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6-1 Chapter 6: Knowledge Transfer Knowledge transfer is the intentional communication and integration of knowledge between individuals or groups within an organization. Chapter Overview This chapter provides information regarding eï¬ective knowledge transfer strategies and tools that are relevant to transit agencies. This chapter begins with an overview of the features of knowledge transfer strategies, some of the challenges that drive the need for eï¬ective strategies, and the impact of strategic knowledge transfer initiatives within the transit industry. Presented next are action plans for three knowledge transfer strategies to help transit agencies incorporate knowledge transfer into their workplace processes. The action plans included in this chapter are the following: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Description of Knowledge Transfer Knowledge transfer refers to strategies for ensuring occupationally critical knowledge is available and delivered to the necessary people within a transit agency. To complete knowledge transfer, the knowledge must also be integrated into the repertoire of others within the transit agency. Knowledge transfer is critical to all levels of and functions within a transit agency. Importantly, knowledge transfer Ensures that the transit agency is not unilaterally dependent on a personâs behavior or decisions and that knowledge is not hoarded by employees looking to gain an advantage or lost when employees leave the organization. Incorporates the consolidation and sharing of knowledge, whether completed by one person retrieving needed knowledge or by the exchange of knowledge between individuals or groups. Includes ways that employees are able to retrieve and access knowledge within various KM systems. While sharing knowledge across a transit agency is important, the key to successful knowledge transfer is ensuring that knowledge can be absorbed and used by others. Strategies to facilitate knowledge transfer need to focus on both sharing and understanding elements to ensure that knowledge transfer is accomplished. Knowledge Transfer = Sharing + Ability to Use Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-2 Transit Agency Challenges Associated with Knowledge Transfer There are several challenges that transit agencies may encounter when trying to ensure that knowledge is shared across the transit agency. Some of these challenges are speciï¬c to the transit industry, while others are more general and could be encountered by any type of organization attempting to implement KM. Being aware of these challenges can prepare transit agencies to face them head on, increasing the agenciesâ ability to overcome them. Interagency, Oversight, and Contractor Relationships Although each transit agency is unique to some degree, the reality is that KM transfer challenges and approaches to meet those challenges share some similarities from organization to organization. Unfortunately, transit agencies do not always share their approaches with other organizations. When this sharing does not occur, transit agencies can end up reinventing the wheel in an eï¬ort to ï¬nd knowledge transfer solutions that work for them. This can waste time and resources that could be saved if this knowledge were shared. Each relationship type explained below can present knowledge transfer challenges for transit agencies: Interagency relationships: The transit industry generally does not have a strong history of using small group, interagency, information-sharing meetings. While some transit agencies may utilize this practice, they are typically the exception rather than the norm. Although each transit agency feels it is unique, KM challenges and approaches to meet those challenges may be similar from organization to organization. In fact, APTA, CTAA, and state transit associations already engage in such eï¬orts by bringing managers together through conferences and meetings. Transit agencies may ï¬nd it valuable to use these associations and similar opportunities as platforms for gathering information on how to encourage and guide KM knowledge-sharing activities with their employees. Oversight relationships: Rather than being a stand-alone transit agency, many transit systems are a division of a larger entity, such as municipal or county government or a human service agency. This is common with smaller bus systems and even true of some larger systems. The oversight entity, to a great degree, has an impact on the ability of the transit system to implement an eï¬ective KM program. The same is true for a stand-alone transit authority, as its Board of Directors could have a similar impact. The challenge is that implementing a robust KM program requires the oversight entity to have an understanding of the importance of KM, agree to implement it, provide the budget to support it, and possibly even make its IT and software resources available for KM-related information capture and dissemination. Contractor relationships: Transit agencies that contract out either part or all of their service delivery, vehicle maintenance, or facility maintenance face multiple challenges that can impact KM eï¬ectiveness. Contractor knowledge regarding the operational delivery of service or the maintenance of vehicles, facilities, or technology is not always shared with transit agencies, which can result in operational and maintenance ineï¬ciencies and have safety implications. In addition, when the contracting company loses staï¬, that loss of knowledge, skills , and expertise Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM be conï¬dent that they have the knowledge to continue safely operating service and maintaining vehicles, facilities, or technology. has the potential to reduce contractor eï¬ectiveness and create safety and productivity gaps. With an eï¬ective strategy in place for knowledge transfer from contractors, transit agencies can
6-3 Knowledge Hoarding and Lack of Commitment to Communication The belief that knowledge is power can negatively impact the KM eï¬orts of an organization. When individuals think that having certain knowledge is personally advantageous or makes them an asset to the organization, they may purposefully choose to refrain from sharing that knowledge. Some employees want to keep what they consider âpersonally critical knowledgeâ to themselves to maintain a competitive advantage or relevancy in the workplace. Also, employees may not share knowledge because they cannot see the beneï¬ts of, or are not committed to, that type of communication. Such attitudes make encouraging employees to communicate and share knowledge a challenge, but one that can be overcome by identifying and advertising the short- or long-term personal beneï¬ts of sharing their tacit knowledge with others in the transit agency or ï¬nding ways to reward employees for such sharing. Intergenerational Diï¬erences Another challenge impacting transit agencies in terms of knowledge transfer is the intergenerational diï¬erences between older and more experienced workers and younger and less seasoned employees. While there is positive potential in intergenerational knowledge exchanges between younger and older transit employees, the generational diï¬erences that shape the thoughts, patterns, and conceptualizations of workers of diï¬erent generations can often hinder such exchanges. Individuals raised in diï¬erent generations often communicate and think in dissimilar ways and have diï¬ering ideas about what workplace relationships should look like. One potential solution to address these problems may be to implement a cross-generational mentoring program in which both the mentor and mentee exchange knowledge relevant to their particular area of expertise. Such a program would stimulate eï¬ective knowledge transfer between generations of employees and improve communication between employees for whom cultural values and experiences may diï¬er greatly. Diï¬erent Mental Models and Language Everyone has a mental model that organizes their knowledge and thought processes. This âmapâ of how processes work and the relationship between diï¬erent workplace elements is not readily apparent, but exists for each employee. Since mental models diï¬er, employees do not envision elements of the workplace in the same way, and knowledge sharing becomes diï¬cult. Similarly, employees in separate functional areas or departments may use terminology or describe aspects of the workplace diï¬erently. To make sure that knowledge transfer can occur eï¬ectively, it is important to focus on developing a common understanding and on ï¬nding ways that employees can connect with one another personally to facilitate the sharing and use of organizational knowledge. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM Take it one step at a time: Do not overwhelm employees with too much at once. Giving them time to understand what is happening in terms of knowledge transfer as well as the why and how of the strategies will lead to more successful and lasting knowledge transfer activity. Considerations for Knowledge Transfer Strategies When considering knowledge transfer as an overall goal in a transit agency, there are several methods that can be used across all the identiï¬ed strategies to help ensure successful implementation. These include the following:
6-4 Incorporate appropriate tools to facilitate transfer: Make sure that employees have the tools they need to be eï¬ective, such as technology or other resources. Be clear when providing guidance for how knowledge will be transferred and why: Helping employees understand the details of how new strategies will work builds comfort and ease in using the strategies. Making sure employees understand the âwhyâ promotes buy-in and use. Create knowledge transfer strategies that work with the structure of the transit agency: If a strategy does not align with the transit agency and how it needs to function, it will not be successful. Do not waste time trying to implement a generic strategy that ultimately will not support knowledge transfer for a speciï¬c transit agency. Knowledge Transfer Action Plans Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM The remainder of this chapter presents three action plans to help transit agencies begin implementing knowledge transfer or improve knowledge sharing within their employee populations. Detailed information describing the strategy, implementation steps, and associated tips is laid out within each action plan.
