Page Revision: 10/27/2010 12:16:58 PM
Mentoring and Coaching
Coaching and mentoring are both ‘helping’ activities, employed either as distinct interventions or together as part of a package of personal development, that enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Mentoring is a process that focuses specifically on providing guidance, direction, and career advice. Coaching's primary emphasis is on maximizing people's potential by working on their perceptions, self-confidence and creative drive. Here is a table of distinct differences between the two:
Focus is on career and personal development
Focus is generally on development/issues at work
Agenda is set by the protégé with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles
The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals
Ongoing relationship that can last for a long period of time
Relationship generally has a set duration
Can be more informal and meetings can take place as and when the protégé needs some advice, guidance or support
Generally more structured in nature and meetings are scheduled on a regular basis
More long-term and takes a broader view of the person
Short-term (sometimes time-bounded) and focused on specific development areas/issues
Mentor is usually more experienced and qualified than the protégé. Often a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities
Coaching is generally not performed on the basis that the coach needs to have direct experience of their coachee’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused
Mentoring and Coaching programs can be either a standalone program or part of a training and development program within an organization. Organizations, including Federal agencies run standalone formal mentoring and coaching programs to enhance career and personal development.
Not all mentoring and coaching relationships are formed through formal programs. Informal mentoring and coaching programs may also be effective in your organization to help facilitate these relationships. Two examples of informal mentoring are Flash Mentoring and Speed Mentoring. Both facilitate short-term mentoring relationships. Flash and Speed mentoring are short-term meetings between a mentor and protégé to share knowledge and experiences. Flash Mentoring is usually a one-time meeting between a mentor and protégé either in person or virtually. Modeled after the Speed Dating concept, Speed Mentoring is a method for individuals to receive information from one or more mentors in a time-controlled environment.
Informal coaching may occur in everyday workplace conversations. Informal coaching does not have an overall beginning or end. It is an ongoing process in which the coaching conversation becomes open-ended. Supervisors may adapt informal coaching as a management style when providing feedback to employees. 
(What are some mentoring and coaching resources available to me?)
For those interested in learning how to mentor and coach, the Office Of Personnel Management offers training classes through its Leadership Development and Training website.
E-Mentoring is a mentoring relationship conducted via the Internet. E-mail can be the exclusive vehicle for mentors and protégés to connect or it can be an additional communication tool for those who ordinarily meet in person. Either way, e-mentoring shares the goal of face-to-face mentoring: establishing a trusting, nurturing, positive relationship between the mentor and the protégé. Here are some organizations who match online mentors with proteges:
· The Electronic Emissary
· LearnWell eMentors
The Federal Government even has business to business mentoring programs. The SBA, Department of Defense, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have mentoring programs and conferences:
Flash Mentoring is a “one-time meeting that enables an individual to learn and seek guidance from a more experienced person who can pass on relevant knowledge and experience.” The concept was created by 13L, a group of mid-career Federal employees passionate about leadership and leadership development. A website was created to promote Flash Mentoring - http://www.flashmentoring.com/. This website contains examples of how other organizations implemented Flash Mentoring programs.
Speed Mentoring is a method for individuals to receive information from one or more mentors in a time-controlled environment. The mentee benefits from the wisdom of experience and mentors benefit from fresh perspective gained from someone just entering the field. The U.S. Coast Guard has developed a Speed Mentoring Toolkit that may be useful to agencies who want to host a speed mentoring event for their employees.
(What can I learn to help me refresh my knowledge base and add value?)
Mentoring and coaching are instrumental to maximize learning and development. The OPM Best Practices: Mentoring document is a tool to assist agencies in creating a business case for mentoring with an outline of the critical steps in developing and implementing a formal mentoring program. The Patent and Trademark Office have also created a Mentoring Toolkit that can be useful in developing a mentoring program. The American Management Association’s document Coaching: A Global Study of Successful Practices explains results of a survey of more than 1,000 business leaders around the world on effectiveness of coaching as a means of increasing employees’ individual productivity. These documents can be useful in developing, maintaining and evaluating your mentoring and coaching programs.
