Mentoring in the Workplace: Spreading the Knowledge

Sharing Knowledge

We often hear about the need for gaining and sharing organizational knowledge to further our careers, reach our goals (and create new ones), and make connections in various industries.

One of the best ways to share knowledge is also a vital part of the leadership toolkit – mentoring.

Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring is an essential leadership skill, and encompasses the professional development of others. Mentors show others the ropes, answer questions, and guide mentees in the direction they need to go.

When a new employee first meets with a mentor, the first question often is this:

What can you tell me about your experience at this organization?

Mentees must get oriented to their working environment and learn how to handle the challenges it poses. The mentor serves as a guide through those challenges with advice and constructive criticism, while paving the way to the mentee’s next goal or challenge.

Throughout the process, mentors build on their acumen as leaders and information sharers.

Sharing Knowledge

Sharing organizational knowledge is an invaluable part of mentoring, as much as it is a way to keep an organization’s business practices. Mentoring to share knowledge is different from traditional mentoring, in that there is more emphasis on practical applications than on organizational culture or building networks.

The key is to combine both types of mentoring.

Sharing information about an organization and teaching about its culture, mentors offer mentees a richer experience and a more complete picture of the organization and its needs.

Types of Knowledge

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, distributing, and using knowledge, and considers an integrated approach to sharing the information assets of a given organization. These assets include policies, databases, documents, procedures, and the expertise and experiences of individual employees.

KM looks primarily at two types of knowledge, explicit and tacit, which are the primary types of knowledge imparted to employees, especially via mentoring; a third type, embedded knowledge, can be found in processes, organizational culture, and ethics.

  • Explicit knowledge is codified, and can be found in documents and databases.
  • Tacit knowledge is more intuitive and is rooted in experience, context, and practices.

Learning How to Teach

One way to look at mentoring is to imagine teaching someone how to ride a bike. The act of learning to ride the bike is the tacit knowledge, while a set of precise instructions on how to ride the bike is the explicit knowledge. And embedded knowledge is the “rules of the road” to keep in mind while riding the bike.

Establishing mentoring relationships are crucial to fostering leadership skills and professional development, both for mentors and mentees. Mentors ensure the transfer of organizational knowledge and offer guidance to those who may one day become leaders themselves; mentees benefit from learning about their roles and the organization.

So how are you doing at creating an atmosphere and workplace that actively relies upon sharing knowledge, experiences, and expertise? If you are not doing this, what steps can you take now to implement a process of systematic mentoring to help people learn, grow, and develop? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Linda R. Ranieri

Linda R. Ranieri is a Graduate Student in Communication
She works in the Medical Testing and Assessment Industry
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The Importance of Leading Your Future Today

6 Do's and Don'ts of Reputation Management

Leadership today requires much more than just doing your job with the people who you lead. It now involves your public persona. 

This reality impacts your ability to influence with the global reach of the Internet. Things that you say and do are now are on display and can impact you, your role, and the organization that you work for. These things also have a funny way of staying around into perpetuity.

Your reputation, your role, and your business can change overnight with just a single Tweet.

If you are online doing business today, then you should understand a few things about your online reputation. First of all, you need reputation management no matter how small – or how big – your company may be. Secondly, you must understand how to properly use reputation management in the modern world of business.

This article will discuss some of the things that you must do as well as things from which you must stay away!

6 Do’s and Don’t’s of Reputation Management

1) Claim and complete all of your social media profiles

Because of the way citations are done, completing all of your major social media profiles will give you a boost in all of the search rankings.

Make sure that you have a profile on these sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • About.me
  • YellowPages

and any reputable niche social media sites that are relevant to your industry.

Fill out these profiles as completely and uniquely as possible. Keep the address the exact same on all profiles. Do not abbreviate if you can help it. List a local number that matches with the zip code that you are advertising instead of an 800 number.

This will help to maximize your search listing juice and will help fill the search engine result page (SERP) with online profiles that you control.

2) Don’t rely on your personal websites alone to get the job done

Most people will find your business from your major social media profiles at the start of your campaign. You may be able to redirect traffic from those places to your landing pages later on, but the major websites will always have a juice that your personal websites will probably never attain.

Starting multiple WordPress or Tumblr accounts to build a link profile will probably serve you in a negative way, as the major search engines are all against this technique. They have protection mechanisms against it. And these thin, minimal blogs will have very little chance of ranking well themselves for your brand or personal terms.

