Smart organizations have mentoring programs to help transfer knowledge and skills to new employees. These programs produce psychological satisfaction in mentors and create strong bonds between experienced and newer workers.
As I researched various organizations, of the five exceptional programs I found, four are from IBM. There are other good mentoring programs out there — perhaps in your organization — but this is an area where IBM excels.
1. Veterans Benefits Administration’s Training and Performance Support System: The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has developed a program for its education benefits clerks that allows them to develop relationships with virtual mentors. The learning portion also includes simulations, videos and practice or assessment exercises.
The clerk’s role is to process documents received by the Department of Veterans Affairs from individual claimants, schools and other sources and to move them forward through the system. The program’s purpose is to mentor and train staff to better enable members of the armed forces to obtain their education benefits.
2. IBM’s Global Immersion Mentoring: As IBM grows in emerging markets such as India, China and Latin America, many new hires lack the necessary experience to excel. The company’s global mentoring program develops capabilities among new staff members in these countries.
Previous programs used technology to link mentors and mentees. IBM extended that idea with an immersion program where mentors travel to the mentees’ locations to meet daily one-on-one.
Some of the company’s sales leader mentors have said mentees are not the only ones learning in this program, and mentors have seen other significant differences in the growth markets versus the major markets. For this reason, the program is being extended, and the methodologies used are being retained as best practices. According to IBM, the program produced new skills among mentees as well as increased revenue, winning back old customers and new customers in growth markets.
3. IBM’s System z Mini-Boot Camp: The products supported on IBM’s mainframes, System z, continue to grow, which makes it difficult for employees to maintain expertise. The company designed a mini-boot camp so participants can reach expert level within three to five years, instead of the previous 10 to 15 years. Mentoring is critical because IBM leaders believe taking formal courses alone will not enable employees to achieve an expert level.
These employees need exposure to experts’ knowledge. The blended learning approach in the mini-boot camp involves formal mentoring and assessment. IBM claims significant business outcomes have been achieved and that participants learned more about System z via this program than by any other learning course.
4. IBM Interviewer Certification: IBM interviews 300,000-plus candidates each year, yet there are still hiring mistakes, particularly in growth markets. To address this, it created a certification program to improve recruiters’ interviewing skills. One aspect involves expert mentoring to change mindsets about the interviewing process from gut feelings to behaviorally based decisions.
The IBM certification program teaches interviewers how to focus on a candidate’s past performance to predict future success. Mastery modeling mentoring helps interviewers understand behavioral interviewing by watching someone perform the task. According to IBM, mastery modeling does more than build skills. It also builds confidence as recruiters carry out their tasks more successfully. The higher a learner’s confidence, the more likely the learner will perform the desired behavior on the job. Follow-up survey data indicates interviewers successfully have changed the way they evaluate candidates.
5. IBM New Employee Orientation: Many IBM hires are experienced professionals, not recent college grads. This results in diverse employees who need to receive consistent on-boarding training. The IBM New Employee Orientation program integrates mentoring, learning and workplace-based development to on-board, welcome and help new hires achieve long-term success.
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Brandon Hall is CEO of Brandon Hall Research, publisher of the study “Emerging e-Learning: New Approaches to Delivering Engaging Online Learning Content.” He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.