At the beginning of the year, GovLoop had a vision for launching the first-of-its-kind, government-wide (Federal, state and local) mentors program. I’m excited to report that our vision was realized! As 2011 comes to a close, I wanted to provide a summary of the project and where we’re going with it in 2012.
Here’s a timeline of the program’s development to date:
May 2011: Launched the program to mentors in May 2011, seeking to “front-load” the project with at least 50 mentors. We hit that goal within 3 weeks.
July 2011: Announced it to potential mentees at the Next Generation of Government Summit and more than 50 prospects immediately formed a line to sign up. Within a few days, the number of potential mentees topped 100 participants.
August 2011: Hosted a virtual kick-off event for the three-month pilot program in which 50 mentor/mentee matches committed to 3 months of participation and 2 meetings per month.
Mid-August to Mid-November 2011: Invited the pairs to meet 6 times between August 22 and November 18, without structuring the content of their meetings.
- 93% of mentees felt the program was successful in helping them grow personally and/or professionally
- 89% of mentees indicated that the program was “effective” or “very effective” in providing professional support and career advancement
- Roughly half of the mentees thought that 3 months was too short, with 43% advocating for a 6 month program and another 42% seeing 3-4 months as the ideal amount of time.
- Over 90% of participants (both mentors and mentees) indicated that they plan to (a) continue their formal mentoring relationship after the program and (b) participate in the program again to be involved in another pairing
- Only 16% of participants considered the geographical distance (the program was nationwide) to have a negative effect on their participation and 34% indicated it had no effect.
Through the GovLoop Mentors program, I developed new contacts, increased my awareness of other opportunities for professional development (training, professional organizations, etc.) beyond those I was aware of, I gained a better understanding of the qualities of a good leader, and I improved my ability to effectively communicate what my agency does to someone from outside my agency. As a result of discussions with my mentor, I had a very positive discussion with my supervisor during my performance review where we addressed my interest in moving into a management role. My mentor gave me good advice and encouragement for how to start this conversation.
“[My mentor] looked at my resume and immediately noticed what was missing and what assignments I should work to add to my expertise and make myself more marketable. He saw the big picture and reminded me what to focus on accomplishing.”
“We explored some challenging questions and worked on an application for a leadership development program at my mentee’s agency. We discussed how to best handle it should she not be selected and some ideas on how to create a briefing on partnering across boundaries (she had a great example of working with her IT person to develop a tool – had to work through understanding requirements, building the relationship, describing expectations, etc) I thought is might make a nice briefing for a variety of audiences and encouraged her to work on it. We also discussed possible shadow assignments and next steps for her career.”
“I have very much enjoyed my mentorship, and we plan to continue it after this pilot ends. In particular, my mentor has given me excellent advice on how to handle different situations at work and helped me examine issues that are common across federal Departments. Even when I don’t have a specific question in hand, we have wonderful conversations that make me step back and think about issues differently than I otherwise would.”
“My mentee and I had great success in our mentoring partnership due to mutual respect, trust, openness and a genuine desire to learn from each other and better ourselves. We both have a very strong work ethic and try to do our best every day. As “overachievers” we very often question ourselves, and our similarities in that respect were very helpful and lent a sense of comfort to our discussions. Over time, I felt that the mentor/mentee designations became blurry as a result of how much we both had to contribute. He is very wise and I learned a great deal from him over the last three months. Jeff is also one of the best listeners I have ever talked with and always comes prepared with insightful, thought-provoking questions. I look forward to our conversations just to hear his perspectives and hopefully offer some sage wisdom of my own along the way.”
Please note: I have a lot more data and feedback, so if you run a mentor program in government and would like to compare notes, I’d be happy to connect with you and share more of our lessons learned.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
During the three-month pilot period, the program continued to grow as more and more prospective mentors and mentees signed up to participate in the next iteration. The program roster now includes:
- 240 Mentees
- 140 Mentors
Based on participant recommendations, we plan to lengthen the program to 4 months and run two programs in 2012. We also intend to host a couple in-person events with each program in order to facilitate interaction and strengthen the relationships of mentors and mentees. Those events will be live-streamed for people participating across the country. Finally, we are still leaning toward limiting the number of participants in each iteration in order to facilitate strong matches and ensure optimal support from the GovLoop team.
We are also reaching out to government member associations to increase the number of mentors and would like to explore the potential for running pilots with organizations that serve personnel based on core functional areas of government (i.e. acquisition, budgeting / finance, communications, human resources, information technology, project / program management, etc.). If your organization is interested in participating, please contact me!
In the meantime, I’d invite you to join the program by clicking the button below: