DLA Troop Support program develops mentors and mentees

By Alexandria Brimage-Gray Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support

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Did you make a professional-related New Year’s resolution to move your career forward in 2020? If so, here’s some news that might interest you.

The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s newest one-on-one mentorship program has reached its midpoint this month, just in time to observe National Mentoring Month.

The program began in May 2019 and provides an opportunity for supervisors in the civilian grades of GS-14 and GS-15 to serve as mentors for GS-12 and GS-13 employees.

Mentorship Program Manager Aaron Mitchell explained that the program provides structure to the mentoring relationships, but based on past climate and culture survey results, it allows flexibility in how the relationships are managed and what the mentors’ and mentees’ goals are.

“The program is more informal in nature as we want the relationships to not be forced, but to flourish naturally,” Mitchell said.

To date, 21 mentors and mentees from various supply chains and directorates across the organization have participated in the pilot program.

The mentee experience

Rachel Ganaway, a contracting supervisor in the Clothing and Textiles supply chain, is John Sheehan’s, acting Deputy Director of the Subsistence supply chain, mentee, and a nine-year Troop Support employee who appreciates the structured mentorship program.

“I had been informally mentored previously with future aspirations to hold positions of more responsibility within the organization, so I figured that I can use some guidance from someone at that level,” she said.

In her previous experience, Ganaway said that meetings were not regularly scheduled, but Sheehan made her a priority and exceeded the once-a-month meeting requirement.

“John and I meet every other week,” she said. “I am very busy, and I assumed that he would be too busy. But he is very committed, makes this program important and he’s very big on ‘building the bench.’”

Ganaway highly recommends the program and said she enjoys providing guidance to her employees. She intends to make mentoring a priority in the future.

“I will never be too busy to provide guidance, whether formal or informal, or participate in programs,” Ganaway said.

The mentoring program has provided Ganaway some unique opportunities.

“Attending meetings with John, I get a first-hand, realistic view of how [different supply chains] do things better, ways to improve what I do and what is expected of leaders at that level,” she said.”

With a big smile, Ganaway shared her biggest takeaways: the importance of understanding the organization as a whole, building the bench of future leaders, work life balance and how to handle personnel issues.

Broadening mentors, building the bench

Ruben Filomeno, Director of Troop Support’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity, having served as a mentor on numerous occasions, believes that every senior leader, supervisor and manager should be involved in developing the workforce.

“It is absolutely essential to the growth of the organization,” he said. “Secondly, it enables me to impart the wisdom, knowledge and skills that I have into those who are willing and want to be mentored.”

Filomeno added three things that he believes are critical to the development of mentees: understanding goals, a holistic view of the organization and teamwork on projects that promote career growth and instill a leadership culture provides mentees visibility and demonstrates their ability to perform at the next level.

To the employee who believes that it is not important or they are too busy to participate in the mentorship program, Filomeno provided some advice.

“Mentoring provides an opportunity to ensure that we are all one team,” he said. “If you fail to mentor, you are losing out on growing yourself and getting to know people. It is really important to make time for people because you can get more accomplished and become a better organization.”