At FMP, we tend to take professional development pretty seriously. After all, we design, develop, and implement learning programs of all shapes and sizes for our clients. But when it comes to our FMP Mentoring Program, we place a lot of energy and emphasis on ensuring that our program effectively matches mentors and mentees to create impactful development opportunities for both sides of the relationship. We initially designed our mentoring program about 15 years ago, using best practices and incorporating our experience designing and implementing mentoring programs for a wide variety of client organizations. Since then, we’ve continually updated and evolved the program, incorporating surveys and other technologies to facilitate the application and matching process, as well as creating more resources for both mentees and mentors. While we may have made the program administration more efficient, what hasn’t changed is the personal touch of ensuring that our pairings meet the needs of our employees.
Our current mentoring program is led by two employees, Maggie Moore (Senior Human Resources Business Partner) and Bob Turner (Senior Account Manager). Both Maggie and Bob have invested a lot of time in managing our mentoring program, so I reached out to learn more about what motivates and drives their investment in this FMP offering. Here are their thoughts:
“Mentoring has been very critical to my career progression. Earlier in my career, I really struggled with transitioning from an individual contributor into a management role. I had received many accolades throughout my years as an individual contributor, and had a hard time letting go. My new management role required much less billable work, and more focus on business development, staffing, client relationship management and portfolio management – versus managing and working on one or two technical IT projects. My mentor did a wonderful job of guiding me through the challenges of stepping into this new role, and helping me to develop a whole new set of skills needed to be successful going forward.”- Bob Turner
“Before the pandemic, when most of the workforce was in person at FMP or at client sites, we had more opportunities to learn and develop by “seeing” each other in action. As more employees and clients have transitioned to remote or hybrid status, it’s likely we miss some of these opportunities. Mentoring can help fill this gap. Mentors give employees dedicated time and a safe space to discuss strategies for enhancing different competency areas, planning career progression, navigating client challenges, and an opportunity to see the thoughtful and caring FMP culture in action.”- Maggie Moore
Clearly, both Bob and Maggie recognized the criticality of mentoring in their own career development and have channeled that value into creating meaningful experiences for the rest of FMP’s workforce. As we kick-start a new year and the reflection and goal-setting processes that come along with it, I thought it might be helpful to get the perspectives of our employees who are currently involved in our mentoring program, either as mentees or mentors. If you’re thinking about what you can do to move forward in your own career development, maybe these insights can give you the nudge you need to start your own mentoring relationship!
Have you participated in a mentoring relationship and if so, why?
“I am currently participating in a mentoring group led by FMPer Sam Deschenes. I joined because I wanted to strengthen my Excel skills, particularly around data visualization, to support the survey analysis that my client needed from time to time.”- Ashley D.
“To gain and also provide experiences and knowledge in an informal setting.” – Richard E.
What were you looking for in a mentor (e.g., skills, industry, technical knowledge)?
“In a mentor, I was looking to learn how to improve my skills by witnessing theirs firsthand. Often times, a mentor will inform you of the skills you need and give you tips on how to be successful. I have found the key though, is to be able to watch how they execute their skills, because there are so many more pieces that come together.”- Molly V.
“Technical knowledge, professional advice, ideas, and support for growth.”- Richard E.
“I am looking for guidance in navigating my career as a consultant in the federal space, as well as having an individual I can come to for industry advice and technical skills while at FMP.”- Maddy S.
“In a mentor, I am looking for someone who can help me navigate career growth. I have often found it challenging to figure out how to move forward in my career. Mentors have helped me decide which “next steps” I can take and have also given me the confidence to take them. Mentors have helped me achieve my goals and dreams.”- Gillian P.
Why do you think mentoring is important and how has it shaped your career?
“Mentoring is important because it allows individuals a chance to develop leadership skills, develop better problem-solving techniques, and boost their confidence in their day-to-day work.”- Maddy S.
“I think it’s important to have a mentor and also act as one when feasible. Having a mentor, it’s nice to have additional support outside of your supervisor to help you grow and develop. Being a mentor, it’s rewarding to both meet new people and impart lessons learned and share advice.”- Richard E.
