May, 2000

New Media Have Role
In HR and Mentoring

Using the Internet and Intranet to deal with employees and for mentoring is in its relative infancy, a keynote speaker told a luncheon audience at a professional development session held April 26 as part of APEGGA’s three-day Annual General Conference.

Paul Johnston, a human resources specialist with Ernst & Young Consulting Services in Calgary, said compared to business-to- business Internet activity, "business-to-employees is just starting to receive attention. It’s certainly a poor cousin to business-to-business as far as usage and industry impact (are concerned)."

However, some firms increasingly are using electronic tools in the areas of employee self-services and enterprise knowledge management. It allows employees to tap into the collective knowledge of their organization and also breaks down geographic barriers.

Mr. Johnston noted that professional development traditionally has occurred through a combination of internal and external training, and through mentoring.

Companies’ ability to leverage technical knowledge and experience, he said, is "one of the drivers of their success in the marketplace." With knowledge ( "the heart and soul of the value of an organization") dispersed more widely among more individuals in different locations, he added, "the effectiveness of mentoring often diminishes."

"The electronic knowledge-base supports the traditional mentor role, allowing mentors to focus on the more important elements and to handle a large number of students."

A consequence is employees who, with the appropriate tools, take greater charge of managing their careers. More effective employees, should speed delivery of products and services to the market.

"Using the Internet or the Intranet for knowledge management," said Mr. Johnston, "is both a daunting yet powerful approach for getting the information out of people’s heads and into an accessible and transformable format."



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