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Mentoring in the Government (www.opm.gov)

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mentoring

Please refer to the Best Practices: MentoringPDF Format [120 KB] publication for detailed information on mentoring.

Mentoring is usually a formal or informal relationship between two people-a senior mentor (usually outside the protégé's chain of supervision) and a junior protégé. Mentoring has been identified as an important influence in professional development in both the public and private sector. The war for talent is creating challenges within organization not only to recruit new talent, but to retain talent. Benefits of mentoring include increased employee performance, retention, commitment to the organization, and knowledge sharing.

Within the Federal Government, mentoring is often a component in developmental programs like the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP), Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) Program, or the USDA Graduate School Executive Leadership Program (ELP). Many agencies run formal stand-alone mentoring programs to enhance career and interpersonal development. Formal mentoring programs have structure, oversight, and clear and specific organizational goals. Agencies implement formal mentoring programs for different purposes. Some of these purposes include:

  • To help new employees settle into the agency
  • To create a knowledge sharing environment
  • To develop mission critical skills
  • To help accelerate one's career
  • To improve retention

Informal mentoring is another option for employees to enter into a mentor/protégé relationship. An informal mentoring partnership has less structure and can occur at any time in one's career. The relationship is usually initiated by the mentor or protégé. Here are some of the following ways an informal mentoring relationship can be initiated:

  • A senior level employee seeing something in a younger employee and taking a younger employee under his or her wing and providing them advice and guidance to assist them with their current job or career goals;
  • An employee seeking out a senior level employee they admire and together they work to develop a relationship; or
  • A supervisor or a senior level employee recommends a specific employee to the protégé to receive mentoring.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) contacted various Federal agencies and private sector organizations with established mentoring programs. Listed below are some of the effective and proven practices used in developing a mentoring program:

  • Conduct Needs Assessment
  • Develop a Program Road Map
  • Gain Top Management Support and Commitment
  • Commit a Program Manager
  • Create a Steering Committee or Working Group

Listed below are some of the effective and proven practices used in implementing a mentoring program:

  • Develop a Recruitment and Marketing Strategy
  • Match Mentors and Protégés
  • Conduct an Orientation Program
  • Develop Instruction Guides for Mentors, Protégés, and Supervisors
  • Develop a Mentoring Agreement
  • Conduct a Pilot
  • Develop a Mentoring Action Plan
  • Provide a List of Topics to Discuss
  • Provide Developmental Activities
  • Conduct an End-of-Program Graduation/Recognition Ceremony
  • Conduct an Evaluation

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