Federal CIO Council Mentoring Program






Federal CIO Council

Mentoring Guide









The CIO Council Federal IT Workforce Committee wishes to acknowledge the efforts the CIO Council Mentoring Program Team members and others who contributed in the development of the Framework for the Federal CIO Council Mentoring Program and the Federal CIO Council Mentoring Guide.


CIO Council Mentoring Program Team


Tom Horan, Program Leader, General Services Administration

Iona Calhoun, Program Manager, General Services Administration

Annie Barr, General Services Administration

Judi Gerber, Department of Treasury

Susan Murphy, General Services Administration

Cheryl Johnson, Department of Justice

Richard Kellett, General Services Administration

Alethea Long-Green, Department of Commerce

Nora Rice, General Services Administration

Col. Michael Turner, Department of Defense



Special Appreciation:


The Federal CIO Council Mentoring Program Team would like to acknowledge and give special appreciation to the following GSA employees, Patricia Smith and Charlene Blanco, for their assistance and for sharing their PEC General Mentoring Framework with us.


In addition, the Federal CIO Council Mentoring Program Team would like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the DOT Mentoring Handbook that was used as the generic foundation for the Federal CIO Mentoring Program. 










This document may also be found on the CIO Council web site at





Federal CIO Council.. 1

Mentoring Guide. 1

Acknowledgements.. 1

Acknowledgements.. 2

This document may also be found on the CIO Council web site at.. 2

I.  Purpose and Introduction.. 1

II.  What Is Mentoring?. 1

Definition.. 1

Planned Mentoring (CIO Council Mentoring Program) 2

Evaluate the program -- The program is evaluated to determine the results, such as advantages, cost effectiveness, and difficulties. 3

III. A Six-Step Mentoring Process.. 3

1.     Evaluate Characteristics. 3

2.     Identify Protégé. 4

3.     Develop Mentoring Guidelines. 5

4.     Perform Roles. 5

5.     Evaluate Relationship. 5

6.     End Relationship. 5

IV. The Four Stages of Mentoring.. 6

1.     The Prescriptive Stage. 6

2.     The Persuasive Stage. 6

3.     The Collaborative Stage. 6

4.     The Confirmative Stage. 6

V. Characteristics, Roles, and Responsibilities of a Good Mentor.. 7

1.     Teacher.. 8

2.     Guide. 8

3.     Counselor.. 9

4.     Motivator.. 9

5.     Sponsor.. 10

6.     Coach.. 10

7.     Advisor.. 11

8.     Referral Agent.. 11

9.     Role Model. 12

10.  Door Opener.. 12

VI. Five Essentials of a Mentoring Relationship.. 13

1.     Respect.. 13

2.     Trust.. 13

Trust is another essential of a successful mentoring relationship.  Trust is a two-way street--both mentors and protégés need to work together to build trust. There are four factors to building trust. 13

Communication.. 13

Availability.. 14

Predictability.. 14

Loyalty.. 14

3.     Partnership Building.. 14

4.     Self-esteem... 15

5.     Time. 15

VII. Information Technology Specific Skills.. 16

Technical and IT Skills Mentoring.. 16

Personal Attributes: 17

Technical or Business Skills and Competencies: 17

Activities: 18

The protégé should: 18

IX. Goal Setting.. 19


X. Characteristics, Roles, Responsibilities of a Good Protégé. 21

XI. Tips to Good Mentoring.. 22

XII. Conclusion.. 23

I.  Purpose and Introduction

This document is provided as a useful guide on successful mentoring.  It is packed with information for new mentors, provides a review of information for those who have mentored, and provides insight to the protégé.  The Federal CIO Council Mentoring Guide, the CIO Council Mentoring Program Framework, and attached Appendices provide step-by-step guidelines and forms to use throughout the CIO mentoring process.  Topics include what it means to be a mentor, the roles and responsibilities during your tutelage, the general skills required for IT-related positions, and the different styles that you can adopt to meet the unique demands of a mentoring relationship.


In order to provide a complete perspective, we have included comprehensive information on mentoring, with tips and suggestions to supplement this information.  While this guide has been adapted to the Federal CIO Mentoring Program, the information is generic in nature.  The Procurement Executives Council (PEC) uses similar guidance for their mentoring program.  Agencies and other councils are encouraged to use this information as a starting point to establish their own mentoring programs.  Your Human Resources office can help you to ensure that this guide meets the specific needs of your own organization.


II.  What Is Mentoring?



The mentoring process links an experienced person (mentor) with a less experienced person (protégé) to help foster the career development and professional growth of the protégé. The mentoring process requires that the mentor and protégé work together to establish and reach specific goals and to provide each other with sufficient feedback to ensure that the goals are reached.


