talent management

Social Learning and Mentoring

Successful social learning and knowledge workers: Don't forget they are people first and foremost. They have much in common with skilled craftsmen.

Social Learning or Collaborative Learning has come of age:  A radical concept just a few years ago, most organizations now aspire to being a learning organization. Firms recognize organizational learning is taking place on a real-time basis, with the pool of knowledge shared always evolving, changing and becoming more valuable. When the mentor matches work, mentoring is a powerful tool for encouraging social learning.

The vocabulary around knowledge management seems to change every few years.  Earlier today, I was visiting Josh Bersin’s blog and learned that his 2009 blog on “We-Learning” remains among the most popular blog ever written by the firm.  Bersin & Associates’ blog offers meaningful insight into the development of social learning.  (I had truly forgotten that there was a time when trainers and managers worried employees were spending too much time in front of computers.)Bersin   we learning

Still, as I reread the article, I was stuck by how he missed the “social” in “social learning.” Social-based, knowledge management, which includes mentor programs, works best when people feel connected. It’s a human thing.  Whether we are talking about 17th century barrel manufacturers and blacksmiths or today’s knowledge workers, their motivation is the same human needs: Pride of work, connection to community and compensation. 

The imagery is amusing, jumping from a craftsman in an apron working at a forge to an analyst on the road armed with a PowerPoint and iPad. But here is the takeaway: if you organization's mentor program can help employees feel a connection to a community and they can see that social learning is tied to success in the organization and pride of work, with this alone you have a “killer app” for knowledge management, social learning and employee engagement.

It's time to talk to a mentor guru about how your mentoring program can be modified to enhance social learning.

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