6-5 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing Summary: Cross-functional team building can provide transit employees with a greater understanding of other departments or functions in their transit agency and help reveal the important interdependencies among jobs and functions such as operations, maintenance, customer service, safety, and training. Examples of such transit interdependencies are the relationships between: The service delivery function and the vehicle maintenance function The vehicle procurement function and the vehicle maintenance function The safety function and the service delivery function The emergency response function and the training function. Cross-functional team building can also enable better integration across transit functions, supporting high-quality performance and eï¬ective progress toward mission achievement. There are various ways in which transit cross-functional team building can be accomplished. Some examples include Shared or multi-departmental training, where employees from various functions complete a training course together, thus learning what is expected of diï¬erent functions, not just their own. This training can provide employees with basic knowledge and skills across a range of positions. For example, shared training for operations supervisors and dispatchers can lead to better understanding and integrated enforcement of emergency operating procedures. Brown bag sessions are informal meetings or presentations in which a speaker provides cross-functional training or discusses technical concepts or industry best practices. These meetings can be used to introduce employees from diï¬erent functions to new concepts. In the transit operations and vehicle maintenance environment, these brown bag sessions are often called tail-gate sessions and allow for vehicle operators and mechanics to share information, mutual challenges, and best practices to overcome those challenges. Shadowing rotations can be organized for members of a cross-functional team to actually see how other departments function. This shadowing would allow employees to understand the challenges other functions face while at the same time developing cross-functional skills. For example, a transit agency might initiate a shadowing rotation for an HR employee, whose job involves recruitment, and a customer service supervisor. Shadowing allows the HR employee to better understand the skills and abilities required of an eï¬ective customer service agent while educating the customer service supervisor on the challenges embedded in recruiting quality customer service representatives. Cross-functional project teams can also provide opportunities for knowledge sharing. Whenever possible, identify projects within the transit agency that can beneï¬t from a cross- functional team. Through these experiences, employees can glean knowledge from other positions and functional areas. In a transit agency, safety management is everyoneâs Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-6 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing responsibility, not just that of the safety staï¬. Therefore, creating cross-functional team projects involving safety, operations, and maintenance employees is not only a valuable activity, but is essential to eï¬ectively carrying out the safety mission of the transit agency. Ultimately, transit cross-functional team-building activities are valuable because they provide a means for new and existing employees to gain important skills and a broader perspective of the transit agency. When employees are trained across diï¬erent areas of work, they can then complete job tasks within other positions in the event of retirements, turnover, or employee leave. By instilling transit employees with a broader base of expertise and greater sense of the interrelatedness of departments or functions, transit agencies can develop a workforce capable of better achieving positive results in terms of safety, service delivery, and customer service. Rationale for Implementing Strategy: Transit agencies that are not already using cross- functional team-building practices will beneï¬t greatly from initiating them. This type of team building assists transit employees in understanding how their work integrates with the work of others in diï¬erent functions, resulting in better eï¬ciency and more streamlined processes through collaboration. In addition, this strategy creates redundancy for when an employee is out of the oï¬ce, unavailable, leaves the organization, or retires. It ensures there will be other employees within the transit agency who are knowledgeable on the requirements of that job position and have the ability to successfully ï¬ll in. Cross-functional team building creates a wider spectrum of knowledge, greater depth of information, and encourages knowledge transfer across transit agency. the transit agency as a whole. Action Plan Highlights Cross-functional team building provides opportunities for employees to learn and gain knowledge about other functions within a transit agency. Cross-functional team building facilitates an employeeâs ability to take over some of the duties of temporarily vacant job positions because they have acquired a basic knowledge of the skills needed for a range of positions in the organization. Implementation Factors and Timeframe Type of Knowledge Addressed Explicit Tacit Embedded Estimated Time to Fully Implement 0â3 months 3â6 months 6 monthsâ1 year More than 1 year Time Required to Realize Results 0â2 years 2â5 years More than 5 years Relevant Positions or Types of Work: All positions and types of work. This strategy requires participation from multiple functions within the Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-7 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM Implementation Plan Action Lead(s) HR lead Leadership from each department Targeted Audience(s) Employees from each participating department Steps to Implement Cross-Functional Team Building 1. Set Goals: Create clear goals for team building that indicate how the transit agency wants to include employees or what should be accomplished in a cross-functional team. Creating these goals as an initial step in implementing cross-functional team building is the best way to make sure that the needs of the transit agency are deï¬ned and the organizational structure is taken into account. Goals will be speciï¬c to each individual transit agency based on its particular reality. The goals can include outcomes such as enhancing knowledge, learning about other functions, and increasing the ability to support other functions, as needed. 2. Assemble a Cross-Functional Team: After goals have been set for the program, participants need to be identiï¬ed. To be eï¬ective, cross-functional teams should include Inï¬uential employees from each functional area or department. Inï¬uential employees are transit employees who others look to for guidance or advice. These employees do not necessarily have to be members of transit agency leadership; employees from all levels should be considered. Subject matter experts across the transit agency. These people are experts in the various processes, procedures, or skills required for success. Subject matter experts have in-depth knowledge of their speciï¬c job function within the transit agency and can share that knowledge with others. Selected employees should be interested in and committed to collaboration and knowledge transfer across the transit agency. Consider starting with a pilot group of eight to ten members to make sure that the program is set up in a way that works for the transit agency. After the ï¬rst, or Setting Cross-Functional Team-Building Goals Having clear goals for any cross-functional team- building activities will help to make this form of knowledge transfer successful. Goals should Identify types of knowledge that are currently siloed and would beneï¬t from these cross- functional activities Deï¬ne who should collaborate in each cross- functional team or team-building activity Describe how employees will collaborate Articulate desired outcomes and how they will be measured