A mentor facilitates personal and professional growth in an individual by sharing the knowledge and insights that have been learned through the years. The desire to share these life experiences is characteristic of a successful mentor.  A mentor is a more senior-level employee who supports the needs and aspirations of a protégé by providing guidance and feedback on a protégé's professional development.  He or she influences the protégé's professional growth by providing on-the-job guidance (if applicable), promoting participation in training, and assisting in career decisions.



Many people imagine a protégé to be new to the working world; however, there are two types of protégés:


q       The novice employee who needs to be taught everything about surviving in the workplace.


q       The seasoned, politically sophisticated person who transfers to, or is hired into, a new office.  This type of protégé already knows the survival skills, such as time management, planning, delegating, and how to interact with others and typically only needs to be instructed on the inner working and policies of the larger organization and/or the specific office.

Planned Mentoring (CIO Council Mentoring Program)

Planned mentoring, also known as formal mentoring, primarily focuses on the goals of the organization. This usually results in benefits to both the organization and the protégé.  Organizational goals can include:


q       Increase productivity

q       Eliminate turnover

q       Reduce absenteeism.


This type of mentoring promotes a formal, business approach to the relationship so there is little or no social interaction. The mentor and protégé rarely see each other outside the office. The mentor and protégé are not concerned with developing a friendship as much as they are interested in meeting the organization's needs. After all, the basis for the relationship is organizational commitment.


Planned mentoring usually lasts from six to twelve months.  The mentoring for the Federal CIO Mentoring Program will be for one year.  The relationship ends when the organizational goals are reached.  Each protégé is provided an opportunity to receive a well-rounded working background in the areas needed by Federal employees in today’s every-changing work environment. 


The CIO Council Mentoring Program will provide diverse work assignments in information technology (IT) from one of the CIO Council Committees; an assignment from the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Council (finance); and an assignment from the PEC (procurement).  In lieu of an assignment from the CFO or the PEC, an assignment may be provided from another CIO Council committee in the area of finance or procurement, after the initial CIO Council committee assignment is completed.


Planned mentoring takes a systematic approach that consists of five steps:


q       Match participants -- The protégés are matched by the organization to suitable mentors. These matches are based on similar attitudes and work assignments.


q       Write a formal contract -- The mentor and protégé develop a formal contract that outlines expectations and obligations. Both participants sign the contract to bind the relationship.


q       Train participants -- The organization trains the participants to understand their roles as mentor and protégé.


q       Monitor the relationship -- The mentor and protégé monitor the mentoring program to ensure compliance with the formal contract.


Evaluate the program -- The program is evaluated to determine the results, such as advantages, cost effectiveness, and difficulties.

III. A Six-Step Mentoring Process

1.      Evaluate Characteristics

There are several steps to the mentoring process.  The first step is to evaluate the characteristics of a mentor.  If you aspire to be a mentor, you can use the checklist below to evaluate yourself.  This checklist can give you an idea of whether or not you have the characteristics to be an effective mentor.


Check the characteristics that apply to you:


q       Knowledge of organization core values


q       Good Listener


q       People Oriented

q       Good Motivator

q       Effective Teacher

q       Secure in Position

q       An Achiever

q       Able to Give Protégé Visibility

q       Values Organization and Work

q       Respects Others


Remember that these characteristics are found in successful mentors but they are not all required.  You may have identified some characteristics you need to cultivate or improve.

2.      Identify Protégé

The second step is to identify a protégé. You may already have a quasi-mentoring relationship with a junior colleague but have not considered the relationship as one of "mentor" and " protégé." Or you may want to be a mentor, but don't know how to identify a protégé.  If you don't have a protégé identified, consider these questions:


q       Who could be developed for a Leadership role?


q       Who do I believe has potential to be an outstanding employee and would benefit from my expertise?


q       With whom would I feel comfortable building this kind of relationship?


q       Who needs my help?


It is usually recommended that your protégé not be someone you supervise.  In practice, however, mentoring relationships often result from supervisor-subordinate relationships.  In this situation remember to keep the mentoring relationship separate from the supervisor-subordinate relationship.  You must build a trusting relationship and this involves being able to talk freely to each other.


If you are your protégé's supervisor, you need to avoid passing judgment and remember to separate the roles of supervisor and mentor.  When you are identifying a protégé, remember that the person doesn't need to be exactly like you. Successful mentoring relationships often occur between people of different genders, ethnic backgrounds, and physical capabilities.  Think of the employees you know. You want to find a person who possesses at least some of the traits on the following checklist:


Check the Characteristics that apply to your protégé candidate:

q       Eagerness to learn

q       Able to Work as Team Player

q       Patient

q       Risk Taker

q       Positive Attitude

3.   Develop Mentoring Guidelines

Once you have identified your protégé, the third step is to develop specific mentoring guidelines.  Talk to your protégé about expectations that help build the foundation of the mentoring experience.  Communicate your expectations to your protégé.  Ask your protégé about his or her expectations.  Find out what he or she expects to learn from this relationship and how the relationship should develop.  Begin by asking your protégé:


q       What do you want to gain from this mentoring relationship?


q       How should we work together to make the most of this mentoring experience?


q       What do you expect from your position/job?


q       What are your career goals?


