3 steps to making it easier for top performers to share knowledge

How do I engage employees and improve collaboration? is a question I have been addressing in my posts Make a newbie welcome and more engaged,, Integrating and engaging a newbie How an engaged newbie can become a top performer and A top performer’s career development.

Leslie has been a top performer for some years as Leslie has moved from one role to another.  Leslie has agreed to mentor people as part of their career development.

There isn’t one standard way to mentoring.  From my experience as a mentor and running a mentoring programme, it is the personalities of the mentor and mentee (protegé), the needs of the mentee and the ways and frequency of contact between them which can create a dynamic, enriching and long relationship or quickly fizzle out to nothing.

Leslie has the right characteristics to be a mentor.  Leslie has broad experience, is a natural collaborator – willing to share ideas and listen to different views, and deep knowledge of many areas of common interest with the mentee to explore.

There are three steps to make it easier for Leslie.

Digital workplace

A digital workplace helps to give the relationship more opportunities to develop successfully between a mentor and mentee.  Before it could be a combination of email, texts, calls or face to face meetings that helped nurture and grow a budding relationship into a strong friendship which can last for many years and extend into their personal lives.

The digital workplace means a blog post of interest can be shared with each other for comment, collaborating in a shared workspace on a subject with each other or with other trusted people that can help is easy to do.  Using micro-blogging for direct messages as well as re-sending useful comments is great.  Having a video call instead of a face to face meeting takes less time, effort and possible delay to fit with other commitments.

Most importantly is the degree of subtlety that a true friendship needs.  It means a quick tweet or micro-blog comment helps keep the relationship ticking over when previously no response could chill things for a while and need more time and effort to repair……………..or even worse, lead to a terminal decline and end of the mentorship.

Use the full range of options that a digital workplace offers for how you communicate to find out what works best for a mentor and mentee.

Performance management

You need a framework that rewards a mentor and mentee for their time and effort and value that an organisation gains from helping accelerate the career development of a potential future top performer.  While some mentors will be happy just to have some informal recognition, maybe meet their mentee in their own time, for the majority some formal reward is needed.

A performance management framework enables this to be given in an appropriate way.  For the mentee, a personal development plan, reviewed regularly with their line manager, can include the progress with the mentor (without breaking any personal confidences).  This helps to plan future development and work that maximise the mentee’s engagement to the organisation.

For the mentor it gives a more subtle choice.  It may not be a promotion or pay rise but a formal recognition award could motivate the mentor and with publicity encourage other top performers to consider being a mentor.  It may help with the future career path of the mentor who wants to progress into a new field of work using the skills learnt mentoring.


None of this will be possible without the right strategy, values and behaviour for the organisation the mentor and mentee works in.  Creating the right environment for collaborative working; feeling we are all part of one big team; seeing the bigger picture and how everyone contributes to the overall success; being clear what is the direction the organisation is moving in; all of these help mentoring.

Without the right culture a performance framework would focus only on individual performance and what is being done now, not in the future.

A digital workplace wouldn’t happen.  The old view “if you are out of my sight I don’t know what you are doing” would stop it dead in its tracks.

Combining these three key factors will mean you have a very good chance of many strong mentorship helping the mentee, mentor (like Leslie) and the organisation.

My last post in this series will cover what happens to the knowledge when a top performer leaves an organisation.

4 responses to “3 steps to making it easier for top performers to share knowledge

  1. My PC desktop is my ‘digital workplace’. When I talk to colleagues on the phone I’m in a ‘digital workplace’. My keyboard is the place my digits work. Do you mean MS Office?

    This new term for what we all know and love (apparently from some recent ibf posts!) as an Intranet is so fraught with alternative meanings it becomes impossible to define. If you must introduce a new term for what intranets are gradually evolving towards, perhaps ‘online workplace’ would be more fitting?

    • Hi Adam,

      Good point.
      I see the digital workplace as more than just an intranet evolving.
      The intranet is a key component of the wider digital workplace.
      The digital workplace means you can work from anywhere that has connectivity not the same physical workplace.
      The digital workplace means you can work online using the latest news, corporate policies that a traditional intranet would have plus applications to complete tasks and collaborative tools – discussion forums, blogs – as well as micro blogging.
      The digital workplace means you are best measured on your output and outcomes rather than occupation of an office space.
      Workshift is the term most used in the US for the digital workplace.

      Hope this helps.


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