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Mentoring in Government

Mentoring is a process that focuses specifically on providing guidance, direction, and career advice. Mentoring 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 programs to enhance career and personal development.

Not all mentoring relationships are formed through formal programs. Informal mentoring 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 of which facilitate short-term mentoring relationships between a mentor and protégé.

  • 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.
  • Speed Mentoring is a method for individuals to receive information from one or more mentors in a time-controlled environment. Modeled after the 'Speed Dating' concept, both parties are provided the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences. Mentees benefit from the wisdom of their mentors, who in turn, benefit from the fresh perspectives their mentees bring.

Mentoring and Coaching in Government
Mentoring, like Coaching, is a ‘helping’ activity, which enables individuals to achieve their full potential. Distinct from mentoring, coaching is not based on the coach's subject matter expertise; rather it is based on the coach partnering with the coachee using established techniques and a thought-provoking and creative process to guide the coachee toward his/her goals without giving advice.


Solve Problems

(What are some mentoring resources available to me?)

Internet Resources

  • E-Mentoring is a mentoring relationship conducted via the Internet. E-mail can serve as the exclusive vehicle for mentors and protégés to connect, or act as 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. The Electronic Emissary and LearnWell eMentors are some examples of organizations who match online mentors with protégés.
  • Flash Mentoring and Speed Mentoring: is a website containing examples of how other organizations implemented Flash Mentoring programs. 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.
  • For those interested in learning how to mentor, the Office Of Personnel Management also offers training classes through its Leadership Development and Training website.

Agencies within the Federal Government even has business-to-business mentoring programs. Some examples include:

Stay Current

(What can I learn to help me refresh my knowledge base and add value?)

Mentoring is instrumental to maximize learning and development. The OPM Best Practices: Mentoring document is a tool that assists agencies in creating a business case for mentoring by outlining critical steps in developing and implementing a formal mentoring program. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has also created a Mentoring Program Toolkit that can be useful in developing a mentoring program. 

A number of agencies have implemented successful mentoring programs. Here are some examples:

Office of Personnel Management

OPM implemented a comprehensive, in-house Mentoring Program in the Fall of 2011. The program focuses on traditional one-on-one parterships as well as offers Group Mentoring with OPM executives through "Fireside Chats." Through these mentoring partnerships, OPM employees nationwide gain career guidance, improve professional skills, obtain a better understanding of OPM as an organization, increase their networking with colleagues, and enhance their own career development. For more information, please contact the CILPG Mentoring Team at

Department of Energy
The 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 toolkits for both mentors and protégés, and a general mentoring guide. For more information on the DOE Mentoring Program, contact Deadra Welcome at or refer to the DOE Mentoring Brochure.

National Nuclear Security Administration:
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a component of DOE, has 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 Victoria Frank at or refer to NNSA's Mentoring Brochure.

Department of State and USAID
The U.S. Department of State (State) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) run a joint formal mentoring program for their civil service employees. The program’s primary goal is to foster development and professional growth for participants. The program last nine months, and also helps participants understand the cultures of State and USAID and supports succession planning.

Civil service employees in both State and USAID can participate as either mentors or protégés. Foreign Service employees may participate only as mentors. Both mentors and protégés complete an application online, after which they may indicate their preferred partners (biographies and other relevant information are made available online). The pairs are matched by a Mentoring Committee, and are required to attend a one-day mentor/protégé skills training session. The pairs also complete a mentoring agreement outlining roles, expectations, and meeting logistics - mentors and protégés meet for two to four hours per month. Each protégé completes a mentoring action plan, identifying three of their developmental needs to be addressed during the program. During the program, pairs also have the option to attend mentoring forums and workshops, which 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

Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently began a pilot cycle and has over 100 mentoring partnerships.  Participants complete their applications and mentoring action plans online, where they can also access webcasts and library materials (e.g. articles of interest). For more information, please refer to the EPA Mentoring Brochure.

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,; 202.326.4110 (ext. 3182).

Department of Labor

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):
The Department of Labor (DOL)-ODEP funded a grant to create a Federal Workplace Mentoring Primer. The primer was developed for Federal employees to learn the basics of workplace mentoring. The primer is a complement to OPM's Best Practices Mentoring Guide, but includes information on diversity and includsion. To learn more about the primer, click here.

National Institutes of Health

The Federal Mentoring Roundtable:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosts a biannual 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

National Cancer Institute (NCI):
Since 2004, NCI has offered a comprehensive cohort mentoring program for employees at all grade levels. The Career Mentoring Advantage Program (CMAP) consists of monthly professional development sessions as well as formal mentoring relationships, and gives participants tools for professional growth over the course of one year. Participants build a strong network across the organization as they work with other members of their cohort to share best practices and lessons learned. For more information, contact the NCI Office of Workforce Planning and Development at

Health and Human Services (HHS):
The National Institutes of Health has a mentoring program geared towards helping all different types of professionals, from interns to senior-level staff, in developing and connecting. The program is used as a stand-alone or as a compliment to other development programs. Because of its flexibility, the program works with participants to meet them where they are. The program also offers an online matching system, workshops, networking, tools, and resources. For more information, visit or contact Rachel Pemble-Fahnert at, 301.496.0684.

The NIH-HHS Mentoring Program also has a GovLoop group. To join, login to GovLoop and search for NIH-HHS Mentoring Program under Groups.

Other Mentoring Groups:
In addition, an NIH-wide Mentoring Coalition meets regularly to cultivate and foster a mentoring culture across NIH. The Coalition covers a range of topics around mentoring including research statistics, sharing resources, trends, and innovative developments. For more information or collaboration opportunities, contact Rachel Pemble-Fahnert at, 301.496.0684.

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:

  • LinkedIn: Dubbed the World's Largest Professional Network; a popular social networking site for professionals.
  • The Work Buzz: An online community for job seekers, powered by CareerBuilder, containing a variety of professional articles and career advice.
  • Meetup: The world's largest network of local groups, striving to "revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize."

Discover Helpful Tips and Resources

(What other tools and resources including guides, articles and websites are available to me?)

How to Build a Mentoring Program:
toolkit developed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on how to develop and maintain an effective mentoring program (see above - Stay Current).

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.

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