During this step of the mentoring process, you should develop a regular schedule with your protégé to ensure enough time will be devoted to the mentoring relationship.

4.   Perform Roles

The fourth step is to perform the appropriate roles.  Talk to your protégé about the different roles of a mentor and protégé.  Your protégé may not be aware of the roles he or she is expected to perform.  During this step of the mentoring process, you and your protégé begin to assume your roles.

5.   Evaluate Relationship

The fifth step is to informally evaluate your mentoring relationship.  Meet with your protégé, from time to time, to find out if expectations are being met and if both you and your protégé are satisfied.  When you evaluate your mentoring relationship, you may find that there are issues or obstacles you need to discuss. The mentor, as the senior and more experienced partner, should take the initiative for monitoring the health of the mentoring relationship.  Your protégé is responsible for acknowledging and discussing problems as they arise.

6.   End Relationship

Finally, the sixth step of the mentoring process involves ending the mentoring relationship.  Plan a final meeting or celebration. It is healthy for a mentoring relationship to end.  Both the mentor and the protégé should think carefully about whether their expectations were realistic and if their behaviors were appropriate. This reflection is beneficial if the mentor or protégé begins a new mentoring relationship with another individual.


IV. The Four Stages of Mentoring

Mentoring, as a dynamic and ever-changing process, consists of different stages that provide a protégé with the opportunity to learn and grow.  A mentor needs to be aware that each stage requires that different roles be assumed.  The four stages of mentoring are prescriptive, persuasive, collaborative, and confirmative.

1.   The Prescriptive Stage

In the first stage of mentoring, the protégé usually has little or no experience at the organization or in the workplace. This stage is most comfortable for the novice protégé, who depends heavily on you for support and direction. This is where you are prescribing, ordering, and advising your protégé.


During this stage you give a lot of praise and attention to build your protégé's self-confidence.  You will devote more time to your protégé in this stage than in any of the other stages.  You will provide detailed guidance and advice to your protégé on many, if not all, workplace issues and procedures.  At this stage, think of the protégé as a "sponge"--soaking up every new piece of information you provide.  You will share many of your experiences, trials, and anecdotes during this stage.

2.   The Persuasive Stage

This second stage requires you to take a strong approach with your protégé.  In this stage, you actively persuade your protégé to find answers and seek challenges.  The protégé usually has some experience, but needs firm direction to be successful.  During this stage, you protégé may need to be prodded into taking risks.  Suggest new strategies, coach, question, and push your protégé into discoveries.

3.   The Collaborative Stage

In the Collaborative Stage, the protégé has enough experience and ability that he or she can work together with the mentor to jointly solve problems and participate in more equal communication.  In this stage, the protégé actively cooperates with the mentor in his or her professional development. In this stage, you may allow your protégé, at times, to take control by having him/her a chance to work independently.  For instance, a protégé can be given a piece of an important project to do on his or her own, with little or no guidance from the mentor.

4.   The Confirmative Stage

This stage is suitable for protégés with a lot of experience who have mastered the job requirements, but require your insight into the organization's policies and people.  In this stage, you act more as a sounding board or empathetic listener. One mentor asserts, "my protégé” presents career questions to me.  I give her my advice and encouragement in a non-judgmental manner about her career decisions."   While everyone can benefit from a mentor at any point in his or her career, the ultimate goal of the mentoring stages is to produce a well-rounded, competent employee who outgrows the tutelage of a mentor.  Your relationship should evolve to the point where you protégé is self-motivated, confident, and polished.  Ideally, you want your protégé to move on to become a mentor to another colleague.


Each mentoring stage is characterized by the degree of dependence your protégé has on you as a mentor.  The degree of protégé dependency is greatest at the Prescriptive Stage, with dependency decreasing with each subsequent stage.  This means that a protégé who is successfully capable of working independently most of the time would be comfortable in the Confirmative Stage. As the protégé grows professionally, the amount of dependence decreases, until the protégé is shaped into an independent and competent employee. 


Mentoring relationships may follow all four stages, or only several of these stages.  In fact, there is such a fine line between each stage that frequently it is difficult to tell when one stage ends and another begins.  Your protégé should give you verbal and non-verbal signs to indicate when he or she is ready to move to the next mentoring stage.  You need to continually evaluate your mentoring relationship as it evolves.  Determine when it is time to alter your mentoring style. Keep in mind that your relationship will stagnate if your mentoring style remains in a stage your protégé has outgrown.


