The Federal Coach: The first rule of mentoring

Although it’s been a short week, I had some interesting comments around the importance and impact of job mobility and other issues confronting our government’s rising leaders. Please continue sharing your ideas and questions by emailing me at [email protected] or posting in the comments section below.

Q: I’m a newer federal employee, and I would like to find a mentor to help me grow as a leader. Where should I begin?GS 9 Federal Employee

A: Okay, the first rule of mentoring is, you do not talk about mentoring. Most people who look for mentors make the mistake of asking someone to be their “mentor.” It scares people off. It’s like asking someone to marry you on a first date.

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Tom Melancon

I agree. I signed up for my agencies formal mentoring program years ago, and I’ve yet to get a nibble. On the other hand, I’ve developed a network of friends, some of them peers and some that are higher up the federal food chain. None of them are considered formal mentors, but I use them often, informally to suplement my decision making process and to advise me on career matters. Lunch is a good way to start, or coffee if that suits you. Just start talking and the rest usually works itself out.