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Mentoring Frequently Asked Questions

Mentoring Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does my supervisor need to give permission in order for me to participate in the Mentoring Program? 
Supervisory approval is required to apply for the 1-year guided program as your supervisor is responsible for approving mentoring meetings that occur during working hours. Once you get supervisory approval to apply and if you are selected, you will get instruction at the partner training on keeping your supervisor in the loop while maintaining the confidentiality in your mentoring partnership. The Mentoring Program sends out initial communications to your supervisor about program activities and expectations. We also request your supervisor’s approval in writing (via email) before we will match you.

2. How, or is, my supervisor involved in the Mentoring Program if I am participating? 
We recommend having a discussion with your supervisor once you start your mentoring partnership regarding your goals, meeting schedules and anything else you wish to share. We recommend mentors do not meet individually with your supervisor without your permission. You and your partner should agree, up front, on what is confidential and what is expected regarding your communications.


3. What can a mentor do for me? 
There are many advantages in having a USGS mentor. The top ten we keep on hearing about from other protégés include:

  1. A focus on professional development,
  2. career guidance,
  3. learning more about the USGS,
  4. increasing your professional network,
  5. developing a trusted counselor,
  6. improving your effectiveness on the job,
  7. improving technical skills,
  8. developing leadership skills,
  9. and support in leaving your "comfort zone."

4. Will participation in the Mentoring Program guarantee me a promotion? 
No. Participation in the USGS Mentoring Program is not a guarantee of a promotion. However, the relationship between you and your mentor will help you recognize what your particular strengths are and how to make the most of them. This self knowledge will help you in determining career direction, and skills gained during your partnership may help you to be a more qualified employee.

5. Will my participation in the Mentoring Program cost my office or division any funds? 
There is no “tuition” or fee for participating in the USGS Mentoring Program. The initial mentoring partner training is mandatory. Your cost center is responsible for covering your salary while mentoring.

6. Am I required to attend any training in connection with the Mentoring Program?
Yes. There is an online self-paced training, a real-time webinar via WebEx. During these initial mentoring partner trainings, you will meet your mentor, have several structured meetings, and get a chance to familiarize yourself with the expectations and concepts of mentoring. Your attendance at the mentoring celebration is encouraged, but not required. 

7. Will mentoring require a large amount of time? 
We recommend that mentoring partners meet initially on a weekly basis. Current partners report meeting from 2-4 hours a month initially. We hear a lot of creative tips from mentoring partners regarding fitting meetings into their busy schedules. Meeting for lunch, telephone meetings, using instant messaging are all possible depending on what you agree upon up front.

8. How will the Mentoring Program support my mentoring partnership? 
After your initial partner training, you will be invited periodically to attend one-hour mentoring webinars. You may also contact the program manager at any time with questions, concerns or ideas. We end your year in the USGS Mentoring Program with a formal celebration at the conclusion of your 12 month mentoring agreement.

9. How are mentors and protégés matched in the 1-year guided program? 
During the mentoring open season, applications are solicited from mentors and protégés from across the bureau via our Web site. The Mentoring Program Staff will work to match individuals based on the goals and qualifications listed on their application. We match to the needs of the protégé, finding the protégé someone who has the background and interest to help them achieve their developmental goals. A qualified mentor needs to be available in order to be matched. If, in the event we cannot find a suitable mentor, you will be asked to wait for the next rollout so we can find an appropriate mentor.

10. Is the Mentoring Program voluntary? 
Yes. Mentoring takes commitment and time on the part of both the mentor and protégé. It is very important that people choose to become mentoring partners in order to help the protégé achieve their objectives for the partnership.

11. Do you have to be in the same office, district, or even region as your mentor? 
No, co-location is not essential for a successful mentoring partnership. Whenever possible, we do try to pair within the same region. If co-location is important to you, please make a notation on your application and we will do our best to meet your needs.

12. I've heard the Mentoring Program is only as good as the mentor you get. What happens if it appears the mentorship match isn't working to either party's satisfaction? 
Once you have given your partnership some time and effort, if either partner determines that the match is not workable we have a "no harm, no foul" walk away clause in your mentoring agreement. The program coordinators will help you do whatever you want to do next, find another mentoring partner or not. Fortunately this has occurred in less than 1% of all mentoring partnerships to date.

13. Does the existence of a 1-Year Guided Mentoring Program mean I can't just pursue a mentoring partnership on my own? Doesn't mentoring occur spontaneously in the USGS?
The USGS Mentoring Program is not meant to replace, but rather supplement the excellent mentoring that has been occurring throughout our agency for years. The USGS Mentoring Program provides a chance to get educated about how to set up a good partnership and to make this developmental opportunity available for all interested employees. The USGS Mentoring Program is highly encouraged by senior management as there are many benefits to the individuals involved as well as to the organization.


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