“Mentors offer guidance and support and, as a result, engender confidence, which can be challenging to attain in a competitive career landscape. For me, that confidence has been instrumental in helping me reach for more ambitious goals.”- Gillian P.
“Mentors have consistently helped me evaluate my career path and worked with me to brainstorm my next steps and the formal development opportunities (e.g., classes, certifications) that would help me get there. My previous mentors have helped me develop confidence around the skills and value I bring to an organization. They have also championed me with senior leadership, which led to being able to lead large programs relatively early in my career.”- Ashley D.
What value do you think FMP’s mentoring program brings to our employees?
“One of FMP’s greatest strengths is the people that comprise the company. Having access and being able to utilize these resources as part of development as a consultant and a person is invaluable. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to access these resources in a very safe and comfortable space.”- Christian B.
“The mentoring program gives employees the chance to connect with someone outside of the colleagues they typically interact with. It helps employees expand their relationships with other FMPers and for mentees, it provides an opportunity to hear an outside perspective and get advice beyond the people they regularly interact with, which can help them with professional growth.”- Shelby E.
“FMP’s mentoring program connects employees with others who have shared developmental interests to provide new and meaningful developmental opportunities. For mentors, it provides the opportunity to guide an employee’s career, help develop the next generation of leaders, and inspire innovation. For mentees, it builds skills and expertise in a chosen area, provides a forum to receive impartial feedback and guidance, and facilitates the development of a strong professional network.”- Maggie M.
What do you most appreciate about your mentor or mentee?
“I appreciate transparency – transparency in sharing contradictory opinions and stating what needs to be said and no one else will say it to you. I believe a mentor should utilize their lived experience and knowledge to expand your perspective on situations and help shape the way you approach decisions. Some of the best things I’ve learned from mentors are not pieces of knowledge, but rather the intangible ways they approach challenging situations or navigate tough decisions.”- Haley F.
“I appreciate that my mentor makes time for me amidst his extremely busy work schedule and that he takes the time to truly listen to me during our sessions. He provides thoughtful answers based on his experience and knowledge and also lets me drive the topic areas since his philosophy is that mentorship is meant to benefit me as the mentee. He also keeps it very informal and comfortable, which helps me open up during our discussions covering various topics related to career development, growth, and life in general.”- Christian B.
“I have been in Sam’s mentoring group for a few months and what I appreciate most about him is how intentional he is. Our sessions are built upon what the group has communicated would be most helpful for their development and their client work. Furthermore, since we’re all hands-on learners, Sam ensures that each session includes us actively following along with his lesson using our own data sets instead of just observing him on screen.”- Ashley D.
What piece of advice has your mentor shared that you found really meaningful?
“As I was considering pivoting out of higher education, my mentor reminded me that there would likely never be a time that I would feel 100% ready to transition to a new industry. However, when I tried something new in my past, I always landed well and was capable of growing into it. Ultimately, she helped me see that I would not always be perfect or the best when I first started, but I could grow to be.”- Ashley D.
As a mentor, what has your mentee taught you?
“My mentees have taught me so much! Being a mentor has afforded me the opportunity to really actively listen. Through mentorship, I’m able to reflect on my own experiences and the value those experiences bring to me and how they can help others. I appreciate being able to share resources, knowledge, and pointers that have helped me along the way (e.g., articles, models, ways of thinking, new approaches) – everything from project management, agile development, change management, and conflict resolution. Mentees tend to ask really insightful questions that get me to pause, see things from a new perspective, and also think creatively.”- Jess W.
What encouragement would you give to someone thinking about seeking out a mentor for the first time?
“Find someone who can offer you something you want to change or improve in yourself. Mentors are there to challenge your way of thinking and the “group think” that is often encountered in professional settings. Find someone who provides feedback in a way that is realistic and transparent, and in a format you’re willing and able to digest. I most appreciate the mentors in my life who have made me feel psychologically safe, while also pushing me to feel slightly uncomfortable. These are the mentors who drive your personal growth.”- Haley F.
Jessica Milloy is the Chief Operating Officer of FMP Consulting. Jess is from Alexandria, Virginia and enjoys traveling, cooking, and time spent with family and friends.