V. Characteristics, Roles, and Responsibilities of a Good Mentor


Similar to marks around a compass, the roles you assume as a mentor point you in many different directions.  There are ten different roles a mentor can assume:
















Which role you assume depends on the needs of your protégé and on the relationship you build with your protégé.  On any given day, your protégé may require you to perform one of these roles, or all of them.  You change direction to fulfill your role as coach, steering slightly toward the role of advisor as your protégé asks for advice on a satisfactory course of action.  Over time, and with experience, you will learn how to assume different roles more easily.  Each of the roles is explained in the next section to help you prepare for the different directions that you will take.

1.   Teacher

As a teacher, you may need to teach the protégé the skills and knowledge required to perform the job successfully.  This role requires you to outline the nuts and bolts of the position and to share your experiences as a seasoned professional.  To teach the fundamentals of the position, you first need to determine what knowledge and skills are necessary to successfully meet the requirements of the position. 


Once you have identified the knowledge and skills that the position requires, you need to identify what knowledge and skills the protégé already has and what knowledge and skills require development.  Then concentrate your efforts on helping your protégé develop his or her knowledge and skills.


It is in your best interest to ensure that your protégé develops professionally.  There are many different ways you can help your protégé develop.  You should make a point of explaining, in detail, what you expect from your protégé.  If you are helping your protégé develop critical job tasks, provide examples or samples, when possible, for the protégé to follow.


The most important developmental method you can use is to answer the questions your protégé poses.  Keep in mind that you are not required to be the expert on everything.  A good mentor knows when to direct the protégé to a knowledgeable source.  Knowledgeable sources can be people or materials (e.g., handbook, diagram, chart, and computer).


As a teacher, it is important that you share the wisdom of past mistakes.  A protégé cannot only learn from your errors, but also can realize that no one is perfect.  Make a point to relate these learning experiences, special anecdotes, and trials whenever appropriate.  It is this sharing of information that strengthens the mentor- protégé relationship.

2.   Guide

As a guide, you help navigate through the inner workings of the organization and decipher the unwritten office rules for your protégé.  This information is usually the basis of knowledge that one only acquires over a period of time.  The inner workings of the organization are simply the dynamics, or office politics, that are not always apparent, but are crucial to know.  The unwritten rules can include the special procedures your office follows, the guidelines that are not always documented, and policies under consideration.


As a mentor, it is important that you explain the inner workings and unwritten rules to your protégé.  Brief your protégé on who does what, the critical responsibilities that each performs, and the office personalities involved.


3.   Counselor

The role of counselor requires you to establish a trusting and open relationship. In order to create a trusting relationship, you need to stress confidentiality and show respect for the protégé.  You can promote confidentiality by not disclosing personal information that the protégé shares with you.  Show respect by listening carefully and attentively to the protégé and by not interrupting while your protégé is talking.  To establish a trusting and open relationship, you need to make the protégé feel comfortable.


The counselor role also encourages a protégé to develop problem-solving skills. A protégé must be able to think through a problem rather than always depending on you to provide a solution.  You can develop the protégé's problem-solving skills by advising the protégé to attempt to solve a problem before seeking assistance.

4.   Motivator

As a motivator, you may at times need to generate motivation in your protégé.  Motivation is an inner drive that compels a person to succeed.  It is not often that you will find an unmotivated protégé.  In general, most protégés are enthusiastic about their jobs.  After all, protégés tend to be characterized as highly motivated individuals with a thirst for success.  You usually perform the role of motivator only when you need to motivate your protégé to complete a difficult assignment or to pursue an ambitious goal.


Through encouragement, support, and incentives, you can motivate your protégé to succeed.  One of the most effective ways to encourage your protégé is to provide frequent positive feedback during an assigned task or while the protégé strives toward a goal. Positive feedback is a great morale booster that removes doubt, builds self-esteem and results in your protégé feeling a sense of accomplishment.  Concentrate on what the protégé is doing well and tell your protégé about these successes.


You can also motivate your protégé by showing your support. Show your support by making yourself available to your protégé, especially during stressful periods.  An open door policy is perhaps the best way to show your support. Keep in mind that an open door policy means that your door is always open to your protégé and not just open when it is convenient for you. You need to be consistent about your availability. A protégé who knows you are always available will not be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance. Motivate your protégé by creating incentives. To create an incentive, you need to explain what the protégé can gain from completing a task or fine tuning a skill.  If you are your protégé's supervisor, then offer an opportunity to work on an interesting project.

5.   Sponsor

A sponsor creates opportunities for the protégé -- opportunities that may not otherwise be made available.  These opportunities can relate directly to the job or indirectly to the protégé's overall professional development.  The goal of a mentor is to provide as much exposure for the protégé as possible, with a minimum of risks.  Opportunities should challenge and instruct without eroding the protégé's self-esteem.  A protégé should not be set up for failure. New opportunities can increase the visibility of your protégé, but you must be careful in selecting these opportunities.


Only you know when your protégé is ready to take on new opportunities. It will be apparent to you when your protégé has mastered all required tasks and seeks new responsibilities.

