Mentoring Best Practices: Keep and Tweak The Transfer of Knowledge
[feat-img-left]Apprenticeship and mentorship programs can be extremely effective training tools. Many people in all lines of work learn best and most efficiently through shared experiences and hands-on learning. If your business has not invested in a program where younger employees are able to benefit from the experience and real-world knowledge of veteran employees, chances are that you are missing out on a real opportunity. Here are some key ways to develop an apprenticeship program that ensures the right values, process, and even business ethics are transferred on to the next generation.
Choosing Your Mentors
When setting out to begin an apprenticeship or mentoring program, it’s important to take your teachers into serious consideration. Not just anyone makes a good teacher. It takes a special individual to be able to transfer the right information in the right way to the next generation of workers. Asking for volunteers and nominees for such a program is actually a great place to start. Mentors need to be experienced, but they also need to be passionate about what they do. They need to be invested in the success of the company as a whole and that of the next generation of workers. The volunteers and nominees you get are likely to be interested in sharing their knowledge, which is critical, and probably already have unofficial experience doing something similar.
Setting Your Priorities
Once you have your chosen mentors in hand, make sure both you and they are aware of the priorities within the program. Passing down hard earned experience and training novice employees are two fairly obvious priorities, but also consider safety and preferred processes that are important for the next generation to learn. What are the values and ethics that are important for your employees to maintain? Think about how your mentors can weave those priorities throughout the education they are providing.
Understanding the Process
An apprenticeship or mentorship program is more than a simple exercise or two. It requires more than job shadowing or brief training sessions. A true mentor is someone who continues to support and provide wisdom for their trainees throughout the relationship, which can last for many years depending on the program. It’s important to recognize the value of that extended relationship and provide the framework within which it can succeed. Regular meetings between mentors and mentees are important, but so are the opportunities for teachers to share real world experience and walk their novices through important processes. Give real thought to how your employees would benefit from an apprenticeship program, then structure their daily schedule around the process that is required to produce success.
Measuring Results
As with any other business activity, if a mentorship program is worth investing in, it’s worth measuring. Keep close track of the progress of both mentors and mentees throughout the apprenticeship program. Their growth and training is what your business will stand on in the coming years. You can also adapt your training design based on this data. Make sure you are learning from and tweaking your training programs for continued success.

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