movement of staff and the knowledge and capabilities that go with them becomes a crippling process for business to deal with. The mentorship process needs to continually focus on these critical areas and is a key output of their mentorship programme goals.

The other critical area of successful mentorship programmes is the unlocking of skills and process capabilities of experienced staff to new staff to ensure the  efficiency strategies are reached sooner than later.

Some of the important hurdles that business faces with maintaining a mentorship programme are that some of the well-intended goals of the programme get zero rated in importance once operational deliverables and old management cultural techniques take a higher priority. The sustainability of the mentorship programme needs to be carefully managed by the programme champion. In certain cases the programme will be creating an expectation of supportive management while the culture of the organisation is still “command and control” in its manner of management execution. These divergent management approaches need to be well managed as the Mentorship Programme can also contribute to a change in the management culture.

The solution in sustaining a Mentorship Programme in an organisation is to understand it as a change management intervention and that it will in some cases will be part of the catalyst in changing the organisation and the people involved in the programme.

To achieve the critical outcomes of the Mentorship Programme of retaining critical knowledge in the organisation and unlocking experience and sharing that best practice with emerging talented employees , the Mentorship Programme needs to be aligned with talent and people development strategies as well as changes in management culture and the way things get done.

Written by

Senior Associate @Balanced Scorecard Institute Lead Coach @ PMI Africa