Yet there are many who still try to rely on building dozens of micro-blogs for their business in order to try to overcome negative content on the SERPs.

3) Do take time to build an authentic online presence

Not only does authenticity help you with your human visitors, but the major search engines love it as well. If you are seen as an expert guest blogger and you are on reputable sites, then these sites will often appear high in the SERPs for your branded terms.

If the information that you tout matches your social media personality, this maximizes your effort. As a matter of fact, you may want to take the time to use Google Disavow to disconnect your landing pages from any spam techniques that you may have employed previously.

Poor links to your site are tantamount to being seen in a bad neighborhood.

They’re simply bad for your online reputation.

4) Don’t try to downgrade your competition with fake reviews

Not only is this a waste of time, but review sites like Yelp.com are actually quite good at determining what may be a fake review and completely destroying it. On top of this, if they link it to you, then your business suffers.

Even if you do get a few fake reviews up, your time is much better spent making your own reputation positive, as creating negativity for a competitor does not help your visibility at all.

5) Do be proactive when you see something that needs to be fixed

You should look at authentic negative reviews as an opportunity to fix a problem before your competition gets to fix it and take your business away from you.

Many companies will use an aggregation program to see if there are any trends in the comments that people are making. The company mentioned can then devise a strategy based upon these trends rather than guessing at their next PR move.

6) Don’t ignore your online reputation and try to fix it at the last-minute

Why should you never do this? First of all, it never works. If people have already run your name through the mud, then you will spend a great deal of time trying to play catch up rather than improving your ranking online.

As you learn how to incorporate the tips above into your everyday marketing online, you will see a gradual but consistent shift in your online visibility. Keep this up for the long-term, and your business will eventually occupy a position online that will be very hard to usurp.

As the reputation of your business ages online, it crystallizes. Make sure that you give it the best chance to crystallize as a positive for your business.

So, how well have you done to make sure that your online persona is working well for you? Are you represented well by having a comprehensive mindset and approach to your online presence? What steps can you take to cast a positive light on you, your organization, and the opportunities ahead of you? I would love to hear your thought!

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Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods Behind their Success
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L2L Weekender: Leading Socially Responsible Investing

Is Socially Responsible Investing A Realistic Strategy To Follow?

Socially Responsible Investing

Is your leadership going above and beyond what you do as a boss? Are you thinking beyond your day job or your specific corporate role and looking into how your decisions affect a bigger picture?

And are you considering how your influence on a personal level can impact local, regional, national, or international concerns that can benefit society as a whole?

To be sure, anyone in a position of leadership has learned specific skills that are felt in the immediate realm. The question becomes can you lead in a different way that utilizes your skills and helps promote wise investments in a much longer-term way?

Investing Your Influence

If you have been recently surfing the web and browsing through sites such as the ones owned by Fisher Investments and other companies in search of investment information, you may have come across a term that baffled you.

While sources, such as the Fisher site, may contain a capsule definition of the term “Socially Responsible Investing,” you may still be wondering what this term actually amounts to in practice.

You may also be wondering if such a strategy is even possible to adopt, or if it is the right one for you to employ in the course of your own investment activity.

What Is Meant By “Socially Responsible Investing?”

A concise definition of “Socially Responsible Investing” might run as follows: Investment activity by people who wish to support or reward companies for engaging in activity that they feel is beneficial to the international community.

For example, a person who follows the Socially Responsible Investing strategy might choose to invest in companies whose activities coincide with their own deeply held political, economic, or ecological beliefs.

They may make use of the technique of shareholder advocacy. This is the technique by which they use their power as a shareholder to influence the policies of the company they invest in.

For example, they may use this technique to influence the company into adopting better safety standards, abandoning dangerous industrial practices, or giving better pay and representation to female or minority employees.

A Practical Use Of Socially Responsible Investing Techniques

People who make practical use of their socially responsible investing principles tend to screen the companies they are willing to invest in according to three general principles.

The first principle is known as the “Negative Screen.”

The negative screen basically boils down to a practical refusal to invest in any company that sells products or engages in activities that the investor personally views as harmful or immoral.

This could translate into a refusal to invest in a tobacco company, or an oil company that is prone to oil spills and other activities that affect the environment in a negative way.

What Is The “Positive Screen” Technique?

The “Positive Screen” technique involves the investor giving their support to a company that they feel not only earns its profits in an ethical manner, but also uses these profits to support causes that the investor also approves of.

This could mean anything from a company that supports wildlife conservation to a business that engages directly in the construction and distribution of environmentally friendly solar panels.

