CP-14 - Contracting and Acquisition Career Program
SECTION XI - MENTORING PROGRAM
A. Overview. Mentoring is an important career development tool and is one means of acquiring the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to advance in CP-14. It is a process that facilitates partnerships between experienced members of an organization with less experienced individuals to enhance the associate's professional development and growth by sharing insights and experiences. The mentoring process promotes career planning, job enrichment, and potential for advancement. While "mentoring" programs do not guarantee promotions, mentoring partners (mentor and associate) receive mutual benefits. The associate gets help from "someone who has been there" and the mentor gains the satisfaction of helping develop high potential careerists. DA Pam 690-46 "Mentoring for Civilian Members of the Force" is an excellent general guide for the conduct of a mentoring program and for those interested in being either of the mentoring partners. DA Pam 690-46 should be in used in conjunction with ACTEDS Plans.
B. Concept. The intent of mentoring is to enhance opportunities for employees with the requisite interests and potential to become part of the Army leadership structure. The objectives of mentoring civilians are to prepare them to be the managers and executives required to meet future needs, to provide opportunities for employees to advance their own careers, and to help meet affirmative action plans and ensure equality of opportunity for every employee. Sharing in the knowledge and experience acquired by a mentor over many years supplements the skills, knowledge, and abilities already possessed by associates. The outcome will be that good employees become more competitive for advancement. Successful mentoring improves equality of access for Army employees and is fully supportive of the goals and objectives of the Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Employment Plan/Programs. Studies suggest that mentoring has a positive effect on associates. Associates rated themselves as having more influence, power, and access to important individuals than employees without mentors. They also report having more influence within the organization regardless of their gender, race, age, or organizational position. Mentors can assist the associate in mastering additional skills, knowledge, or abilities in specific areas, which enhance their prospects for success.
C. Conduct. Mentoring can be conducted on several levels: informal, semiformal, or formal in nature. Commands at any level may establish formal mentoring programs and this ACTEDS Plan is not intended to supersede those programs. The guidelines in the appendices of DA Pam 690-46 provide excellent tools that can be used by both the mentor and associate to establish and manage a semi-formal or informal mentoring relationship. Mentors should usually be two grade levels or more above the associate; although it is recognized that geography and organizational structures may sometimes preclude this. Associates should not be employees of a mentor. A ratio of one associate to a mentor is ideal, particularly if the mentor is to be optimally effective; however, there are those mentors who may be comfortable with more than one associate. DA Pam 690-46 describes the roles and characteristics of a mentor; individuals seeking a mentor should consider reviewing these and attempt to find an individual who meets as many of these attributes as possible. Conversely, the individual seeking a mentor should review the characteristics ascribed to an associate. Immediate supervisors should be supportive of employees entering into a mentoring relationship, but would-be associates should discuss their intent with their supervisors in advance. One of the potential pitfalls of a mentoring relationship is the possibility of a supervisor who is resentful or jealous of the relationship. Associates should be sensitive to similar concerns relative to co-workers not selected for mentoring or those who chose not to participate. Although difficult to resolve, the key to such problems is in stressing the professional nature of the mentoring relationship with colleagues, supervisors, and managers. Mentors and associates alike must be very careful not to allow their relationship to show or appear to be showing favoritism. Mentoring may create the appearance of other than a professional relationship. The relationship between mentor and associate is a professional one. Maintaining this professional relationship visibly and consistently can reduce, if not eliminate, perceptions that the relationships have any other purpose. This is particularly important when the relationship is cross-gender. Mentors and associates must ensure that their meetings are for clear purposes related to mentoring, that there is visible progress by the associate toward legitimate mentoring goals, and that office relationships between the mentor and associate remain professional.
D. Termination of the Mentoring Relationship. Ultimately there must come a termination of the mentoring relationship. This can result in complete separation, as when the associate moves on to another organization and location and severs any contacts, or in some form of continued contacts. It is not unusual that after the professional mentor-associate relationship ends, the two individuals will remain in contact as friends or close acquaintances. The important thing is that the professional mentoring relationship be clearly terminated so that the associate may continue his or her professional career independently, to seek other mentors, and perhaps to begin mentoring others. This may be one of the more important of the role model examples that the mentor will give the associate. The associate will, at some point, have benefited from a particular mentoring relationship to the extent possible at a given stage of career development. When this occurs, mentors must be able to gracefully remove themselves from the relationship. The associate may initiate the termination of the relationship. Ideally, the mentor should have been alert to the progress of the associate, and should suggest that the associate seek another mentor for a continuing stage of development. An alternative is to establish a term or duration of the relationship in an informal statement at the beginning of the mentoring relationship; this statement may serve as an informal contract between the mentoring partners, but could aid in clearly outlining fundamental expectations on the part of both parties.