6.   Coach

At times you may need to perform the role of coach to help a protégé overcome performance difficulties. Coaching is a complex and extensive process. Before you begin, you need to answer three questions:


q       Does the protégé have the capacity to do the job?


q       Is coaching likely to upgrade the protégé's skills?


q       Is there sufficient time to coach?


Coaching is not an easy skill to perform. Specifically, coaching involves feedback.  Mentors need to give different kinds of feedback, as the situation demands.  Behavior that you want to reinforce requires positive feedback. Behavior you wish to change requires constructive feedback.


Both types of feedback are critical to your protégé's professional growth.  If you know how to provide feedback to your protégé, you can perform the role of coach more easily.  There are four factors to consider when providing feedback:


q       You need to give frequent feedback. By getting feedback often, your protégé will have a clear understanding of his or her progress.


q       You need to give quality feedback. If you offer quality feedback, your protégé will appreciate the feedback more.


q       You need to give specific feedback. You should focus the feedback on how, when, and why. 


q       You need to give direct feedback on what you have observed. You shouldn't discuss matters you have heard secondhand.


Factors to consider when giving constructive feedback are:


q       Describe the behavior you observed


q       Don't use labels such as "immature" or "unprofessional"


q       Don't exaggerate


q       Don't be judgmental


q       Phrase the issue as a statement, not a question.


When giving feedback to your protégé, concentrate on the behavior that you would like your protégé to do more of, do less of, or continue. It is important that you do not give feedback when: You don't know much about the circumstances of the behavior.  The time, place, or circumstances are inappropriate (for example, in the presence of others).

7.   Advisor

This role requires you to help the protégé develop professional interests and set realistic career goals. As the old saying goes, "If you don't know where you are going, you won't know how to get there." This saying holds true for protégé's professional development. In the role of advisor, you need to think about where the protégé wants to go professionally. That is, you need to help the protégé set career goals. Please see Section 8 on goal setting.

8.   Referral Agent

Once career goals are set, you are likely to assume the role of referral agent.  As a referral agent, work with your protégé to develop an action plan that outlines what knowledge, skills, and abilities a protégé needs to meet his or her career goals. There are several steps that you and your protégé should follow when developing a career action plan.


Target the areas that require development. To target developmental areas, know the requirements of the future positions.   Perhaps talk to people who hold the position, or visit your personnel office to obtain written information about the position.


You should identify the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required of the future position. Weigh these against the knowledge, skills, and abilities that your protégé already possesses. Are there any that required developments? What knowledge needs to be acquired and skills honed to meet the demands of the future position?  Select developmental activities. Choose or recommend activities (tasks) that your protégé can undertake to develop the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities required of the future position.

Examples of developmental activities for your protégé include:


q       Assigning job enrichment responsibilities


q       Participating in a temporary assignment


q       Attending workshops, conferences, or seminars


q       Enrolling in college and university courses


q       Participating in cross training or job rotation.


Determine success indicators. Your protégé needs a clear vision of the desired results of the developmental activity.  Your protégé needs to be able to answer the question "How will I know I've succeeded?"  It's not important what indicators you use, except that these indicators must be measurable and meaningful to the protégé.  For example, if the developmental area is writing skills, success indicators might include writing clear/concise proposals, proper use of the principles of speech, and good sentence structure.  Once you and your protégé has an action plan in place, you can use the action plan as an enabler to move your protégé toward the career goals that you help to set in the role of advisor.

9.   Role Model


As a role model, you are a living example of the values, ethics, and professional practices of your organization.  Most protégés, in time, imitate their mentors; as the saying goes, "Imitation is the sincerest flattery."


Learning by example may be your most effective teaching tool.  Your protégé will learn a lot about you while he or she observes how you handle situations or interact with others.  For this reason, you should be careful how you come across to your protégé.  You must strive for high standards of professionalism, solid work ethics, and a positive attitude.  You should give your protégé an opportunity to learn the positive qualities of an experienced professional.

10.  Door Opener


In the role of door opener, you will help the protégé establish a network of contacts.  A protégé needs a chance to meet other people to spur professional, as well as, social development.  As a door opener, you can introduce your protégé to many of your own contacts to help build the protégé's own network structure.  Stress to your protégé that networking is directly related to the number of people at your organization from whom you can seek assistance or advice.  To increase your protégé's awareness of personal contacts, ask your protégé to consider the number of people he or she knows within the organization.

Your protégé may want to consider:


q       With whom do I talk frequently?


q       With whom do I take lunch breaks?


q       With whom do I discuss my problems or concerns?


As a door opener, you also open doors of information for your protégé by steering the protégé to resources that he or she may require.


VI. Five Essentials of a Mentoring Relationship


As you begin your mentoring journey, there are several essentials that you should know to make your journey a success.  These essential factors are respect, trust, partnership building, self-esteem, and time.

