Human Capital

Why Mentoring

“People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.”   —Oliver Goldsmith

The USGS Mentoring Program is a tool that provides cost-effective training and development to all participants, encouraging professional and personal growth. It is an effective form of training with a personal side that provides unique benefits to both mentoring partners. It is a Bureau-wide program open to all USGS employees regardless of grade-level or position. It provides a mentoring opportunity for all USGS employees, regardless of years of service, to seek a mentor. Those seeking to be a mentor in the USGS Mentoring Program are generally required to have five years or more of USGS employment.

The USGS Mentoring Program meets the needs of scientists, support staff and employees from every discipline within the USGS. Our partnerships encompass traditional mentoring partnerships consisting of one to one mentoring as well as mentoring circles consisting of one to many. Many partnerships are not co-located and budget constraints have made it necessary to incorporate many new technologies and resources.

The USGS Mentoring Program gives participants the gift of growing, supporting informed risk-taking so that participants can reach their potential and often exceed their expectations. Participants not only build skills, but confidence and leadership as well. They leave this program prepared for the opportunity to lead well, manage wisely, and keep the USGS on the forefront of excellent science.

The USGS Mentoring Program offers many different types of mentoring to meet the ever changing needs of the USGS employees. In allowing for different types of mentoring, doors are opened for employees to participate who could not do so under the constraints of the traditional mentoring approach.

Protégé Benefits:

  • Personal and Professional growth
  • Acquisition of new technical, interpersonal and/or leadership skills
  • Acculturation

Mentor Benefits:

  • Opportunity to hone own leadership skills
  • Expanded network
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Re-energized

USGS Benefits:

  • Deliberate, systematic knowledge transfer
  • Reinforced positive organizational culture
  • Satisfied employees
  • Structured specific learning for new employees


The following is an excerpt from the article, "The Business Case for Mentoring" published in 2009 in the Linkage Leader.

Mentoring develops leaders.
Mentoring directly affects an individual’s ability to succeed as a leader. Both mentees (proteges) and mentors benefit from the mentoring partnership and increase their leadership skills.

“66% of companies using mentoring programs found that they created new leaders and fostered new career development.” (Goldstein, Seth. “Company Finds Working Together Helps Productivity.”)

“95% of Menttium 100® mentees (proteges) indicated that their participation in the program better equipped them to take on leadership roles. (Menttium program survey)

Mentoring retains key talent.
Mentoring, when associated with other strategies meant to improve retention, has a long-term and significant positive impact on retention.

“The loss of a single professional employee can cost a company between $50,000 and $100,000. Losing key talent often costs significantly more, since these employees contribute a disproportionate amount of the organization’s intellectual capital.” (Fortune Magazine) “77% of all companies surveyed state that mentoring is an effective tool to increase the retention of valued employees.” (Best Practice Resources)

Mentoring supports diversity strategies.
Results from a study conducted by sociologists from Harvard, UC-Berkeley, and the University of Minnesota concluded that mentoring worked better than diversity training and networking in increasing the number of women and minority leaders in management. (Time Magazine)

Mentoring teaches and encourages knowledge sharing.
Mentoring, when broadly deployed, builds a learning environment, encourages knowledge sharing, and helps build productive internal networks. This reality becomes more acute when we consider the labor market demographics over the next ten years.

Some Facts and Figures
CMSI Mentoring Solutions, a leader in mentoring research and development conducted a survey of 378 companies. What they have found is that mentoring programs have been proven to improve job retention, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Among the companies using mentors:

75% reported improved work performance;
67% reported higher job retention;
63% reported reduced absenteeism;
52% reported that mentoring resulted in a cost savings for the company
One of the top three factors affecting career growth is mentoring.

CMSI Mentoring Solutions, a leader in mentoring research and development conducted a survey of 378 companies. Mentoring has been related to positive career outcomes for protégés (CMSI Mentoring Solutions, 2005).

  • 71% of Fortune 500 companies and private companies use mentoring in their organizations to ensure that learning is happening within their organization
  • Training alone increases managerial productivity by 24%; the combination of mentoring and coaching increases productivity by 88%.
  • 15-20% of standard formal training is relevant to employee needs; 100% of mentoring is relevant as it is tailored to the individual needs of the employee. Mentors can impart specific knowledge and expertise which contributes to protégé learning and skill development (Kram, 1985).


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Kim Miller

Leadership/Mentoring Program Manager
Office of Employee Development
Phone: 304-743-5429