Developing mentoring in France has allowed us to envisage something more significant than a simple evolution in Mentor-Mentee relationships: a genuine culture transformation in the integration of new employees, the ways they are supported, and how knowledge is transmitted in businesses. Alterval has used its experiences working with other companies, as well as research carried out in Canada and more specifically in Quebec, to find effective ways of using mentoring in businesses.
Problems and issues
- Problems with the integration of new colleagues – the colleague has difficulties taking up their position and becoming loyal to the company; leads to a higher employee turnover
- The already discernible mass retirement of the post-WWII baby-boom generation, confronting many businesses with two problems:
- the risk of essential knowledge being lost
- the difficulty of finding people within the company, and even outside it, capable of quickly assimilating several decades of expertise
- The less-than-optimal social relationships in many businesses are more often than not linked to communication problems. Obstacles to the transmission of knowledge (passing on instructions, sharing methods, intra- and interprofessional exchange and discussions, etc.) are usually linked to ignorance of another colleague’s way of working and the difficulty of working together towards common aims.
Businesses react to these problems differently but they all try to deal with them in specific and in some cases individualised ways: offering bonuses, promoting employees at the end of their careers, recalling employees from retirement, tutoring programmes etc. All these approaches are functional to some extent, but are all remedial rather than preventative measures.
A different approach
In this context of mass retirement, where businesses are attempting to maintain their skill levels compared to their competitors and are having difficulties recruiting qualified staff, they have a duty to make the sharing of knowledge part of their development strategy. All the key players in businesses are aware of these difficulties and the fact that they present an opportunity: the environment is favourable to the setting up of universal programmes for the maintenance and transfer of knowledge.
An innovative solution
Mentoring is a dynamic learning programme based on interpersonal relationships of support and exchange, in which an experienced employee invests their expertise to optimise the development of another colleague who has skills to learn and personal objectives to attain. Alterval has therefore committed itself to developing a methodology of mentoring in France, based on the principle that the people best placed to train professionals are other professionals. The aim is to put new life into internal training, a process that will bear fruit for organisations that participate and learn.
A methodology to suit each business
- An audit to determine the knowledge and skills needing to be maintained and transmitted in the business
- Tests designed to establish the profiles of the knowledge transmitter and the learner so as to optimise the learning relationship
- Pedagogical coaching to train employees to transmit their knowledge, as someone with a good technical knowledge is not necessarily a good teacher, even if they are a good team player
- A selection of tools to accompany the learning relationship, helping to organise and accelerate the transmission of knowledge
- Building up a record of key knowledge exchanged during the mentoring programme so as to formalise it and create a written account of what is being done, rather than remaining within the oral tradition
Alterval’s mentoring system is an innovation creating social links in businesses. It is a simple yet dynamic training programme and an effective tool for building up knowledge: as Christine Cuerrier, visiting professor at the University of Quebec, states, mentoring is beneficial to the building-up of know-how, social skills, and personal development.