1.   Respect


The first essential of a successful mentoring relationship is respect.  Respect is established when the protégé recognizes knowledge, skills, and abilities in the mentor that he or she would like to possess.  The protégé then attempts to acquire these much-admired characteristics. Respect usually increases over time.

2.   Trust

Trust is another essential of a successful mentoring relationship.  Trust is a two-way street--both mentors and protégés need to work together to build trust. There are four factors to building trust.


Communication + Availability + Predictability + Loyalty





You need to talk and actively listen to your protégé.  It is important to value your protégé's opinions and let your protégé know that he or she is being taken seriously.  Your protégé can help to build trust in the relationship by honestly relaying his or her goals and concerns and by listening to your opinions.


You should be willing to meet with your protégé whenever he or she needs you. Remember the open door policy--that is, you should keep the door open as often as possible.  Your protégé should also make time for this relationship.


Your protégé needs you to be dependable and reliable. You should make a point to give consistent feedback, direction, and advice.  You should also be able to predict the needs of your protégé.  Conversely, your protégé needs to be consistent in his or her actions and behavior.  Although your protégé will grow and change during the mentoring relationship, drastic changes in behavior or attitude could signal a problem.  Look for these indicators of potential trouble in your mentoring relationship:


q       Frequent switches in direction


q       Frequent arguments


q       Frustration at lack of progress


q       Excessive questioning of each decision or action taken


q       Floundering


Never compromise your relationship by discussing your protégé's problems or concerns with others.  In addition, instruct your protégé not to discuss your relationship with others.  Keep the information discussed between the two of you in strict confidence.   Avoid criticizing or complaining about your organization. Disloyalty to the organization may cause confusion on the part of your protégé.

3.   Partnership Building

The third essential is partnership-building activities.  When you enter a mentoring relationship, you and your protégé become professional partners.  There are natural barriers that all partnerships face.  Natural barriers may include miscommunication or an uncertainty of each other's expectations.  Five improvement activities can help you overcome these barriers:


q       Maintain communication

q       Fix obvious problems

q       Forecast how decisions could affect goals

q       Discuss progress

q       Monitor changes.


You and your protégé can use the following activities to help build a successful partnership.


Show enthusiasm.  Create a positive atmosphere by showing enthusiasm and excitement for your protégé's efforts.


Create an atmosphere for emotional acceptance.  Since a person can resist being changed, transformation is a campaign for the heart as well as the mind. Help your protégé feel accepted as he or she experiences professional growth.


Approach change slowly.  Listen to your protégé and be responsive to his or her concerns.  When drastic changes occur, a person needs time to accept and experiment with these changes.


Partnership-building activities are not only useful when building a mentoring partnership, but also are helpful to your protégé when interacting with others.

4.   Self-esteem

The fourth essential to a successful mentoring relationship is to build your protégé's self-esteem.  All people have the desire to believe that they are worthwhile and valuable.  There are several steps you can take to build your protégé's self-esteem.  Encourage your protégé to have realistic expectations of him or her, the mentoring relationship, and the position.  Dissatisfaction can result if the protégé expects too much of him/herself, the mentoring relationship, or the position.  Discuss realistic expectations together.  Encourage your protégé to have a realistic self-perception.  You can help define your protégé's self-perception by identifying your protégé's social traits, intellectual capacity, beliefs, talents, and roles.

5.   Time

The fifth essential is time.  During the mentoring relationship, make time to interact with your protégé.  Specifically set aside time for your protégé. Try not to let routine tasks exclude your protégé.  Here are some ways to make time:


q       Set meeting times with your protégé and don't change these times unless absolutely necessary.


q       Meet periodically, at mutually convenient times and at times when you know you won't be interrupted.


q       In addition to making time in your schedule, realize that you need to give your protégé adequate time to grow professionally.


VII. Information Technology Specific Skills


The CIO Council, Federal IT Workforce Committee, is responsible for developing strategies to upgrade the IT skills of the current workforce.  A key element in obtaining and retaining people is ensuring their professional development through training and organizational support.  While many agencies have mentoring programs in place, this supplement focuses the mentor-protégé relationship on developing the technical and business skills necessary for the new IT workforce. 


This section is applicable to employees whose agencies consider them part of the IT workforce.   The CIO Council's focus is in the development of the ability to integrate IT competencies (e.g., telecommunications, architecture, systems integration, programming languages, and database administration).  Other  objectives are the building of knowledge and expertise in the following Clinger-Cohen Core Competencies:


1.  Policy and Organizational

2.  Leadership/Managerial

3.  Process/Change Management

4.  Information Resources Strategy and Planning

5. Performance Assessment: Models and Methods

6. Project/Program Management

7. Capital Planning and Investment Assessment

8. Acquisition

9. E-Government/Electronic Business/Electronic Commerce

         10. IT security/information

         11. Technical

         12. Desk Top Technology Tools


q       CIO Vision for the IT Workforce -- To be the Government's IT leaders.


q       CIO Mission of the IT Workforce -- As the Government's IT leaders, we, provide strategic business advice to agency leaders for spending and managing billions of taxpayers' dollars annually.


q       Apply the most effective IT practices from the public and private sectors.