A number of agencies have implemented successful mentoring programs. Here are some examples:
U.S. Department of Energy:
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has adopted a comprehensive approach to formal and informal mentoring. DOE’s mentoring website contains resources for mentors and protégés. Included in DOE’s website are profile sheets and tool kits for both mentors and protégés, and a general mentoring guide. For more information on DOE’s program, contact Deadra Welcome at Deadra.Welcome@hq.doe.gov
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a component of DOE implemented an online mentoring program. The online mentoring program uses an interactive website and database to connect mentors to protégés in NNSA facilities across the country. The program helps protégés assess their needs, find mentors and schedule sessions. For more information on NNSA’s program, contact Jeffrey Vargas at Jeffrey.Vargas@nnsa.doe.gov
U.S. Department of State and United States Agency for International Development:
U.S. Department of State (State) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) run a joint formal mentoring program for their civil service employees. The program’s primary goals are to foster development and professional growth for participants. The program also helps participants understand the cultures of State and USAID and supports succession planning. The program lasts nine months.
Civil service employees in both State and USAID can participate as either mentors or protégés. Foreign Service employees may participate as mentors. Mentors and protégés complete an application online. Once their applications are completed, mentors and protégés may indicate their preferred partners after viewing their biographies and other relevant information online. The pairs are matched by a Mentoring Committee. Participants are required to attend a one-day mentor/protégé skills training session. During the nine months, mentors and protégés meet for two to four hours a month. The pairs complete a mentoring agreement outlining roles, expectations, and meeting logistics. Each protégé completes a mentoring action plan. The plan identifies three developmental needs of the protégé to be addressed during the program. Pairs have the option to attend mentoring forums and workshops during the program. These forums and workshops focus on skill and career development.
State and USAID also run a situational mentoring program. Situational mentors may help employees solve a particular problem, find an expert to answer a question, teach new skills, or help an employee complete a project. Situational mentors can lend assistance for as little as a one-time meeting to discuss a problem or as long as it takes to complete a long-term project. Situational mentors may also provide guidance and support that can last throughout one’s career.
For more information on State and USAID’s mentoring program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) currently supports two formal mentoring programs for non-supervisory employees: one for PBGC non-supervisory employees in grades 5-11, and one for PBGC non-supervisory employees in grades 12-14. Mentors for the grades 5-11 group are PBGC non-supervisory employees in grades 12-15, while mentors for the grades 12-14 group are supervisors and managers from grade 14 to Senior Leader level.
The Mentoring Program for Non-Supervisory Employees helps to develop a diverse, informed and high performance workforce by providing a framework in which program participants can broaden their knowledge of PBGC, enhance their skills and abilities for personal growth and increase their sense of involvement in PBGC.
For more information on PBGC’s mentoring program for non-supervisory employees, contact Barbara Clay, Career Development Program Manager, email@example.com; 202 326 4110 ext 3182
Department of Justice, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms:
The Stepping up to Leadership Program (SUTL) is a twelve-month aspiring leaders program for non-supervisory GS-9s, 11s, and 12s. The program includes a mix of formal coursework, leadership competency assessments, and personally assigned activities aimed at developing the leadership competencies of program participants. Participants spend approximately eight hours a month on program activities, which include monthly (web-based) training sessions, online team meetings, and individualized learning using online courses available through the agency’s Learning Management System (LMS). The SUTL program is evaluated using monthly training surveys and a final leadership assessment measuring the change in leadership competency scores for each participant. Costs are limited to the purchase of leadership books. All other costs of the program are offset using existing training resources within the agency.
For further information please contact Bill Thimmesch, Program Manager, at 202-648-7293.
Every year the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosts a Federal Mentoring Roundtable. This is a free event that provides a forum for discussion about mentoring challenges, opportunities and successes. For more information contact James Dean at James.Dean@nih.hhs.gov.
(What can be done to create mentoring and coaching opportunities?)
Professional associations, alumni gatherings and government and industry conferences and events are good places to find potential mentors and coaches. In today's tech-savvy world, some find mentors/coaches via:
Discover Helpful Tips and Resources
(What other tools and resources including guides, articles and websites are available to me?)
Evolution of Coaching in the Federal Government:
This article explores the evolution of executive coaching and how it is used in the Federal Government.
How to Build a Mentoring Program; A Mentoring Program Toolkit, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: This is a toolkit developed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. PTO) on how to develop and maintain an effective mentoring program. If you would like to have a copy of the toolkit, please contact Rosemary Saberton or Al Halstead.
The Manager’s Mentors, Inc:
The Manager’s Mentors, Inc. (MMHA) is an organization dedicated to enhancing the total quality organization’s results and productivity of self-directed individuals. MMHA provides articles on their website, workshops, and consulting services.
Triple Creek Associates Mentoring:
Triple Creek Associates Mentoring provides free resources to share knowledge and best practices. These resources include a free monthly newsletter, research on mentoring, articles, case studies, podcasts, webinars, and videos covering mentoring and knowledge sharing.