6-8 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing pilot, cross-functional team is identiï¬ed, share the developed goals with the team to help them understand where they ï¬t in and how their participation is essential, as well as to create a sense of commitment to the team. 3. Identify Strategies for Cross-Functional Team Building: All team members should be encouraged to identify strategies for cross-functional team building, which can range from shadowing an employee in another transit department or function, to having employees give presentations on their areas of expertise, to identifying a project that requires support from several transit departments or functions. The team facilitator should supervise, but not micromanage, the activities. 4. Monitor Performance: As cross-functional team-building activities occur, there will likely be a need to adjust the teams or activities if knowledge is not ï¬owing as expected or if conï¬ict arises. Leadership should monitor the general interactions of the cross-functional team for any conï¬ict and address it through a discussion that allows all team members to share their points of view. Open communication is a necessity for these teams and team-building activities to be successful. Useful Internal and External Resources Resources for Strategy Implementation Dedicated transit staï¬ responsible for implementing, sustaining, and evaluating the cross-functional eï¬ort. A deï¬ned plan of action that includes which transit departments or functions need to be aligned and work together. Resources for Sustaining Strategy The integration of the cross-functional activities into existing transit infrastructure and culture. A focus on improving collaboration will help sustain cross-functional team building and maximize its beneï¬ts. Examples of Eï¬ective Programs The CEO/General Manager at a small transit agency shared that the agencyâs operational employees are cross trained to ensure that work can continue moving forward if employees take time oï¬ or depart from the transit agency. This helps distribute the workload across the transit agency, as work can be transferred based on demand or availability. For instance, drivers at the transit agency were cross trained in very basic vehicle maintenance skills in addition to their regular job of driving buses. Also, one set of drivers is teamed with another set of drivers who operate a diï¬erent type of bus or operate diï¬erent routes as an eï¬ort to expand vehicle operational skills and route familiarity. This eï¬ort provides drivers with the experience and knowledge needed to ï¬ll in when necessary. The Executive Director at a medium-sized bus transit agency shared that dispatchers, ï¬eld trainers, and road supervisors at the transit agency must all complete emergency response Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-9 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing training related to accidents and incidents. This training included employees being trained on each otherâs emergency response skills and responsibilities, thus allowing individuals in these diï¬erent job functions to learn the emergency roles and responsibilities of all related job functions. This cross-functional training results in better coordinated and collaborative eï¬orts and leads to redundancy of skills and more eï¬ective emergency response outcomes. Impact and Cautionary Considerations Positive Outcomes of the Strategy Ability to Cover Job Responsibilities: Because employees are trained on and develop the knowledge and skills to serve in multiple job positions, they can cover or ï¬ll in for employees who are out, leave the transit agency, or retire; thus leading to consistency regardless of circumstance. Increased Knowledge Sharing Across the Transit Agency: Cross-functional teams consist of members from a variety of functions within the transit agency. These team members will inevitably have different educational backgrounds, knowledge, and skills. This diversity allows for knowledge sharing related to job performance and skill development within the team that might not have otherwise occurred. For instance, if a transit IT support employee cross trains with an employee from the transit operational function, the IT employee can provide operational employees with insight into how to most eï¬ectively use relevant technology systems, while gaining a better of understanding of IT needs within transit operations. Improved Communication and Eï¬ciency: Processes, communication, and working relationships can become more eï¬cient and eï¬ective because employees understand how their job responsibilities aï¬ect and are intertwined with other employeesâ job responsibilities within the transit agency. Employees have a better understanding of who they should communicate with on speciï¬c topics or to get particular questions answered. This creates a resource-eï¬cient environment within the transit agency, stimulates communication and collaboration, and reduces the need to reengineer existing processes. Cautionary Considerations or Potential Negative Outcomes of the Strategy Requires Time Commitment Unrelated to Task Work: While understanding the roles and responsibilities of transit employees in other job functions creates redundancy and allows employees to cover work in other job functions, this may take away from the time and ability to focus that employees need on their regular job. To overcome this potential problem, it is essential to ensure that no transit employee is being overworked due to cross-functional activities and that job responsibilities are spread equitably among all employees. â + Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-10 Action Plan L: Implement Cross-Functional Team Building to Promote Knowledge Sharing worried that they may no longer be needed if they orient others on the requirements of their job position, they may resist sharing the skills and knowledge needed to successfully perform their job tasks. In these employees' minds, their resistance to cross-functional skill and knowledge sharing may make them feel more in control of their job situation while eliminating potential competition. Therefore, in communications for cross-functional team building, the goals of the cross-functional team should be clearly expressed. If employees view this collaboration as an opportunity to expand their own skill set and strengthen both their job security and transit agency mission achievement, they are more likely to support the initiative. Perception of Lack of Focus on Personal Career: Having cross-functional teams may create the perception that employees are being underutilized in their regular job responsibility, thus not reaching their full potential. While they are learning and understanding other roles, the lack of focus on their primary responsibilities could be seen as a detriment to overall transit agency success. To combat this negative outcome, employees should be encouraged to pursue technical areas that align with their skills and interests. In turn, employees can share their expertise with others and assist in strengthening the transit agency as a whole. This can create positive support for cross-functional team building through emphasis on employee contributions to the transit agency and an accompanying sense of satisfaction for providing that contribution. Communication Plan Process for Obtaining Buy-In Engage senior leaders to articulate the positive value of cross-functional team activities to transit agency employees. Senior leaders should consider making participation in the cross-functional team building mandatory for all employees, when possible, by building cross-functional teams into the structure of the transit agency and how work is done. Provide details on expected ROI and the beneï¬ts that the cross-functioning teams will bring to individual employees and the transit agency as a whole. Valuable Communication Resources Create a cross-functional team-building newsletter that outlines upcoming opportunities and trainings available. This could include the time and dates of activities, a description of the work/training, and a list of associated skills that can be developed. It could also highlight the positive eï¬ect of cross-functional relationships that have already been developed and identify individual employees with unique and speciï¬c skills that can be shared with others through cross- functional teams. Create an intranet page with the same focus as the newsletter described above. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM Resistance to Knowledge Sharing: If employees are not conï¬dent in their job security or are