Technical and IT Skills Mentoring

The training and education requirements established by Clinger-Cohen have altered the types of skills needed to perform effectively in the IT workforce.  As the focus changes from strictly technical and management based skills to a broader IT skill set, the new and legacy workforce must expand their skills to meet the changing scope of their work.


The following list suggests personal attributes, skills, and activities that mentors and protégés should discuss to ensure that employees are progressing toward their career goals, meeting the new training and educational requirements, and broadening their skills to encompass the new business emphasis.


The mentor should ensure that the protégé is acquiring training, education, and/or work experience to gain the attributes and IT skills listed below.  The suggested activities can facilitate the learning process and will help the protégé make career connections to further their professional development.


Personal Attributes and Skills: These will be based on the skill sets determination of the CIO Council Committee Co-chair(s) based on review of each candidate's resume, interview, and assignment request.


Personal Attributes:


q       Strong mission orientation

q       Management

q       Risk Management

q       Ethics

q       Integrity

q       Leadership

q       Emotional Intelligence

q       Dedication

q       Flexibility and adaptability


Technical or Business Skills and Competencies:

q       Information based competencies and computer literacy

q       Communication skills

q       Analytical skills

q       Decision-making skills

q       Team orientation

q       Partnering techniques

q       Technical understanding and commodity orientation

q       Performance and results orientation

q       Process orientation

q       Customer focus

q       Supply chain management

q       Negotiation skill

q       Human relations skills

q       Marketing skills

q       Interpersonal skills

q       Knowledge of the Federal IT Regulation

q       Performance Measurement


q       Internal internships

q       Industry rotations

q       Shadowing


VIII.  Hints for Successful Assignments


The host organization should:

·        Provide meaningful assignments for appropriate duration that will apply and/or expand a participant’s IT, acquisition, business, and/or managerial competencies. 

·        Consider available space.  Ensure that a workstation and appropriate office accommodations (desk, phone, and supplies) are available upon protégé’s arrival.

·        Provide a packet of agency information including an organizational chart, phone book, security information, pertinent facility information, mission statement, and strategic plan (if applicable).

·        Coordinate any security requirements prior to beginning of assignment.

·        Coordinate any IT logon/password requirements prior to beginning of assignment.

·        Offer a shadowing opportunity to allow protégé to follow a high-level agency official for a day or so.

·        Assign a mentor who will be responsible for the daily operational aspects of the assignment. 

The mentor should:        

·        Arrange special assignments and/or opportunities for the protégé

·        Develop a work plan with realistic milestones to be used by the protégé to manage the projects assigned;

·        Provide direction and guidance and assist in identifying appropriate resources and contacts internally and externally;

·        Provide progress reports to appropriate managers.

The protégé should:


·        Discuss with the home supervisor what the return assignment will be, especially if the detail is for an extended period of time.


·        Communicate periodically with the home supervisor.


IX. Goal Setting


A mentor will be most effective if he or she understands the professional goals of the protégé. Goals should be specific.  A protégé needs to clearly explain his or her goals.  Goals must be time-framed.  You both need to plan an overall time frame for goals with interim deadlines to ensure that your protégé is moving toward these goals.  It is important not to make goals too future oriented.  Most mentors recommend that you keep goal time frames within a three-year range.


Goals must be results-oriented. You need to concentrate on the results of your efforts, not so much on the activities that are required to accomplish them.  An activity provides a way of reaching the goal, but the end result (the goal) should

not be neglected.  Goals must be relevant.  The goals must be appropriate, yet move the protégé closer to the type of IT work that he or she finds challenging and enjoyable.


Goals must be reachable.  The goals must be within the protégé's reach. The protégé needs to feel challenged, but not incapable of reaching the goals.  You must consider the special talents of your protégé and weigh these talents with the requirements of the goal for which your protégé strives.  You need to create the right career fit for your protégé.


You may want to create several career goals to eliminate the possibility of your protégé feeling trapped.  However, goals should be limited in number.  You need to avoid setting too many goals at once.  Concentrate first on setting goals that will help your protégé accomplish what needs to be done.


Keep in mind that set goals must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the workplace and changes in your protégé's interests.  Goals shouldn't be so rigid that adjustments can't be made.  Sometimes changes in the organization will require alterations in your protégé's goals.


Think of how your protégé will reach his or her career goals.  There are several career-building alternatives you can offer your protégé.


q       Enrichment - enhancing skills and responsibilities of the current job.  Reassignment - moving to another position with the same or new duties, without a change in pay.


q       Detail - a temporary assignment with the employee returning to his or her regular duties at the end of the detail.