Keep in mind that the definition of “Positive” is a highly subjective one, and will differ greatly depending on the mindset of the person who makes use of such criteria.

What Is The “Restricted Screen” Technique?

The final screening technique is usually known as the “Restricted Screen.” This means that the company in question may engage in activities that the investor may highly approve of, but may also be involved in other activities which raise a red flag of caution in their mind.

The dilemma is normally resolved when the investor weighs the effects of the company’s “positive” activity against the “negative,” and makes up their own mind whether to go ahead and invest in this company or not.

Leading Outside of Self

When a leader takes on a much larger role in which to influence decisions and uses those skills to better society, they are able to create a legacy that goes beyond their corporate role or day job.

Investing in areas that bring about a better planet is a great way to be able to look into the mirror and feel confidence and maturity about using your skills and talents toward something big.

So how are you doing in developing your personal professional skills in your career? And better yet, how can you take those skills and make a personal commitment to use those skills and talents to leave a large footprint on your leadership legacy? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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How Leaders Can Created Informed Employees

Part 1 of 3

Employee Knowledge

Your employees are your lifeblood, and as a leader, one of your most important tasks is making sure they stay happy and productive.

There are thousands of techniques you can use to boost employee satisfaction and output, but one of the more overlooked options is creating informed employees.

Informed employees are more likely to become engaged employees. They feel ahead of the curve, valued, and confident in the direction your company is heading. As a result, they’re more likely to be loyal, spread positive cheer about your brand, and feel more personally invested in the work they do.

Knowledge Is Power

It’s easy to get caught up in the need for speed, efficiency, and frugality — and leaders across the globe are constantly searching for ways to cut costs and run lean. But employee satisfaction often takes a backseat in their attempts to do this, and making this mistake can have major negative effects on a company.

A survey of more than 300 randomly selected businesses showed that the lowest-performing firms were more focused on cutting costs and boosting productivity than on developing customer and employee relationships. Further, 45 percent of these low performers fell short of their net profit goals as a result.

When employees don’t know what’s going on, they feel much less connected to their companies. It becomes harder for them to do their jobs, they don’t feel any real urgency to create high-quality work, and their productivity declines.

Because they aren’t engaged, they’re less willing to collaborate with peers and go the extra mile. They become bored, start going through the motions, and check out.

What It Really Takes to Inform Employees

Informing employees takes more than sending cheesy, cheerful company newsletters and maintaining an office bulletin board. It requires transparency, creativity, and technology.

Use the following four guidelines to ensure you’re informing your employees the right way:

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Creating a culture of transparency is ideal, but it’s no easy task. Fifty percent of employees say that a lack of transparency holds their company back, and 71 percent feel their company fails to spend enough time explaining its goals. It’s up to you to empower your managers to take ownership of what they communicate. Tell them they need to honestly and directly communicate with employees, explaining the “why” behind every company initiative.
  1. Consistency is key. Be consistent and frequent with your approach, and always make it clear that communication is a two-way street. In a recent poll, 85 percent of employees said they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news, followed by encouragement to ask questions and give opinions. If you decide to hold monthly staff meetings, stick to the schedule. Only cancel or reschedule them when absolutely necessary.
  1. Make it fun and easyMotivation and gamification strategies are great ways to increase engagement — and technology can play a major role in making informational exercises fun for employees. In one study, gamification led to a 48 percent increase in engagement and a 36 percent reduction in turnover. Perhaps you can create a fun video featuring executives, along with short quiz questions, to replace antiquated compliance trainings. Or you might create an app or immersive digital experience for performance reviews. With today’s tech, the possibilities are endless.
  1. Open your earsInformed employees must feel they have a voice. They have nothing to gain from hiding their insights from co-workers, so if you give them a platform to express themselves, they’ll be more likely to share and collaborate. The more informed they feel, the more likely they’ll be to share feedback on what’s working and what isn’t.

When you successfully keep your employees informed, you’re setting the stage for a more productive workforce — one that will ultimately return the favor and speak highly of your company.

Boosting communication and informing employees is just the first step. Next, you need to engage them to the point that they follow through with action.

For more on this, see Part 2 of 3 and Part 3 of 3.

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Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
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7 Ways Leaders Can Hack Into Their Own Life

Tips From a Former FBI Counterintelligence Agent

Hacking Your Mind

As an FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent, I spent twenty-four years investigating people. But the most important life I ever investigated was my own.

