Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

Blog archive

What are the ingredients of a successful mentoring experience?

Most federal employees have had a mentor at some point, but it might not have been the greatest experience for one reason or another.

In the context of federal employment, a mentor can provide tremendous value to a younger or new employee who is unfamiliar with the agency's structure and processes. Yet formal mentoring programs often fail because people are mismatched.

Given that mentoring is a great idea in the public and private sectors, the question then becomes: How do you make mentoring a successful endeavor for both parties?

While contemplating that question, here are a few more: What qualities does a great mentor or mentee possess? What problems should a mentor address? And should agencies establish formal mentoring programs or encourage employees to set up those relationships on their own?

I will be asking experts for their opinions on those questions for an upcoming article on mentoring in the government. But I’d also like to hear readers’ thoughts on effective mentoring strategies and have them share their personal experiences.

What advice would you give to other feds interested in becoming a mentor or mentee?

Priscilla Guthrie, former Intelligence Community CIO at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in an interview that she believes it’s up to the mentee to take the lead in the relationship by defining clear goals and arranging a schedule to meet or chat over the phone and follow up.

Guthrie said the best mentors are people who have a broad understanding of the world and aren’t competitive with the person they are advising. “If you pick someone who is not comfortable with themselves, they tend to not be as good a mentor,” she said.

According to Guthrie, mentoring is a “significantly underutilized opportunity” in the federal government. What do you think?

Posted by Alyah Khan on May 12, 2011 at 12:20 PM


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.