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Themes from the Federal Mentoring Roundtable

I had a great time last week at the Federal Mentoring Roundtable. It was such a pleasure to see some old friends and to meet new faces. One of the things I enjoy most about attending events like this is getting to hear all the different situations people are encountering. As I was reflecting on all of the conversations I had and the great presentations I listened to, a few themes began to emerge that I wanted to share with you.

  1. Many of the organizations are concerned about sustaining mentoring initiatives. While this may seem like an obvious concern, it tends to move beyond simply maintaining interest in the program. Several organizations are looking for cost-effective initiatives to help initiate and enrich relationships between mentors and mentees. The success of the program is not merely longevity but also vitality.
  2. Measuring success. This has long been a concern of soft-skills training. Now with budget cuts people want to be able to measure success at the beginning of the initiative. This includes determining ways in which mentoring can help support the key objectives of the organization and how mentoring can be integrated into daily work.
  3. The multi-generational workforce of today has significant implications for mentoring. This is a “hot topic” with many of the decision makers in organizations getting close to retirement age. It is now more important than ever to find a way of retaining the vast knowledge of the elders while imparting the savvy of the younger. Consideration must be given to different ways of delivering mentoring training that appeals to Gen Y. Solutions such as reverse mentoring come to the forefront. People want easy to implement mentoring solutions that help the five generations at work increase their understanding of each other in order to develop synergies between the different generations in the workforce.
  4. It is important to develop champions of mentoring initiatives. Champions should be senior executives who understand how mentoring can support organizational objectives. The mentoring initiatives must be supported from the top in order for the program to be successful.
  5. Many agencies are looking for ways to more effectively communicate about mentoring programs. Should they use social media? Are there internal structures in place that they can utilize?
  6. A number of organizations talked about tools to help facilitate virtual mentoring. This was increasingly the case in organizations with geographically diverse populations. Many people wondered about the effectiveness of virtual mentoring and if loosing the “personal touch” of a physically present mentor might diminish the power of the program.

With all of this in mind I wondered… what are you the biggest mentoring challenges you are facing in your organization? Are there any tools you have come across that address issues such as these? If you attended the Federal Mentoring Roundtable are there additional themes you noticed?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Ken – Great recap of the day and nice to meet you in person. I missed the discussion at the end. Were these some of the themes that emerged during that time (in addition to what transpired throughout the day)?

Gordon Lee Salmon

Thanks Ken for the great summary. I wonder if agencies are open to cross agency mentoring programs which share their mentors to provide broader developmental perspectives. Was this discussed?