Mentoring in Moments of Need

shutterstock_156626948-221x122In a previous blog, I wrote about using strategies for supporting performance when and where the need arises for employees to help themselves. Where training cannot possibly transfer all technical information for working tasks, there are Job Aids, Standard Operating Procedures, onsite experts, and other information sources that serve as “external” storage (other than memory) to support on-the-job activities critical to maintaining operational efficiencies in manufacturing.

Making provisions for performance support is only part of the equation because it assumes that employees will seek out needed resources on their own and at the appropriate time. For the most conscientious worker, this might be the case; for others, objective “human” involvement is vital Through Mentoring Supervisors. Subject matter experts can identify where assistance is needed and use coaching opportunities to transfer knowledge or point to available help.

As employees with their own job responsibilities, however, mentors have limited time and are challenged by the uncertainty as to when mentoring will be needed most. Mentors can get clues from a model created by Dr. Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher, which defined five distinct moments of need for providing performance support.

  1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New)
  2. When people are learning more than what they have learned (More)
  3. When they need to remember or act upon what they have learned (Apply)
  4. When problems occur or things don’t work the way they were intended (Solve)
  5. When things change, requiring people to learn a new way of doing something (Change).

Formal or informal training events support learning something new or when something is added to what they know. From there, support shifts from “learning” to “doing” in the last three moments—when applying knowledge, solving problems, and learning new ways under changing conditions while on the job. By recognizing these moments or even anticipating when they might occur, mentors can proactively seek opportunities to assist employees. And as employees respond to coaching, the guidance will encourage the self-reliance they need to help themselves.

Being an expert on the job isn’t the same as being an expert Mentor. At the very least, recognizing when workers are operating in Apply, Solve, and Change modes should prompt increased awareness of mentoring opportunities when they are needed most. We help manufacturers foster Mentors so that knowledge transfer is part of every day operations. If you would like to learn more about how Mentors can help transform your plant floor, give us a call today.