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Corporate mentoring program benefits


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Benefits of corporate mentoring programs.

Benefits of corporate mentoring programs.

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  • 1. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs Mutual Force Mentoring program management software White paper The ‘What’ Plus ‘Who’ of Profitability: How Corporations Can Boost Their Bottom Line Through Corporate Mentoring Programs November 2012
  • 2. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs Table of Contents 1. Introduction.......................................................................................................... 3 2. The Persistent Problem of “Critical Knowledge Loss”.........................................3 3. The Time Has Never Been Better to Engage in Employee-to-Employee Communication........................................................................................................ 7 4. Use Mentoring to Positively Impact Your Company’s Bottom Line.....................8 5. Preserving and Expanding Critical Corporate Knowledge is as Simple as Deploying Mutual Force in a Systematic Corporate Mentoring Program...............10 6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 11
  • 3. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs The ‘What’ Plus ‘Who’ of Profitability: How Corporations Can Boost Their Bottom Line Through Corporate Mentoring Programs 1. Introduction Within every successful company, there are a number of employees who possess “critical knowledge” – those employees who know what is required for the job at hand and who know where to go to get what needs doing done. Employees with “critical knowledge” have more than subject-matter expertise. They also have “organizational memory” and “relational capital.” In reality, the internal engine of a corporation can be spread out across all departments, all levels of pay, and all skill sets. It is not limited to the titled “C Suite.” What many businesses don’t recognize is the importance of identifying and nurturing a functional network within their own company to build upon and increase the number of employees with “critical knowledge.” A lack of mentoring programs for employee-to-employee mentoring within a business can result in real costs, from workforce attrition to loss of institutional memory. And, in the absence of a robust internal mentoring platform, companies miss out on the opportunity to spread that critical knowledge held by a few key employees to the broader base of employees. Fortunately, Mutual Force recognized the benefits of active employee- to-employee networking, and designed a unique mentoring platform so that companies can meet this important need. The Mutual Force mentoring management software makes it easy to create and manage your mentoring programs. It helps you make your mentoring programs have a structure and effective. With matching and tracking tools, running a mentoring program becomes easier. 2. The Persistent Problem of “Critical Knowledge Loss” It’s Not a New Problem. The problem of “critical knowledge loss” is not new. In a 2006 MIT Sloan Management Review article, the authors defined the problem that “…critical knowledge loss is not simply what the departing employees know about their job tasks, but also who they know and collaborate
  • 4. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs with to get work done on time.”1 In fact, during the period 2004-2008, a number of case studies and academic analysis were done to emphasize the burgeoning problem of institutional knowledge loss. Employees who possess “deep smarts” have an expertise based upon experiences, intuitive judgments, and an ability to analyze problems from unique perspectives.2 In a 2008 research paper by Deloitte Research, the analogous term “critical talent” was used to describe those groups and individuals that possess “…highly developed skills and deep knowledge – not just of the work itself but also of ‘how to make things happen’ in the organization.” Deloitte Research went so far as to state “Without these people, organizations could not achieve their strategies.”3 Illustrations of so-called “central connector employees” are frequently referenced to the oil and gas industry. As per Kenneth R. Peak, Chairman, CEO, and Director of Contango Oil & Gas, his spin on the Pareto Principle is that with 10% of the geoscientists, you find 90% of your hydrocarbons.4 The Pareto Principle hypothecates that roughly 20% of employees are the “vital few,” creating 80% of the effects. It’s not just that a small subset of a company is important. It is that many sirens were raised in the past fifteen years to alert business to several, converging variables that would weaken workforce cohesion, including: 1 Parise, Salvatore; Cross, Rob; and, Davenport, Thomas H., “Strategies for Preventing a Knowledge-Loss Crisis,” MIT Sloan Management Review (Summer 2006), p. 31. Accessed 11/26/2012 at summer/47409/strategies-for-preventing-a-knowledgeloss-crisis/. 