Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Best Practice : Show-Me-the-Ropes Mentoring Program
Rock Island Arsenal’s (RIA’s) Show-Me-the-Ropes mentoring program was developed as an objective of the Affirmative Employment Program Plan. The program was instituted in 1992 to provide an opportunity for women and minorities to improve job skills, increase productivity/potential for higher level jobs, support the upward mobility of the participants through career development information, and improve morale.
The five members of the Mentoring Steering Committee program coordinate the selection and pairing of an employee with a skilled mentor for a six-month commitment of weekly, hour-long, formal meetings. During this period, the mentee is guided in setting goals; expanding knowledge of different careers; learning how the system works to select qualified candidates for various jobs; and building a network of contacts with the insight into what one can do to help oneself advance. A second six-month period is set aside on an as-needed basis for requested training. Additionally, an evaluation form is e-mailed to participants to complete and e-mail back. This has increased the response rate and response time for gathering the reactions and impact of the program.
The mentoring program has been useful not only for government installations in the current climate of downsizing and budget constraints, but also has positive implications for any organization wishing to eliminate under representation of minorities and enabling employees to help each other. In fact, other installations have shown interest in the program because of its benefits in providing the employees a sense of responsibility for their development. The program offers no guarantee of selection or promotion for participants; however if selected, participants are coached on ways to not just survive but to achieve their career goals. Participants specifically like the ability to build a personal network of contacts because they are usually able to find someone that not only helps them professionally but also personally. Participants also report that having a wider pool of talent to draw from allows them to discover alternate ways of accomplishing a goal that would not have been possible without the network.
Mentees report such benefits as help in defining and setting realistic goals and action steps; perspective on organizational structure, priorities, politics, and culture; connection with a person concerned with their development; feedback on effective behavior on the job; and information on how the system works and how to work within the system. Mentors include such benefits as the satisfaction in helping others; development of communication skills; the opportunity to gain insight about people in different organizational units and across cultures; and the opportunity to gain perspectives on their own career goals.
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Point of Contact for this survey.