6-11 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Summary: A key element of many successful KM programs is a focus on interactions between transit employees and the knowledge transferred as a part of those interactions. To promote and support interpersonal knowledge transfer, a transit agency must have a structure in place to facilitate communication and knowledge sharing. Knowledge-sharing forums and KM CoPs allow employees to contribute knowledge and receive knowledge from others within the transit agency. Furthermore, these types of interpersonal interactions can be used to transfer knowledge between transit agencies, transit agencies and their contractors, and transit agencies and their oversight entities. Knowledge- sharing forums and CoPs are used to share information, knowledge and skills, and include members who share the same interests, skills, or professions. Creating relationships among employees and building a sense of community can facilitate dynamic exchange for the purpose of knowledge transfer within a transit agency. Relationships and personal interactions are means to easily and comfortably share with others and provide a transit agency with the opportunity to help ensure that tacit knowledge is not lost. However, even with these similarities, knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs are distinct from one another. Knowledge-sharing forums: These take the form of meetings, in-person discussions, or web- facilitated conversations and serve as a means to share speciï¬c knowledge and facilitate learning. These activities are most useful when they are interactive and have clear objectives to achieve. It is typically fairly easy to incorporate a meeting or scheduled discussion into the workday, and such meetings and discussions are a common part of transit agency culture. Examples of eï¬ective knowledge-sharing forums at a transit agency can focus on o Safety: Scheduled discussions or meetings between transit agency safety and training staï¬ and operations staï¬ may help identify and overcome safety-related challenges within the operation. o Maintenance: Forums involving vehicle maintenance managers from multiple transit agencies encourage sharing information on vehicle maintenance challenges and strategies to overcome these challenges. o Operations: Larger transit agencies that have multiple operating divisions may beneï¬t from the managers of its diï¬erent divisions establishing similar knowledge- sharing forums to share challenges and best practices. Not only will this assist in the transit agencyâs overall mission achievement, but each division can avoid wasting resources because theyâre not âreinventing the wheel.â CoPs: CoPs are more in depth and interactive than knowledge-sharing forums. A CoP is a group of people who meet regularly about topics for which they share passion. CoPs focus on collaboration and reciprocal knowledge sharing. They include a standing group of transit employees who are invested in the CoP and passionate about the subjects that it focuses on. Transit agency CoPs lead to sharing specialized knowledge that otherwise might be lost or Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-12 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice 1. The community comes together based on common interests, but each member brings distinct expertise; CoPs are most eï¬ective when they span units or functions. 2. The group creates a schedule of when it will meet (the frequency and/or speciï¬c dates), with meetings occurring a minimum of one time per month. 3. The group identiï¬es roles for its members. For example, at each meeting there is a facilitator and a recorder, and these roles can rotate among the group, based on the groupâs plan. 4. The group creates a plan for how topics will be identiï¬ed. In some CoPs, the facilitator selects the topic so topic selection would rotate for each meeting. Other times, topics are nominated and then members vote to select a ï¬nal topic. 5. The group identiï¬es points for review of its sessions to evaluate alignment with original intent, desire for continued participation, and to determine if other members should be invited. 6. The group has a reporting mechanism in place to share what has been learned with management or to specify how new knowledge will be applied. Sometimes the group takes on a capstone project to determine how to enhance an operation, service, or product for the transit agency. There are several tools that can be used as a part of knowledge-sharing forums or CoPs, including Bloomï¬re, Communiï¬re, Ning, Yammer, Moodle, and SharePoint. Knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs provide a common point for communication and relationship building between individuals in the same ï¬eld, enabling them to share knowledge, seek support, and develop and educate other employees through group discussions. These forums and CoPs can evolve naturally, but can also be deliberately created by a transit agency with a speciï¬c purpose or goal in mind. For example, transit employees can look to the forums or CoPs to build on personal experiences or ask questions about a speciï¬c topic or issue that they are encountering in their job. In addition, lessons learned can be shared and discussed so that the transit agency can learn from the experience and expertise of its employees and not repeat mistakes. Lessons learned can be catalysts to determine whether policies, procedures, and protocols within the transit agency need to be further developed to support successful outcomes or whether standards and processes need to be re- examined. When actively functioning, knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs are an easy and eï¬ective way for employees to access, spread, and discuss knowledge. Many transit agencies experience conï¬ict or less-than-eï¬ective communication among bus operators, bus supervisors, bus dispatchers, and vehicle maintenance foremen and mechanics. A lack of formal and regular knowledge sharing between the operations and maintenance functions can negatively impact morale, safety, and the transit agencyâs ability to deliver timely and reliable service. Transit agencies will be strengthened by implementing knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs that involve all Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM ignored. CoPs can be solely intra-agency, but also present opportunities for interagency communication. The key features of a CoP include the following:
6-13 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice and facilitated by a transit staï¬ member not directly involved in either function. This individual would be responsible for establishing a platform to capture the results of meetings and discussions and making the information accessible to aï¬ected employees who were not able to directly participate in the activities. Rationale for Implementing Strategy: Across focus groups conducted for this research project, transit agency participants shared that they are facing challenges with transferring knowledge to mid- and lower-level employees, especially in light of upcoming retirements. Many participants expressed that while it is important to share knowledge of policies and procedures, it is also critical to share knowledge regarding why the transit agency functions a given way, relationships and agreements with other organizations, and the political landscape and how it impacts local transit. This type of knowledge can be transferred person-to-person through forums and CoPs to increase employeesâ understanding of the overall transit agency and the environment in which it operates. Transit agencies could beneï¬t from implementing knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs because these activities can help facilitate relationship building and greater communication across the transit agency. Knowledge, experience, and lessons learned can be shared by seasoned employees, while less experienced employees can gather knowledge from someone elseâs experiences, ask questions, and ï¬nd a sense of support within the community. Action Plan Highlights Provides an opportunity for employees to ask questions and learn from other employees who are knowledgeable and experienced in a speciï¬c job function. Supports person-to-person knowledge transfer and is especially well suited for the sharing of tacit knowledge gained over the course of a career. Implementation Factors and Timeframe Type of Knowledge Addressed Explicit Tacit Embedded Estimated Time to Fully Implement 0â3 months 3â6 months 6 monthsâ1 year More than 1 year Time Required to Realize Results 0â2 years 2â5 years More than 5 years Relevant Positions or Types of Work: All positions and types of work. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM levels of operations and maintenance staï¬. Given the potential dysfunction in operations and vehicle maintenance relationships, these information and skill-sharing activities would be best implemented
6-14 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Action Lead(s) Transit agency leadership, HR associates or managers, supervisors, or frontline employees across all job functions Employees at all levels can lead this initiative, but HR associates or transit agency leadership may be needed to encourage buy-in Targeted Audience(s) Transit agency employees Experienced internal subject matter experts Newer employees passionate about a topic and sharing related knowledge Implementation Plan Steps to Implement a Knowledge-Sharing Forum or CoP 1. Inquire About the Community: Through a process of exploration and inquiry, identify the audience, purpose, goals, and vision for the community. This involves identifying critical topics that are important for knowledge transfer and ensuring that employees are able to learn from one another about relevant focus areas. This process also involves gaining an understanding of the guidelines that will beneï¬t potential members. Having a clear purpose in mind for the knowledge-sharing forum or CoP will ensure that all actions taken focus on achieving that purpose. 2. Design the Community: Deï¬ne the activities, technologies, group processes, and roles that will support the communityâs goals. CoPs are most successful when they have a clear statement of the vision, mission, and goals of the community. As such, it is important to clearly lay out the parameters of the community so that members know what is expected of them and what the CoP will accomplish. 3. Create a Prototype of the Community: Pilot the community with a select group of key stakeholders to gain commitment, test assumptions, reï¬ne the strategy, and establish a success story. Identifying employees for participation should incorporate a wide range of employees to bring varying perspectives to the group. This should involve holding an introductory meeting in which members meet one another and become acquainted. When members are comfortable with one another, the knowledge-sharing opportunity will be more eï¬ective. 4. Launch the Community: Roll out the community to a broader audience over a period of time in ways that engage newcomers and deliver immediate beneï¬ts. Holding regular meetings can help to keep community members engaged and encourage consistent ï¬ow of knowledge. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM 5. Grow the Community: Engage members in collaborative learning and knowledge-sharing activities and networking events that meet individual, group, and organizational goals while creating an increasing cycle of participation and contribution. 6. Sustain the Community: Cultivate and assess the knowledge created by the community to inform new strategies, goals, activities, roles, technologies, and business models for the future.
6-15 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Useful Internal and External Resources Resources for Strategy Implementation Dedicated transit agency staï¬ members responsible for implementing, sustaining, and evaluating the forums and CoPs. Resources for Sustaining Strategy Dedicated transit agency staï¬ members responsible for subjects to be addressed in forums and CoPs. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM A platform for capturing shared knowledge that allows access to the information, as needed. Assigned responsibility for a quality assurance component to ensure that participantsâ comments and questions are addressed, either by responding to them or ï¬nding the appropriate person to provide information on the matter. Examples of Eï¬ective Programs One part of NASAâs robust KM practice involves master forums. These forums bring together in a face-to-face setting current employees, contractors, and retirees to share knowledge and feedback regarding successes and failures across projects. Grant Thornton, a large accounting ï¬rm, views community and collaboration as a major component of its approach to KM. Therefore, a focus of their new intranet is to help employees connect to others who may have knowledge within the employeeâs area of interest. Here, an employee interested in the retail industry may âfollowâ another employee involved in retail. If that employee posts something related to retail on an online forum, it will populate on the other employeeâs homepage. This social interaction enables employees to easily connect, collaborate, build relationships, and eï¬ectively transfer knowledge. The Operations Manager of a smaller bus transit agency mentioned that the transit agency faces KM challenges as a result of hiring several subcontractors within Operations. Open communication and knowledge sharing between the subcontractors and the transit agency has become critical to maintaining a high level of safety and a satisfactory level of customer service. In this situation, knowledge-sharing forums could host communications between the transit agency and its contractors. Multiple knowledge-sharing forums could be developed based on contractor requirements and the area of focus of its activities.
6-16 Impact and Cautionary Considerations Positive Outcomes of the Strategy Breaking Down of Silos: Knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs help to break down silos and create opportunities for discussion and information sharing within a transit agency. Working together in collaboration with one another, transit employees are able to generate new knowledge or skills based on speciï¬c problems, issues, or challenges. Increased Ease of Knowledge Sharing Among Employees: Forums and CoPs support practical use of transit agency resources by promoting better solutions to problems and easier, faster access to knowledge. Forums and CoPs facilitate knowledge sharing internally within the transit + Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM agency. In knowledge-sharing forums, for example, individuals with questions can directly contact those who are experienced in a topic area. Additionally, forums and CoPs can decrease training periods for new employees because interpersonal knowledge-sharing structures are already in place. Improved Trust and Relationships: Implementing forums or CoPs can bring positive changes to a transit agencyâs culture. Mutual trust is developed between coworkers, a common language emerges, and networks are formed among transit employees. For transit agencies that operate within a union environment, forums and CoPs have the potential to break down the âus-versus- themâ culture that can often arise between union membership and transit management and supervisory staï¬. Opportunity for Employees to Develop Passion for Their Job and Build on It: Transit employees who are passionate about a subject and believe that their organization supports this passion will feel more positive about their organization and job, and the transit agency will more likely retain these employees. Particpation in a CoP creates an opporutnity for employees to share knowledge on a topic about which they are passionate and interact with others who have the same sentiments. Cautionary Considerations or Potential Negative Outcomes of the Strategy Active Participation Is Essential: Participants in knowledge-sharing forums and CoPs must be active for the strategy to be eï¬ective. Sometimes, these programs are not successful because participants are not committed, do not have the time, or do not see the immediate ROI of participation. CoPs and forums need to be actively supported by transit agency top leadership, attendance encouraged and, at a minimum, informally rewarded through positive feedback. â