2 Leonard, Dorothy; and, Swap, Walter, “Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom,” Harvard Business School Press (Boston, 2005). 3 Athey, Robin, “It’s 2008: Do You Know Where Your Talent Is? Why Acquisition and Retention Strategies Don’t Work,” Deloitte Development, LLC, 2004, p. 1. Accessed 11/26/2012 at %20Assets/Documents/VE_Consulting_HC_connect_talentmgmt_Feb07.pdf. 4 Peak, Ken, “Contango Oil & Gas,” PowerPoint presentation, Ohio University (October 5, 2001). Accessed 11/26/2012 at: See, also, PowerPoint presentation, Harvard Business School (September 28, 2002). Accessed 11/26/2012 at:
  • 5. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs a. job mobility with company expansions and relocations, including to foreign countries; b. job flexibility to sites away from a traditional office desk setting; c. job opportunities in a global marketplace; d. a decrease in employee expectations for job stability; e. an aging workforce; f. hyper-specialization of job tasks in an incessantly complex business environment; and, g. out-sourcing as a regular means of cost-cutting. Between five and fifteen years ago, businesses and the workforce underwent arguably as radical a transformation as occurred during the Industrial Revolution. The very definitions of “the office” and an “employee” changed to a degree that it is only now becoming the new normal. The sirens went off that change was coming. Change came. What have you done during these years within your business to harness the power of your changing workforce and workplace? Who have you identified as critical value employees, who should be sharing their talents with other employees within your company? A Persistent Problem, Seemingly Without an Effective Solution. You might ask whether retention of critical employees or at least their knowledge is simply a matter of more employee training sessions or bigger, better manuals and standard operating procedures? Perhaps you have only just gotten the hang of the MBA-driven approaches preached during the 1990s, finally hiring someone who knows how to select a color scheme beyond pre-loaded templates for company PowerPoint presentations. Maybe you have recently spent enough time with the legal department to develop fundamental knowledge of compliance requirements and assign someone within your organization to draft standard operating procedures. In the language of the 90s, you have been fighting to “acquire” and “retain” employees on business guru Jim Collin’s quintessential “bus.”5 It is now cliché that the typical US company spends nearly fifty times more to recruit a 5 Collins, Jim, “Good to Great,” Harper Business, 2001.
  • 6. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs $100,000 professional than it will invest in his annual training after he comes aboard.6 General Mills Inc., for example, estimated ten years ago that the departure of even one experienced marketing manager “could cost millions of dollars from the loss of critical marketing and client knowledge.”7 By the mid-2000s, the message became, “Unless addressed head on, the snowballing of baby boomer retirement will result in lost productivity and intellectual capital, massive recruiting expenses, and disruptions of business due to ineffective talent management strategies and their implementation.”8 John Gibson, President & CEO of Landmark Graphics Corp., aptly phrased the problem of transmitting institutional knowledge to new hires this way: “Given the comfort level most young people have with computers and the internet today, it is not hard to imagine that they will be able to run circles around the rest of us – at least technologically. But what about their lack of experience?” Gibson went on to estimate a 7-year process for new workers to achieve a level of competence to make or recommend “appropriate risk decisions, incorporating actual risks and costs involved.”9 A different spin is the problem that comes with departing employees, as articulated by Michael Yeaman, Senior Manager at Accenture. He said, “One of the great challenges of today’s professionals is how to take more and more data and turn them into really valuable knowledge for the firm. Most companies are quite concerned that they either are not utilizing all the 6 Athey, supra, p. 5. 7 Lancaster, Lynne C.; and, Stillman, David, “When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Problem of Work,” Harper Business (New York, 2002). 8 Satter, Andrew; and, Russ, Diane, “Why Don’t More Senior Leaders Mentor?” Journal of Management Inquiry (2007), p. 382. Accessed 11/26/2012 at 9 Poruban, Steven; and, Clark, Judy, “Managing Data & Knowledge: oil, gas industry makes advances in managing data, knowledge,” Point Cross Resources (December 2011). Accessed on-line 11/26/2012 at
