Friday, March 11, 2011

Mentoring Programs who do They Benefit and How can they work Better?

Mentoring programs seem to be coming of age in the corporate world and other places such as public and private school systems. Who do these programs benefit? While I was a grad student one of my group projects was to find a way to capture tacit knowledge and find an organization who is doing this. We found through research that mentoring was a perfect way to capture such knowledge. We also found a Middle school who was in the 2nd year of their mentoring program and that it was not working out the way they wanted. So we took them on.

We found that if the teachers had more time together the program would work much better. So we solved that problem by suggesting that all mentors and mentees set aside one hour a week to meet in person at a coffee shop or some other location for coffee and to discuss problems and solutions, and then we also set up a system where the mentees were able to email their mentors with problems or questions they might have. Then they saved all the correspondents between parties and compiled a notebook which was past onto the next set of mentors and mentees.

This mentor program along with others I have researched benefits all parties involved, the reason being that everyone brings some type of knowledge to the table which is then shared. We found a big challenge for the mentors in this school was the technology component. The younger teachers assisted by teaching their mentors computer programs and other ways to make the technology work for them. The mentees were having problems such as unruly students or having problems getting parents involved, the mentors helped in those areas, this program ended up benefiting even the school itself by building better teachers all around. I believe this is true for the corporate environment too. Sharing tacit knowledge especially helps lower costs of training newbees.

Debunking 10 Talent Management Myths

Talent management is still an emerging field, and there are as many untruths floating around the industry as there are verifiable facts. To advance the profession and reap the organizational benefits therein, it is necessary to weed out dated myths and adopt new perspectives.

As we look to the future of talent management, it is important to examine concerns and issues, including common myths about talent and succession management that may be limiting, and provide new ways of thinking through these issues and moving forward with best practice ideas.

Talent Management Myths and Truths

Myth 1: We should invest most of our talent acquisition budget into external recruiting functions. Most mid- to large-sized organizations spend large sums of money to have full-time recruiters on staff to fill positions, have a staffing management system, a Web site to attract external candidates, and pay recruiting fees to external firms.

A new perspective: While it is certainly important to acquire new talent for the organization, what would happen if we turned this paradigm around and focused more funding on our internal employees to fill a larger percentage of our new and vacant positions? What if we move even 10 percent of our external recruiting budgets into internal talent management strategy and processes? How much money would an organization save increasing internally filled positions by 10 percent?

The majority of organizations with robust recruiting teams and online recruiting systems don't have the same resources for internal talent and succession management. Yet most organizations have a wealth of internal talent that desire development, cross-functional movement and advancement opportunities — talent that largely goes untapped. What if we had a process and a system to inventory internal employees' competencies and we held regular talent review meetings to discuss career movement and development for current employees?

Myth 2: There is only one best practice talent management methodology. As organizations plan a talent and succession management program for the first time, they often search for one perfect way to implement their plans.

A new perspective: It is an excellent idea to benchmark with others and to draw ideas from experts when planning or enhancing a talent management strategy. But while there are core elements of a best practice methodology, there are many effective ways to execute a strategy, and there is no need to search for a single methodology. It is more important to customize the talent strategy to an organization's culture, goals, size and geographic structure. However, all talent management strategies should include the following core elements:

  • Consistent, documented talent assessment criteria, processes and definitions to identify top talent, high potentials and successors.
  • Career and development discussions to ensure managers know their direct reports' advancement and relocation desires.
  • Talent review meetings that are designed to increase talent visibility and to calibrate succession plan and high-potential selection decisions.
  • Follow-through of development action plans as identified in the talent review meetings to prepare successors and high potentials for career movement and advancement.

Myth 3: All talent management information and processes must be held in confidence to avoid employee morale issues. One of the decisions a company must make as it implements or updates a talent strategy is what level of confidentiality or transparency will surround communication materials and talent data. Many companies have concerns about what and how much to communicate about their talent management strategy.