When I sleuthed out my own story, I could begin to pinpoint patterns in the way my mental toughness was developed over the years—the times I’d persevered in business and life, and won.

Just as importantly, the times I’d given up and sold myself short.

Hacking Into Your Own Story

You can do the same by hacking into your own story so you can apply the same knowledge to understanding your behaviors, traits, and strengths. You learn which ones move you forward in business and life, and also identify the ones that hold you back.

In my book, Secrets of A Strong Mind, I discuss many ways to hack into your own life.

Here are 7 ways:

1. Take Ownership. FBI new agents spend a great deal of time defining their strengths, talents, and skills so they can quickly lean into them when confronted with risk, uncertainty, and discomfort. The secret to strong living in both business and life is being able to repeat instances of success again and again.

Hack tip: Train yourself to recognize your strengths by recalling a time when you reacted to adversity in a way that moved you forward in the direction you wanted to go. Chances are good that you responded from a place of strength, so take ownership of it by acknowledging it.

2. Strut Your Stuff. It is not uncommon for FBI agents to move assignments several times in their career. Over time, they will settle in one area of expertise that has been defined, in large part, by their strengths, talents, and skills.

Hack tip: Keep your strengths easily accessible by constantly working to develop them so you can call them into action when you need them. When you use your strengths, you’re in the zone where the right decisions come to you. You feel challenged in the way you like to be challenged.

3. Admit you’re not perfect. Survival in hostile and volatile environments often requires an honest assessment of talents and skills. A small but agile FBI agent may be a good choice for a SWAT assignment; a brawny but empathic agent might be used in sensitive interviews. The most competent agents are those who have identified their weaknesses so they can navigate their career in ways that allow them to minimize exposure to areas where they lack proficiency.

Hack tip: Do not worry about what was left out; instead, develop what was left in.  It is the mark of a strong and wise mind to respect your weaknesses so you can anticipate your response and minimize their impact. Read Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.

4. Keep moving. FBI agents are placed in a variety of fast-moving situations. There is no time to let a self-limiting barrier keep them from confronting an adversary or pushing ahead in an interrogation. Constant training throughout their career allows agents to continually move though barriers, because the closer they get to them the more they can educate ourselves about them.

Hack tip: Break your barriers by continually pushing beyond the the limits you have set for yourself. You do not need total clarity to move forward. Many times, the steps to follow and actions to take will not reveal themselves to you until you have moved closer to the very thing that creates fear inside you.

5. Get emotional. FBI agents know that emotions like fear and anger are OK. It’s complacency that will kill them. A little emotion keeps them on their toes. Agents understand that an emotion like fear is their early warning system in fast-moving situations. Their awareness of the fear doesn’t mean they back away from the unknown because they don’t know what they’ll find; instead, they move forward with caution and strategy.

Hack tip: Acknowledge your emotions for what they are rather than let them lead you towards poor judgments and irrational behavior. Learn how your brain recruits your body to express emotion. Understand what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it. Emotions are often a pacifying system to deal with stress, and as such, can be excellent indicators of a change in our environment.

6. Put yourself under surveillance. FBI agents routinely place the target of their investigation under surveillance to uncover patterns in their behavior. It is an essential first step in an FBI investigation. A surveillance log is kept, and once a target’s normal routine is established, it’s much easier to recognize aberrant behavior.

Hack tip: Keep a log of everyday activities so you can pinpoint situations that influence your attitude or behavior. Rather than reviewing your daily activities as a linear recitation of facts and figures, scan them so you can identify highlights: specific experiences that produced a reaction or moved you in some way. Once those experiences have been identified, you can drill down further to see whether you responded the same way on other days or in different circumstances.

7. Scare yourself. Much of the training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia involves moving new agents out of their comfort zone. If instructors aren’t challenging new agents physically, intellectually, and emotionally, they aren’t doing their job. It’s not a bad thing to be alert and uncomfortable. Training does not encourage agents to become paranoid, but a little discomfort keeps a person from becoming too comfortable with past or current success.

Hack tip: To gain a better awareness of your behavior in situations of risk, uncertainty, and discomfort, go out of your way to place yourself in uncomfortable situations. Expose yourself to activities that you might ordinary avoid because you’re worried about the downside. Your awareness of your reaction to risk, uncertainty, and discomfort is more acute and focused when you purposely place yourself in these situations. Use them as a learning tool so you can anticipate your responses when confronted with the real thing.

What tips would you add on how to hack into your life? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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LaRae Quy
LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Empowering the Leader in You
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
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