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Training and Development Policy Wiki

Page History: Mentoring and Coaching

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Page Revision: 6/26/2012 12:49:00 PM

Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching 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[1]:



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. [2]

Solve Problems

(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 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 - This website contains examples of how other organizations implemented Flash Mentoring programs. Cheryl ndunguru

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.

Stay Current

(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 1 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. Office of Personnel Management

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 the DOE Mentoring Program, contact Deadra Welcome at

DOE Mentoring Brochure.pdf

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 Victoria Frank at

NNSA's Mentoring Brochure

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

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA recentely began a pilot cycle and have over 100 mentoring partnerships.  Participants complete their applications and mentoring action plans online.  Also, participants have access to webcasts and library materials, including articles of interest, etc.  EPA has participants from some of our regional offices.  They can send e-mails to their mentoring partners, etc.


Here is their program brochure:

EPA mentoring brochure.pdf

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

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, Executive and Leadership Coaching Program

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers executive coaching to GS-14's and above. These individuals may self refer to the executive coaching program. NCI also offers a leadership coaching program for GS-12 and 13s. These individuals may participate in the program pending supervisor approval. For more information contact Nicole Vennell at

Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (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 on


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

National Institutes of Health - Health & Human Services Mentoring Group

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

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:

Here 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.

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.

The Career Coach is In:
Career coach Marshall Brown writes articles for Washington Post online on how people may achieve success in their lives.

The Federal Coach:
Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service writes a blog on Washington for Federal employees on leadership development.


[1] Coaching and Mentoring – what’s the difference, BREFI Group,

[2] Formal and Informal Coaching, Wishful Thinking,



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