Flash Mentoring: The Global Employee Knowledge Sharing NetworkApril 20, 2016
We all know what mentoring is in general, did you know there are different types of mentoring? This includes group mentoring, mentoring circles and now with the growing tech crowd, the trend is moving towards online mentoring software and more instant forms of mentoring; like flash mentoring.
We ask Stephen Grindrod, Director of Career Services what flash mentoring actually is, when should it be used rather than the traditional formal mentoring relationship and how an organization should implement such a program within their organization.
What is Flash / Situational Mentoring?
Flash mentoring is a type of mentoring relationship that allows an individual to quickly find the information they need to complete a specific task. Flash mentoring is less formal than having a long term mentoring relationship. It’s less about a relationship and more about knowledge sharing within a network of individuals who all have experience and knowledge in specific areas of the organization. Everyone within the network simply creates a profile that includes their experience and main skill sets. Individuals seeking knowledge are then able search these profiles based on their learning needs.
Since it’s a very short term relationship, it could be a meeting over lunch, a phone call or a just a couple of messages exchanged. For example, it’s as simple as Bob in accounting needed help with the new Excel task, or possible someone needs a refresh on how to make a spreadsheet; these would both be perfect examples of when flash mentoring can come into play.
Also called “Situational mentoring”, this is often used for “situational” circumstances, or project based tasks. Think of it like a one-time meeting or discussion that enables an individual to learn and seek guidance from a more experienced person who can pass on relevant knowledge and experience.
The purpose of flash mentoring is to provide a valuable learning opportunity for less experienced individuals while requiring a limited commitment time and resources for more experienced individuals serving as mentors. While mentors and mentees can mutually decide to meet again after their flash mentoring session, the commitment is to participate only in the initial meeting. As with a long term mentorship we all know, it doesn’t require creating learning goals or a mentoring agreement to decide how often each party will meet.
How Would One Implement a Flash Mentoring Program?
1.) Define the Business Objectives of the Program
First you need to decide how flash mentoring will benefit your organization. What are the types of knowledge sharing that needs to happen? Who should be part of this type of program. What are the search fields needed to find employees with the type of knowledge and experience needed within the organization?
2.) Use Online Mentoring Software
Normally flash mentoring is available to everyone within the organization, so you are going to need an online mentoring software platform to allow employees to search for others. See this as an employee directory, but the focus is profiles that highlight everyone’s skills, where they are in the organization, and their experience throughout their career. An example, your sales executive may be new to the company and needs to quickly come up to speed on how to perform a specific task using the organization’s CRM. Searching in the department “Sales and Marketing” and skill “CRM – Salesforce” they can quickly find everyone within the program who has this expertise and experience. They can simply view all profiles that match this criterion and send them a message for a flash mentoring session.
3.) Reporting on Success
Running reports on how many messages exchanged, relationships made and survey feedback data from a online mentoring platform will determine the success of the program and allow you to see if any improvements need to be made to continue the success.
Benefits for the Organization?They key benefit is knowledge sharing happening in an efficient way within your organization. Employees have access to a network of knowledge and can find it within a couple of clicks. Rather than researching for hours on the internet, or having to enroll in an e-learning course, they can get the information they need to do their job in a shorter timeframe. The bottom line for your organization is your employees are more productive, meaning return on investment overall.
How Can it be Used for Career Development?Enabling Career Development for employees has lots of benefits, from increasing retention, improving succession planning, and employee engagement. We recommend having a formal mentoring relationship to support an employee’s career path. Flash mentoring shouldn’t replace having a formal mentoring relationship; instead it can be used to assist in specific actions to achieve career goals. For example Jane has a mentor to support her to be a Senior Sales Executive. She needs some help on running sales reports to achieve a specific goal that was agreed upon by her mentor. She finds an employee who is an expert in the company’s CRM- Salesforce.
Overall; Flash/ Situational mentoring is a valuable and underutilized asset to any growing organization. Having the option to turn to a fellow employee for help builds a relationship for the company, and allows individuals to share knowledge for progression. For more info or for tips on launching your mentoring program, visit Insala today.