  • 7. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs knowledge that exists within their organization or that within the next 5-10 years, they will lose a great deal of it as their key people retire.”10 Every departure from the traditional office setting reduces opportunities for employees to meet each other at the water cooler, exchange personal banter, and build inter-personal relationships. When management can’t see who is moving throughout departments and tiers of corporate hierarchy, it can fail to identify which employees are the glue of company operations. The farther removed employees are from direct communication in the managerial environment, the greater the probability that a manager or executive won’t even realize the full value of an employee until the employee departs and smooth functioning goes haywire. What you’re really looking for is a means to identify and cultivate a company’s “central connectors,” specifically those employees who seek out and who are sought out as trusted sources of information about job responsibilities and the company, itself. But, keep in mind, “[m]ost new employees get connected in a network through serendipitous processes that, in a large organization, typically take two or three years.”11 So how can a company zero-in on critical connectors through employee-centered communications? 3. The Time Has Never Been Better to Engage in Employee-to-Employee Communication. While on the one hand technology is splitting employees physically further and further away from everything from break rooms to board rooms, it also now offers virtual ways to become more connected than ever. You can continue to be a company that just uses webcasts, tele-conferences, and lunch- and-learn, or you can become a company with a dynamic, real-time employee- to-employee communications platform that expands networks and preserves key data. An individual’s sphere of communication is limitless in the global economy, whether it is within the same department or to a supplier half way around the world. Communication is an instantaneous medium, conducted 24-7. Add to the mix that diversity and collaboration are cliché components of successful 10 Poruban, id. 11 Parise, supra, p. 34.
  • 8. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs corporate culture. Right now, employees can rapidly and efficiently learn from each other when given the right technology platform. In an early example of the power of internal and external mentor-mentee relationships, in 1991 a group of women at Bankers Trust (prior to its merger with Deutsche Bank) created a “Global Partnership Network for Women,” utilizing “mentoring circles” of mentors and mentees. By 1995, their “Women on Wall Street” conference became an industry-wide networking forum, which continues to this day.12 When you consider the long-term and far-reaching benefits this early example provides, it’s an inspiration to do what now can be as easy as calling Mutual Force to get started today within your company. “To increase performance in today’s complex organizations, leaders must help key individuals build rich, diverse networks.”13 Companies need to recognize the power of internal networking, particularly where it can build trusting relationships of correct information exchange. Instead of leaving employees to Google questions and figure out applications, work-related questions and answers can create added value when conducted between employees at the same company. 4. Use Mentoring to Positively Impact Your Company’s Bottom Line What are some of the ways that employee-to-employee mentoring can positively impact the bottom line? First, mentoring creates a corporate environment that accelerates the new employee integration process. One study found “…organizations that were more successful at integrating newcomers tended to use a relational approach, helping new hires to rapidly establish a broad network of relationships with co-workers that they could tap to obtain the information they needed to become more productive.”14 Those additional opportunities for a new 12 Angwin, Duncan; Cummings, Stephen; and, Smith, Chris, “The Strategy Pathfinder: Core Concepts and Live Cases, 2nd Edition,” John Wiley & Sons Ltd (UK, 2011), section 7-5. 13 Athey, supra, p. 9. 14 Rollag, Keith; Parise, Salvatore; and, Cross, Rob, “Getting New Hires Up to Speed Quickly,” MIT Sloan Management Review (Winter 2005), p. 36. Accessed 11/26/2012 at: speed-quickly/.
