How are you managing through ambiguity? What does business continuity even mean any more?
Business continuity is the art and science of keeping an organization running smoothly through changes. Of course, at Pollinate we are always looking at business continuity and putting contingency plans around our platform, but in the world at large, some workforce stability has previously been required for ensuring we’re safeguarding the practicalities and the narrative around what’s most important, where we’re going and how we will get there. Business continuity at its best assures us that when people change, knowledge of what, who and how-to is somehow retained in the organization.
When disruption is all around us, I see leaders having to choose whether to try to preserve knowledge and process or to give up and start the sometimes long and expensive process of starting again. Even with all of the movement in the market, we could do better. Of course one thing would be to retain the keepers of the knowledge. Another is to create excellent collaboration and knowledge transfer skills within the organization. This seems particularly important as we’re at a level of change where people need to be empowered to move knowledge around without it being necessarily part of an initiative.
Mentorship programs can play a valuable role in supporting business continuity by fostering knowledge transfer, skill development, and a collaborative culture within an organization.
Here are several ways mentorship programs can enhance business continuity:
1. Knowledge Transfer:
- This is an obvious one, but requires intentional dedication of time. Pair experienced employees with less experienced ones to facilitate the transfer of institutional knowledge.
- Create mentorship relationships that focus on specific critical functions or processes to ensure that key skills and information are passed on.
2. Succession Planning:
- Identify potential successors for key roles within the organization through mentorship programs.
- Ensure that individuals in critical positions mentor others to prepare them for potential leadership roles.
- Use mentorship programs to encourage cross-training among employees, enabling them to understand and perform tasks outside their primary roles.
- This cross-training can help mitigate the impact of disruptions by having employees who are versatile and capable of filling multiple roles.
4. Skill Development:
- Align mentorship programs with the organization’s skill development goals and business continuity needs.
- Provide mentors and mentees with opportunities for joint training sessions or workshops to enhance relevant skills.
5. Emergency Response Training:
- You may not have thought of this but mentoring networks can also transfer critical knowledge in a crisis. Include elements of emergency response and crisis management in mentorship programs to ensure that mentees are well-prepared to handle disruptions.
- Encourage mentors to share their experiences in dealing with crises and to guide mentees on effective response strategies.
6. Relationship Building and Collaboration:
- Foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork through mentorship relationships.
- Encourage mentors to facilitate team-building activities that strengthen relationships among team members, fostering a sense of unity during challenging times.
7. Continuity Plan Review:
- Include mentorship programs in the regular review and testing of business continuity plans.
- Mentors can guide mentees in understanding their roles and responsibilities within the context of the continuity plan.
8. Communication Skills:
- Develop mentorship programs that emphasize effective communication skills, particularly during times of crisis.
- Encourage mentors to share best practices for clear and concise communication with team members, stakeholders, and the public.
9. Adaptability and Innovation:
- Mentors can be trained to instill a mindset of adaptability and innovation in mentees, emphasizing the importance of finding creative solutions during disruptions.
10. Monitoring and Feedback:
- Establish a system for monitoring and providing feedback on the effectiveness of the mentorship program in supporting business continuity.
- Regularly review and update the mentorship program to ensure its alignment with the organization’s evolving needs and goals.
By integrating mentorship programs into your business continuity strategy, you can build a more resilient and adaptable workforce, better equipped to navigate challenges and ensure the continuity of critical business functions.
Christy Pettit is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Pollinate Networks Inc.
For 25 years, Christy has developed new approaches and best practices for agile, effective organizations worldwide. She is an expert on matching people and organizations for applications including knowledge transfer and mentorship programs, flexible virtual and hybrid teams, and productive organizational and business ecosystems and networks.