Once you have determined your protégé's interests, knowledge, skills, and abilities, help your protégé develop or isolate developmental goals. Developmental goals are desires to enhance one's career, social interaction, and personal endeavors.


Developmental goals are difficult to identify because they are more abstract than tasks.  To identify developmental goals, start with a long-term goal-setting plan (no more than three years) and work backward.  You need to work backward because it's easier to identify short-term goals once you know what the long-term goals are.  Ask your protégé:


q       Where would you like to be in three years (long-term goals)?


q       What series of one-year goals (short-term goals) could lead you to these objectives?


q       What are the education and training requirements of your position or your targeting position?


You can set a formalized career structure for your protégé by writing the long-term and short-term goals on a planning worksheet.  (A sample goal setting worksheet follows this section.)  Keep in mind that your protégé's career goals must be realistic and flexible.  You also should ensure that the protégé's career goals coincide with your organization's philosophy and culture.  Once you have identified the developmental goals, organize these goals in one of the following categories:


q       Career goals

q       Target Areas

q       Social goals

q       Personal Goals


Career goals are desires to advance one's profession.  To attain career goals, one must use his or her knowledge, skills, and abilities.  To accomplish some career goals, employees must complete certain training and education requirements.  Social goals are aspirations to meet other professionals to build a network of contacts.  For instance, one protégé joined a professional organization to meet people in his field.


Personal goals are strong desires to improve oneself.  One protégé wanted to concentrate on improving her organizational skills so that she could perform her job more effectively.  She decided to attend a time management course to reach her goal.


Lastly, once your protégé's career goals are established, you need to meet at least every six months to evaluate them.  You and your protégé may want to adjust developmental goals as your protégé's interests change, or changes occur in your organization.












Training and Education Goals










Second Year


















X. Characteristics, Roles, Responsibilities of a Good Protégé


Mentoring creates a partnership between two individuals--the mentor and the protégé. In the previous section you learned the roles of the mentor, but a mentor is not the only one that must wear many hats.  A protégé must also perform several roles as explained below.


A protégé provides a gauge to measure how interactive a mentoring partnership will be.  This means that a protégé determines the capacity of the mentoring relationship.  Your protégé decides upon the amount of dependence and guidance he or she needs.  A protégé should take the initiative to ask for help or advice and to tackle more challenging work.


A protégé is also a student who needs to absorb the mentor's knowledge and have the ambition to know what to do with this knowledge.  As a student, the protégé needs to practice and demonstrate what has been learned.  A protégé should be able to interpret the regulations, not just recite regulations.


Finally, a protégé is a trainee who should blend agency mentoring with other training approaches.  The protégé must participate in training programs, in addition to seeking your professional advice.  By participating in other programs, the protégé becomes a better rounded and versatile employee.


XI. Tips to Good Mentoring


Watch for signs of lopsided mentoring.  This occurs when one party is devoting more time and energy to the mentoring process than the other is.  In most cases, efforts should be equal.  Make sure you both are committing time and energy to the process.


Give examples of how you or other people handled similar situations and what consequences resulted.  Influence actions by asking questions challenging your protégé.  Alternate leadership roles to give your protégé more experience with working independently.


Assign your protégé independent work projects.  Always provide honest feedback.  Your protégé deserves the truth, and honest feedback helps your protégé keep a realistic self-perception.


Self-esteem building is an important part of your job as a mentor.  The most effective way to build your protégé's self-esteem is to listen and give positive feedback.  One way to set goals is through an Individual Development Plan (IDP).  The IDP is a written plan designed to meet particular developmental goals.  Review the position description and performance standards of the job to help you identify the knowledge and skills required for the position.  If you are your protégé's supervisor, you may assign specific tasks, set deadlines, and frequently review your protégé's work to discover what knowledge and skills need to be developed.


Instruct your protégé to review key policy handbooks.  Begin a question/answer session with the protégé about the rules and regulations contained in the handbook.  This session can lead into a discussion about the inner workings and unwritten rules of the organization.


Ask your protégé questions such as: "How would you solve the problem?" or "What do you think the solution is?" in order to sharpen problem-solving abilities. Remember that incentives extend beyond the tangible.  Offer incentives such as praise, a chance to attend an interesting seminar, or verbal recognition to peers at a staff meeting.  Speak to people in other positions to identify projects for your protégé.


Set up a time to provide feedback to your protégé.  These feedback sessions can be scheduled on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, depending on need.  When possible, take your protégé to various meetings or workgroups so that the protégé can observe you in different settings or situations.


XII. Conclusion


Mentoring can be an effective tool in bridging the knowledge and experience gap between new hires and veterans of the IT workforce.  Successful implementation depends on a commitment to creating a program that fosters the needs of young people entering the workforce for the first time, and the needs of employees changing career paths.  This guidebook is meant to be a tool to help explain the methodology used by the CIO Council's Co-chairs in mentoring their protégés.