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FCW : February 2013
style, the way that she developed rela- tionships with other people," Davie said. "She took on some tough and sometimes unpopular challenges, and I kind of liked that. It wasn t easy, but the outcomes were great." Years later, those lessons helped Davie tackle the challenge of becom- ing assistant commissioner for Assist- ed Acquisition Services when AAS was being pulled out as its own portfolio. "It was quite a challenging year, but the organization is stronger than ever," she said, noting that AAS went from a $60 million loss position four years ago to being $40 million in the black this year. Working with a mentor Once you ve identi ed a mentor can- didate, you need to explore whether your personalities t well and decide how to structure the relationship. Share your past career experiences, your expectations for mentoring and your learning style. Break down your broad goals into speci c, targeted "It s really important to negotiate the relationship," Zachary said. "As a mentee, you need to drive the rela- tionship and you have to be able to ask for what you need." The mentee should set the agen- da, and both parties should agree on ground rules, such as con dentiality, boundaries and time commitments. Some people meet with a mentor monthly; others meet quarterly. It depends on the situation and your objectives. Arrive at all meetings with a clear agenda, and be respectful of the mentor s time. "I m not saying you can t have some social time if that s something they want," Grunin said. "When you re spending the time talk- ing about you and your career [and] your barriers, you ought to be pre- pared and get to the point." As you make career decisions and advance, be sure to let your mentor know what you have learned. Beyond being good manners, it will make the mentor more willing to continue men- toring you. "Let the person know what you ve been up to and how what they ve said has helped you," Chenok said. "Dem- onstrate that you ve internalized what you discussed." Although you might seek a men- tor for a particular time-limited chal- lenge, stay in touch with that person even after your goal is met. Over the course of your career, you might have a variety of mentors who serve dif- ferent roles. "It s important to have not just one person but hopefully several people you trust enough that you re able to talk to in this fashion," Chenok said. "A single mentor isn t the end-all be- all." ■ Katherine Reynolds Lewis is an award-winning journalist who cov- ers money, careers and technology. A regular contributor to Fortune maga- zine online, she has also written for Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Times, Slate and the Washing- ton Post. gp , g steps. ness required to establish your reputation as a reliable member of the administration's policy-setting team. Political appointees, particularly those in leadership positions, need to remember that they are part of a select team --- the presi- dent's team. Their success will be closely associated with that of the administration in which they serve. Knowing the basics will serve as a foundation on which the political appointee can develop a position of in u- ence in driving, as well as executing, the administration's agenda. ■ Linda M. Springer, former director of the Of ce of Personnel Management, is an executive director in the Government and Public Sector practice of Ernst and Young. This article was originally published as part of the National Academy of Public Admin- istration s Political Appointee Project, an initiative supported by Ernst and Young. There is no doubt that mentors can have a huge impact on a younger employee s career. For instance, if her mentor hadn t called to suggest it, Mary Davie might never have thrown her hat into the ring to become assistant commissioner for Assisted Acquisition Services at the General Services Administration. Being an effective mentor is a skill in and of itself. Rather than solve problems outright, you must coach your mentee to nd his or her own answers. "You re not the sage on the stage, but you re the guide on the side," said Lois Zachary, author of "The Mentor s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships." "The most important thing you can do is to be there and listen, walk in the mentee s shoes and not make assumptions." You also need to ask probing questions and challenge the mentee s bad habits or blind spots. "You want to be supportive [and] a bit nurturing but also tell it like it is," said Susan Grunin, CEO of Think Strategic Consulting and chairwoman of the American Council for Technology s Human Capital Shared Interest Group. As a mentor, you might be surprised to discover that the relationship bene ts you as well as the mentee. Besides the altruistic boost of helping someone else, you are likely to become more energized about your own job and learn new things about your industry and organization. Moreover, you will develop key managerial skills that will help you improve your own organization s performance. "It s not a one-way learning," said Dan Chenok, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government. "Being a mentor has taught me a tremendous amount over the years. The people I ve worked with, who often are younger and have fresher perspectives, have been a great source of ideas." --- Katherine Reynolds Lewis How --- and why---tobea good mentor
March 15, 2013