In Their Own Words: Reflections from a Mentor and Mentee on Their Experience in U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Professional Mentoring Program
If you're a fan of birds, fish, and wildlife in general, then you'll really appreciate what The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is doing—both on the field and in their offices.
According to its website, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior. Our mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."
In 2009, USFWS selected MentoringComplete, Management Mentor's online mentoring software, for the launch of its corporate mentoring program. Management Mentors also provided training that helped prepare USFWS employees to get the most from their mentoring relationships.
A year later, the first batch of mentors and mentorees completed the program. Here's a look at the benefits experienced by one mentor and mentoree—Vincent Mudrak and Craig Aubrey, respectively—from their participation in the program. Vincent is the Director of Regional Fisheries Center Complex in Warm Springs, Georgia. Aubrey is the Coastal Program Coordinator located in the Charleston, South Carolina, Ecological Services Office.
In their own words…
From the Mentor:
"Our relationship was facilitated by early face-to-face meetings, where open dialogue and free expression instilled a feeling of mutual trust. And through the year, the relationship strengthened and changed from mostly professional to mostly personal.
"Although both mentoring parties gained in the relationship, I believe the USFWS will in the long-term gain the most. The Regional Directorate deserves credit for their vision and commitment to implementing a mentoring program that should enhance the internal culture, productivity, and professionalism of the agency. In this regard, the service mentoring program will need to continue to locate people who are ready, willing, and able to make a commitment to 'give something back' to the agency which has been so good, for so many.
"What follows are the exact personal feelings of our mentoring pair, as we recently closed our formal mentoring session. These are the benefits we identified from the relationship."
Benefits to the Mentor:
- Gained an increased appreciation of service roles
- Increased my resolve to value other opinions and view points
- Improved my outlook and appreciation of the personal and pr ofessional needs of my current staff
- Became a better listener (helps in my office)
- Recognized that the next generation is prepared to lead USFWS
- Got to know a very nice person—as a friend—and learned a lot of new things that I found interesting
- Solidified my appreciation for USFWS as a family
From the Mentee:
"The mentoring program was very valuable. My mentor and I addressed two of the Service's leadership competencies: visioning and strategic planning. This included interviewing stakeholders, reviewing documents, preparing a vision statement, and updating my program's strategic plan consistent with national, regional, and field office priorities. I was using the document almost as soon as I completed it and know that it will benefit my program.
"As a result of this process, I am also now more experienced with these two leadership competencies. In addition to the specific goals that my mentor and I addressed through the program, I benefited in many other ways. I received career advice, exposure to another program, and much appreciated feedback from an objective third party. Lastly, and most importantly, I gained a new friend who I will be able to turn to in the future."
From Management Mentors:
"We're thrilled with the experience that this particular mentor and mentee had. It's important to note that this isn't an isolated experience, either. When an organization, such as USFWS, takes the time to strategically develop and implement a professional mentoring program, these are the types of results that can be expected: new insights for the mentor, more confidence for the mentee, increased respect for the organization as it invests in its people…and so much more."
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