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What should a person do who wants a mentor, but doesn’t have a program in their agency?
August 31, 2011 at 4:13 am #140041
I just got a lovely letter from a young leader who wanted a mentor. She said that her agency didn’t have a program. I sent her a copy of the Gov Loop’s mentoring program where they were pairing up leaders, but wondered if anyone had any other thoughts because I think their deadline is over or about to be over.
She also said she might be interested in mentoring. I get a letter a month on this topic from someone who is looking for a mentor- sometimes they ask me to mentor them, but I really can’t mentor everyone who asks.
August 31, 2011 at 9:19 am #140057
Charles A. RayParticipant
The lack of clear mentoring policies and programs across all USG agencies is worrisome – but it’s the reality we have to live with. My suggestion to this young lady would be to identify within her agency some senior people who have the requisite skills and experience that would benefit her, and then reach out to them to see if an informal relationship could be established. It doesn’t have to be called mentoring as such, but any senior person willing to be consulted, to listen and offer advice, is, in fact, a mentor.
She can also reach out to colleagues on sites like this to see if there’s anyone who can provide the information and assistance she seeks – through email. I have relationships, for instance, with dozens of people across a number of agencies, who I’ve met through GovLoop, LinkedIn and other networks. Our relationships are not formal, but when they have questions or problems they fire me an email, and I answer as time permits. When I don’t have the information they seek, I’m candid about it, and this usually leads to a discussion that enables them to come up with their own solution, and we both learn something.
Hope this is helpful.
August 31, 2011 at 11:20 am #140055
I agree with Charles. Also, if she’s new to the agency and doesn’t really know many people, and depending on the relationship she has with her supervisor, she might ask him/her for recommendations of people to approach.
August 31, 2011 at 11:22 am #140053
One possibility would be to ask the agency to establish a mentoring forum on their intranet where people seeking mentors or someone to mentor could find people who have signed up to participate in an informal mentoring program.
September 1, 2011 at 12:09 am #140051
Charles said exactly what I was thinking all day, before I could make time to reply. The first paragraph is important because it begins to “teach how to fish.” The act of pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone progressively builds leadership capacity.
September 6, 2011 at 1:02 am #140049
Great answers. The reason we set up the GL Mentor program was for this exact reason. A few agencies are great (like GSA) and have mentorship programs but most of them don’t (especially at state and local level…and field offices for feds).
We are currently in our initial 3 month pilot test with 50 matches (50 mentors, 50 mentees) – based on how it goes we hope to do more in the early part of next year.
I’m curious – what mentor set-up do you do with people you do accept? Regular phone calls? How often? Topics?
September 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm #140047
Dale, I would advise the young person to write an individual development plan of the competencies she wants to develop and then to seek out someone with those competencies. Agree to meet every week, bi weekly, etc for an hour in person if possible, by phone, or Skype and work to develop those competencies. If she wants for the agency to develop a mentoring program she may never get mentored.
I mentored a young person from April 2010-last Friday. We meet weekly for lunch in the cafeteria, unless we excused ourselves to the other. I helped him move from one job series to his dream job, to negotiate for more money and the best start date for him. He requested me to mentor him. I agreed because he was bright, ambitious, and much different than me in values. Additionally, I purposely picked him as my mentee, and a woman as my mentor, because they were much different than me and would increase my ability to leverage diversity.
September 19, 2011 at 2:13 am #140045
I have thought a bit about this – When I formally mentored, I met with people once a week in person or by phone. They usually set the agenda, but I would have an agenda too and add stuff. However, I woud love to hear from others on this, because I sometimes find the word mentor confusing. Would it work to talk to someone only once a month, for example?
September 19, 2011 at 2:14 am #140043
Can you give us some advice on waht she should say and how she should approach the person she selects for mentoring?
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