6-17 Action Plan M: Implement Knowledge-Sharing Forums and Communities of Practice Diï¬culty Quantifying ROI of Knowledge-Sharing Forums and CoPs: While the forums or CoPs may provide participants with new knowledge and a place to have their questions addressed, the eï¬ectiveness or ROI of the activities can be diï¬icult to quantify because other factors occurring simultaneously in the transit work environment may contribute to knowledge and skills gained. These concurrent factors might include skill training; results of safety meetings; staï¬ meetings within individual functions; new directives emanating from federal, state, or local oversight entities; or simply a change in and improvement of functional leadership. Oversight Requires Additional Work: It may be necessary to have a KM governance plan that assigns transit agency subject matter experts the responsibility of monitoring forum and CoP content to ensure that questions are responded to, facilitators are keeping communication ï¬owing and discussions active, and verifying that posted content is relevant. Continuing Leadership Support Is Necessary for Success: Given that most transit agencies operate with less than optimum staï¬ng and ï¬nancial resources, there is always a danger that executive-level leadership will eliminate funding for KM-related activities. To oï¬set this concern, Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM ongoing work at ensuring leadership support is essential. Examples of how this can be achieved include highlighting positive transit agency outcomes that were gained through forums and CoPs and keeping the ï¬nancial drain on resources that support these activities to a minimum. Every transit agency has key inï¬uential employees at all levels of its organizational structure who have the potential to either negatively or positively aï¬ect other employeesâ perceptions. Thus, a vital step in implementing forums and CoPs and keeping them productive over time is ensuring that these inï¬uential employees are âbought inâ and understand the value of these activities. Communication Plan Process for Obtaining Buy-In Engage senior leaders in articulating the positive value of forums and CoPs to transit agency employees. To gain buy-in from leadership, provide details on expected ROI and the beneï¬ts that forums and CoPs will bring to individual employees and the transit agency as a whole. To gain buy-in from frontline employees, involve them in the early planning stages and celebrate successes. Share case studies of occasions when forums and CoPs were successful in sharing knowledge. These case studies can highlight the diï¬erent subjects that were covered. Valuable Communication Resources Create an intranet page (or other source accessible to employees) that lists the diï¬erent forums or CoPs and their subject areas. This page could also highlight the positive outcomes of activities that have already occurred. Develop a resource guide for new hires that explains how to register for and engage in forums and CoPs.
6-18 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Summary: Knowledge transfer is a key goal of mentoring programs. Mentoring allows experienced and/or knowledgeable transit employees to provide guidance and information to less experienced or knowledgeable employees through regularly scheduled formal or informal meetings and on-the-job observation periods. Mentoring typically involves pairing a junior transit employee with an employee who has greater experience and skills in a similar ï¬eld or function and a successful performance record. Mentoring programs also provide career support to new transit employees because the programs can help these employees navigate the organization, learn job requirements, increase job engagement, and enhance their career potential. As a result, mentoring relationships may increase employee retention and satisfaction, facilitate knowledge transfer, and build employee skill levels. Mentoring programs typically pair a new transit employee with a seasoned employee. Mentoring oï¬ers the opportunity for sharing tacit knowledge in an ongoing relationship that includes conï¬dential one-on- one conversations and learning activities. Mentees can develop personal relationships and work with their mentors to gather insights from time spent on the job and with the transit agency. The mentors guide mentees in how to successfully carry out their job responsibilities while helping them determine what they want to accomplish within the transit agency and how they can accomplish it. These personal relationships are a key means to gathering knowledge from experienced employees across the transit agency. Many transit agencies are experiencing key employees retiring at high levels. This can create problems for a transit agency when it lacks a workforce that has the knowledge to ï¬ll a retireeâs job position. Mentoring programs help guarantee that there will be employees skilled and ready to eï¬ectively step into open positions by ensuring that transfer of knowledge to the next generation of employees occurs. Building opportunities for tacit knowledge transfer through mentoring can potentially prevent the chaos, reduced productivity, and lack of continuity that could otherwise occur when employees leave the transit agency. With a mentoring program, there is an opportunity to develop identiï¬ed employeesâ knowledge, skills, and abilities and prepare them for advancement or promotion into more challenging roles. As an organization expands, loses key employees, and provides promotional opportunities, mentoring programs help to guarantee that there will be employees ready and waiting to ï¬ll new roles. Transit agencies generally spend considerable resources on new-hire bus operator training, including classroom and behind-the-wheel skill and route training. However, after the new-hire training is completed, bus operators are often left to their own devices. A mentoring program connecting junior bus operators and senior bus operators that facilitates an ongoing one-on-one relationship of some type could signiï¬cantly enhance junior bus operator revenue service performance. Similarly, newly promoted operations supervisors or dispatchers often receive limited training to prepare them for that leap in responsibility. A mentoring program matching experienced operations supervisors and dispatchers with their junior counterparts could reduce the usual long lead time that produces eï¬ective job performance. This type of mentoring program can also apply to the transit vehicle maintenance function by assigning newly hired mechanics to be mentored by experienced mechanics and newly hired maintenance foremen/supervisors to be mentored by their experienced counterparts. The eï¬ect of a comprehensive Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-19 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM mentoring program on overall transit agency operations or vehicle maintenance performance can be signiï¬cant in terms of reducing employee frustration, increasing employee knowledge and skills, and boosting quality of service and transit agency safety. Rationale for Implementing Strategy: Transit agencies could beneï¬t from establishing mentoring programs because mentorship increases employee engagement across multiple levels of employees within the transit agency. Mentorships allow new employees to realize their career and development goals and experienced employees to share their expertise and tacit knowledge. Additionally, mentoring increases communication across a transit agency, can facilitate relationship building, and can promote a KM culture. Within some transit agencies, there are eï¬ective mentoring relationships; however, these are often informal. Transit agencies can expand these informal mentoring relationships and support knowledge transfer by putting formal mentoring programs and policies into action. Eï¬ective knowledge transfer results in employees who are able to do their jobs more eï¬ectively and understand the impact of their jobs within the broader transit agency. Across industries, mentees in organizational mentoring programs display more rapid promotions, greater productivity, and higher competence and conï¬dence than those who do not participate in mentoring. Action Plan Highlights Provides an opportunity for new or junior transit agency employees to learn how to perform their jobs successfully and better understand the transit agencyâs culture and expectations through mentoring by a more experienced transit employee. Mentoring can be implemented successfully at every level and within every function of a transit agency. Supports person-to-person knowledge transfer and is especially well suited for the sharing of tacit knowledge gained over years of experience or the course of a career. Mentoring programs support an employeeâs ability to carry out existing job responsibilities, but also assist newly promoted employees to immediately hit the ground running and be productive. Implementation Factors and Timeframe Type of Knowledge Addressed Explicit Tacit Embedded Estimated Time to Fully Implement 0â3 months 3â6 months 6 monthsâ1 year More than 1 year Time Required to Realize Results 0â2 years 2â5 years More than 5 years Relevant Positions or Types of Work: All positions and types of work. Requires participation from both junior and senior employees across the transit agency. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-20 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Implementation Plan Action Lead(s) HR, Employee Development, or Training Manager, or another designated mentoring program coordinator Mentoring program steering committee/working group consisting of transit agency managers, supervisors, senior or experienced frontline employees, and junior frontline employees Targeted Audience(s) High-performing, senior, or experienced employees to serve as mentors New or less experienced employees to be the mentees Note: Ideally, it is much better if mentors and mentees are not in the same chain-of- command (e.g., a supervisor should not be the mentor for a subordinate; however, there may be circumstances where this is unavoidable due to a transit agencyâs organizational structure) Steps to Implement a Mentoring Program 1. Gain Support at the Executive Level: For a mentoring program to succeed, it will need senior transit agency leadership to commit to making it part of the transit agencyâs learning culture on an ongoing basis. A senior leader should either serve as the program coordinator or see that a dedicated program coordinator is appointed. Without strong senior leadership support, the mentoring program has a high probability of being less than successful due to lack of buy-in from transit staï¬ or eventually discontinued because focus and resources are applied to other transit agency priorities. Senior leadership has to understand and aggressively communicate that the mentoring program will positively support transit agency mission achievement. 2. Create a Mentoring Program Steering Committee: A steering committee should be created with employees from across the transit agency. This will ensure diï¬erent departments, functions, and all types and levels of employees are represented. The committee should include experienced employees, as well as relatively inexperienced employees. Before forming this committee, it is necessary to ï¬rst deï¬ne: a. b. The authority of the committee (e.g., does the committee have a ï¬nal say in how the program is created, or do they only provide guidance). Making sure that all steering committee members understand their role and what the committee will be doing helps ensure that time is spent eï¬ectively and the mentoring program is guided in a way that best suits the transit agencyâs needs. At a smaller transit agency, assembling a steering Creating a Successful Steering Committee A steering committee should consist of individuals who are committed to creating a learning culture within their transit agency. This committee should meet regularly before, during, and after the implementation of the program. The committee should help set goals, discuss progress, and evaluate the program. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM The scope of the committee (e.g., will they be involved in the day-to-day implementation of the program)
6-21 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM committee may be diï¬cult. In that case, the role of the committee could be played by the CEO and an individual designated to manage the mentoring program. 3. Design the Mentoring Program: With guidance and input from leadership and the steering committee, design the mentoring program by identifying program goals, participants, size, scope, and other details that will determine how it is implemented within the transit agency. The design of the mentoring program needs to focus on a variety of topics, such as the following: Program goals: Identify the goals that will be pursued through participation in the program, as well as how progress toward these goals will be measured. For example, a program goal could be to facilitate knowledge transfer from all division chiefs to employees within their division. Progress toward this goal could be measured by conducting a survey about the menteesâ knowledge after the program is complete. Structure of the program: Decide the timeline for the program, how often meetings will occur, and any other programming details for the mentoring program. As an example, the mentoring program could be set up to last six months, with a full-program orientation meeting in the ï¬rst month, a concluding meeting in the last month for all participants, and independent meetings between each mentor-mentee pair during each month in between. Program participants: Determine the types of employees or positions that will be included in the mentoring program, including the overall size of the mentoring program cohort. This can include identifying criteria for participants. For example, to be a mentor, an employee may need to have been with the transit agency for at least one year, be above a certain level in the organization, and be in good standing. Program resources: Identify the resources that will be required to implement and sustain the mentoring program. This could include physical resources such as meeting spaces, time, or funding for mentoring activities. It could also include other resources such as training or communication resources that will promote program success. 4. Develop Mentoring Resources: To help direct the mentoring process, a program participant guide is helpful. This guide should include key information about mentoring, such as what a mentoring relationship is, roles and expectations, example topics that can be covered in meetings, the duration of the program, expectations for the duration of meetings, and any other information that is relevant to the program or will help both mentors and mentees understand what will make their experience meaningful. The guide should clearly lay out the responsibilities of each participant in the mentoring relationship. An example follows. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-22 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM 5. Develop a Recruitment Strategy: Identifying participants for mentoring programs can be diï¬cult, so it is important to have a plan for eï¬ective recruitment. Some transit agencies have indicated that it is especially diï¬cult to ï¬nd mentors who are qualiï¬ed and willing to dedicate time to developing a mentoring relationship. As such, a key element of this strategy needs to be highlighting the beneï¬ts of the program and what participants can gain from it. The communication plan provided later in this section gives an overview of the type of information that could be shared as a part of a marketing strategy. 6. Match Mentors and Mentees: Once individuals have been identiï¬ed who are willing to participate in the program, mentors and mentees should be matched based on experience, interest, career goals, skills, and expertise. The goals of the mentoring program should dictate how matches are made. For example, new transit employees could be matched with someone in the same type of job who has at least ï¬ve years of experience as a means to transfer knowledge of the job to someone who will need it to carry out their responsibilities. It is important to match pairs in a way that creates opportunities for both parties to learn. The matching process can be conducted manually, but there are also several tools that can be purchased (e.g., MentorcliQ, Mentoring Talent by Insala) to aid with mentor matching. Creating mentoring pairs based on demographic factors (e.g., gender, ethnicity) can increase retention of minority employees and help mentees and mentors better connect. For KM purposes, it is best to make sure that pairs are matched based on the technical and non-technical knowledge that the mentee needs and the mentor is likely to have. 7. Conduct a Pilot: Conducting a pilot mentoring program allows transit agencies to gauge employee reception to the program. This pilot could be rolled out to a small, invited audience to serve as a test of how the program will work for the transit agency. A pilot should be implemented in the same manner as a full roll out would be to make sure that the program functions as planned, and both mentors and mentees understand their roles and how the mentoring program is structured. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-23 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Additionally, transit agencies can use a pilot to understand what aspects of the program should be tweaked to align with their organizationâs mission. 8. Facilitate Interactions Between Mentors and Mentees: Especially at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, it is beneï¬cial to coordinate an orientation meeting where mentoring pairs can meet one another and learn about the program and their roles. Additionally, activities to support the mentor-mentee pairs in developing their mentoring relationship, such as guest speakers or mentoring program celebrations, will ensure that there is a space in which the relationships can begin to develop. The orientation and other facilitated interactions help to meet the following objectives: a. Present information on the program, structure, roles, and resources available to support participants b. Provide opportunities to participate in a structured environment that encourages mentors and mentees to begin developing their mentoring relationship c. Build camaraderie among the mentor-mentee pairs and show participants who else is part of the program who could be a resource or another source of support. 9. Evaluate the Program at Regular Intervals: Gathering feedback from program participants on a regular basis helps to ensure that the mentoring program is meeting its goals, and knowledge transfer is occurring as designed. For example, brief âpulse surveysâ could be conducted quarterly to assess the eï¬ectiveness of the program and determine areas in which participants may need additional support or resources. Following completion of a mentoring program, the program coordinator should solicit feedback on positive aspects of the program. Useful Internal and External Resources Resources for Strategy Implementation Dedicated transit staï¬ responsible for implementing, sustaining, and evaluating the mentoring program A cross-functional and multi-level mentoring committee responsible for guiding the implementation and ongoing Resources for Sustaining Strategy Integration into existing transit infrastructure and culture Activities designed to focus on beneï¬ts and achievements of mentoring Questions to Ask During Program Evaluation: 1. How many times/how often did the pairs meet? 2. What goals were set as part of the mentoring program? Did you accomplish these goals? 3. How supportive has your supervisor been during the mentoring program (possible response scale: Very Supportive, Somewhat Supportive, Not Supportive, and Not Sure)? 4. What have you learned so far from the mentoring program? 5. What aspect of the program would you like to see improved in its next iteration? 6. How would you rate your program match? Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM operation of the mentoring program program activities
6-24 Examples of Eï¬ective Programs A midsize bus transit agency developed a six-month mentoring program. Participants were given an eï¬ective leadership self-study guide. These participants met weekly with a mentor who held a leadership position in the transit agency. The mentor gave reading assignments to participants and provided discussion questions related to those readings. These discussions provided mentees with insight into the transit agency management culture to help guide their understanding of the transit agency and illuminate their career opportunities. Employees who participated in the program met on their own time. There have been positive outcomes from the program, including promotions for participating mentees. The mentor program at a large multi-modal transit agency is identiï¬ed as helping the organization grow from within and invest in its workforce. There are 24 pairs of employees who participate in the formalized program for one-year increments. This low-cost strategy has increased retention and commitment to the organization, while preparing participants for advancement by facilitating learning and knowledge transfer from experienced employees. At Turner Construction, the implementation of a mentoring program occurred in three phases: knowledge sharing, relationship building, and identifying expertise. Initially, mentors were resistant to sharing knowledge, as they felt this diminished their value to the organization. These individuals were referred to as blockers. To ensure that the mentoring program could be eï¬ective, blockers were removed from the program. The result was a group of participants supportive of a knowledge- sharing culture. Identifying mentors as experts also helped to ensure mentors of their importance and reduce the vulnerability they felt with regard to being expendable. The FTA has implemented a Knowledge Management Program that includes a mentoring program. This program supports 15â25 mentoring pairs per year that participate in a structured mentoring environment. It also includes group mentoring activities for employees in lower grades. The mentoring program helps to enhance leadership skills and transit agency understanding at various levels of the FTA. An executive at a medium-sized bus transit agency stated that his organization has been dealing with loss of knowledge due to turnover. His transit agency started an informal mentoring program that included employees at all levels. The goal is for more experienced employees across the organization to pass their knowledge down to less experienced employees. The mentoring program is also used to provide employees with opportunities to increase their cross-functional knowledge base. For example, an employee from operations was assigned to spend time in vehicle maintenance to increase understanding of what mechanics do and how it impacts or is impacted by other functions of the transit agency. This employee then encouraged three supervisors to spend time in maintenance as well. Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-25 Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Impact and Cautionary Considerations Positive Outcomes of the Strategy Supports Career Goal Achievement: Mentoring can help newly hired or junior transit employees set and reach career development goals, which is likely to positively aï¬ect retention. Additionally, experienced employees are exposed to new perspectives; so there can be a two-way knowledge transfer. Valuable Relationships for Minority Employees: A lack of understanding about cultural diï¬erences can sometimes present challenges in the retention of minority employees, but some organizations have found success with mentoring programs geared to address this issue. In these programs, minority employees are able to personally interact with someone they can relate to as having a similar background to them and who has been successful in the organization, which increases their job satisfaction and intent to stay with the organization. Focus on Interpersonal Communication and Relationships: Mentoring can provide a medium for communication and relationship building between mentors and mentees, enabling them to collectively solve work-related challenges and seek support through group discussions with other mentor-mentee teams. In this way, it supports relationship building, knowledge sharing, and learning organizational culture. Reduces Turnover: Research has shown that mentoring helps to decrease employee turnover by providing career-related support, which increases employee commitment to the organization. Cautionary Considerations or Potential Negative Outcomes of the Strategy Should Be Used in Combination with Other KM Strategies: Mentoring should not be the only KM strategy used by a transit agency. Mentoring programs encourage knowledge transfer from individual to individual, so it is possible that this knowledge could get lost between the two individuals or that the person to whom knowledge was transferred wonât remain with the transit agency. To avoid these problems, consider holding forums with all program participants where they share information that they have learned as a result of the mentoring program. Careful Consideration Needed in Mentor/Mentee Matching: It is possible that some participants may not have a positive experience with a mentoring relationship. If this occurs, it is likely due to the pairing. To overcome this challenge, ensure that mentor and mentee pairs share similar interests/goals and that they both have adequate time to devote to the program. Additionally, regularly evaluating the program with each participant can help to identify problems in the mentoring relationship and make needed adjustments and improvements. â + Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM
6-26 Communication Plan Process for Obtaining Buy-In Valuable Communication Resources Action Plan N: Coordinate Mentoring Opportunities to Support KM Engage senior leaders in articulating the positive value of the mentoring program to transit agency employees. To gain buy-in from senior transit leadership, provide details on the beneï¬ts that the mentoring program will bring to individual employees and the transit agency as a whole. A senior leader or HR representative should take on the role of program coordinator to ensure buy-in at all levels. Develop a mentoring program guideline document that explains program goals and beneï¬ts, provides tips for maintaining a mentoring relationship, and gives examples of questions to ask about the mentoring program in general and in discussions between a mentor and mentee. Knowledge Capture Knowledge Retention KM Planning Knowledge Transfer KM Culture Intro to KM