  • 9. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs employee to ramp up through mentor-mentee relationships will save money for the company and will build relationships that reduce attrition. Second, mentoring captures organizational knowledge from the few “critical employees,” who disproportionately impact strategy and results. Each time a company connects a key employee into a training relationship with other employees, it spreads company knowledge. This decreases the risk that the departure of a key employee will cause a gap in knowledge and productivity. Third, mentoring with data capture memorializes knowledge. Every time the mind of the key employee can be put down on paper, it can be preserved and shared with additional employees. Sometimes, those “deep smarts” involve “…swift, expert decisions based on that system-level comprehension and also the ability, when necessary, to dive into component parts of that system and understand the details.”15 Because of the level of expertise involved, capturing the key employee information may include a real-time capture of the decision, along with a reverse-engineering Q&A perfectly suited to a mentor-mentee conversation. Mutual Force can help you play an active role in relationship building between mentors and mentees at your company. In his book, “Know-How: The 8 Skills that Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t,” author Ram Charan described the fundamental skills for success in the 21st century, including shaping the way people work together by “leading” the social system of your business.16 In other words, Mutual Force can help you use company resources to shape the internal interpersonal dynamic between employees, particularly finding those employees with critical knowledge and turning them into mentors for the rest of the company workforce. Every active step you take to build relationships within your company, most especially of the mentor-mentee variety, positively impacts your company’s bottom line. We can state the conclusion with a number of details: reduced outsourced training; preservation of institutional knowledge; creation of sustaining relationships; expansion of company knowledge; improved 15 Leonard, Dorothy; and, Swap, Walter, “Preserving Deep Smarts at NASA,” Ask Magazine (Issue 22, Winter 2006), p. 9. Accessed 11/26/2012 at 16 Charan, Ram, “Know-How: The 8 Skills that Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t,” Random House (2007).
  • 10. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs decision-making; increased efficiency, and more. And many of these benefits can be mathematically captured to demonstrate a positive return-on-investment in dollars and cents. 5. Preserving and Expanding Critical Corporate Knowledge is as Simple as Deploying Mutual Force in a Systematic Corporate Mentoring Program Technology and Training are Already in Your Favor. In the several years since the height of research about corporate networking, technology has greatly advanced. And, we’re past any barrier of a learning curve for employee adoption of networking platforms, electronic communication, and telecommuting. Mutual Force Adds the Specific Application to Spark Your Company’s Mentor-Mentee Program. What your company is likely missing is the specific mentoring platform that will help employees connect with mentors and then preserve the critical knowledge exchanged between them. Mutual Force provides a robust and secure, mentoring management platform which is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service platform. Matching, tracking the progress of mentoring, evaluation in the form of surveys and reporting are all part of this platform. Here at Mutual Force, we understand that critical employees are busy getting things done for your company, and that simplicity of design and implementation of the mentor portal is important to gaining their active participation. We’ve designed our mentor-mentee application for the busy employee, who has high productivity expectations. Important features of the Mutual Force Corporate Mentoring Portal include: Secure and searchable profiles of mentors and mentees; Auto matching of mentors and mentees; Meeting logs which captures details of the meetings between mentors and mentees; Evaluation and reporting tools; Fully branded and secure mentoring platform for your organization;
  • 11. Mutual Force White paper on Corporate mentoring programs Web based and simple interface The designated company program administrator can engage in a variety of features. For example, the mentee-mentor pairings can be introduced through the administrator, in addition to allowing employees to self-select each other. The company program administrator can track the status of mentoring and run reports in order to develop a reference library of critical knowledge that would otherwise be lost. Only Mutual Force offers this specialty product which we have designed to meet well-established and universal company needs to build mentoring relationships within its workforce. Although the alarm was sounded through various research outlets in the past 15-years, only Mutual Force created the mentor-mentee communications platform solution to fill this unmet need. 6. Conclusion Since the mid-2000s, a workforce problem was identified and forecast without an immediate solution. Now, there is a clear and cost-effective opportunity through the Mutual Force mentoring platform to engage critical employees to expand and preserve a company’s knowledge base. The Mutual Force mentoring platform is simple, and will be easily adopted by even the busiest of employees. Among its many technical features, the Mutual Force mentoring platform includes a mobile app, which facilitates prompt and easy communication from mentors to mentees to rapidly share knowledge and keep your company goal-oriented. Company administrators can generate comprehensive reports to measure and monitor data-sharing between mentors and mentees, and can even compile this information for other employees to partake in share institutional knowledge. To get started down the path to the preservation and expansion of critical knowledge through mentor-mentee relationships, you have only to call us at Mutual Force at (908) 548-0772 or sign up through our website at