CNRA Mentorship Program

Are you an employee under the California Natural Resources Agency and interested in elevating your career? You’ve come to the right spot!

During National Mentoring Month in January 2021, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) is launching a pilot agency-wide mentorship program. The program will focus on elevating staff and promoting leadership opportunities at all levels. The program is intended to improve employee retention, boost morale and increase opportunities across the agency and its departments.

 

This is an opt-in program for mentors and mentees with provided guidance and structure from CNRA. Through the program, mentors and mentees are encouraged to have regular check-ins, engage in goal setting, and shadow opportunities (a full recommended list of activities is included in this document). The program will also convene gatherings with guest speakers and agency leadership. During the pilot year the program will be capped at 25 pairings.

 

Over time, the CNRA Mentorship Program is intended to expand, increasing the network of collaboration opportunities and information flow across CNRA departments. 

 

Program Objectives

  • Create and foster a culture of learning, sharing, and networking across CNRA
  • Improve access to future employment opportunities and assist employees in achieving their career goals.
  • Improve retention of a talented and diverse workforce through Increased employee motivation, interaction, and engagement

Mentor

  1. No current performance issues
  2. Willingness to provide feedback during and at the conclusion of the program
  3. Must be employed by CNRA or one of its departments for at least one year (12 months)
  4. Must review, sign and, submit a Mentoring Program Application (Mentor)
  5. Must complete and sign a Mentor/Mentee Participation Agreement

Mentee

  1. Supervisor approval to participate in the program
  2. Willingness to provide feedback during and at the conclusion of the program
  3. Must be employed by CNRA or one of its departments
  4. Must review, sign, and submit a Mentoring Program Application (Mentee)
  5. Must complete and sign a Mentor/Mentee Participation Agreement

The mentor is a knowledgeable and trusted leader who will assist the mentee by sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources. Mentors may perform many different roles; however, the main role of a mentor is to listen, support, and expand their professional network. The following serves as an outline of mentor roles, responsibilities and benefits.

  1. Be a positive role model. Demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and interpersonal skills. Foster trust, respect, and openness.
  2. Guide and give advice. Guide the mentee toward his/her goals using positive techniques and a thought-provoking and creative process in addition to giving sage advice, when and where appropriate.
  3. Be open to reciprocal learning. Make mentoring a mutually beneficial experience by recognizing that your mentee brings a wealth of unique knowledge and experiences.
  4. Be engaged. Actively listen, question, and offer productive feedback. Identify underlying messages and take the time to fully understand what your mentee is communicating before formulating responses.
  5. Be supportive. Fully support your mentee’s professional development and provide encouragement and guidance.
  6. Be patient. Demonstrate patience throughout your mentee’s self-discovery process as your mentee may or may not require significant assistance with determining his/her direction.
  7. Honor commitments. Honor the time and goal commitments of the mentorship program and those you develop with your mentee. If you or your mentee are unable to maintain your commitments to the mentoring relationship, consider re-evaluating or discontinuing the relationship so the mentee has a chance to be paired with a new mentor.
  8. Maintain confidentiality. Respect the mentoring relationship by keeping private any personal or sensitive topics your mentee shares with you.
  9. Support continuous program improvement. Evaluate the mentorship program and your experience as a mentor honestly. Share ideas for improving the mentorship program with Mentoring@resources.ca.gov.

The mentee is responsible for being proactive in their professional growth and development. The mentee needs to be willing to learn through constructive feedback and following the example of the mentor. The following serves as an outline of mentee roles, responsibilities, and benefits.

  1. Be active. Take full advantage of the mentoring experience by being active and engaged in the experience. Avoid being a passive listener by asking questions and sharing your own experiences and knowledge with your mentor.
  2. Be prepared. Optimize results of your mentoring sessions by preparing for each session beforehand. Understand your goals for each session. Questions to consider:
    1. What have I accomplished since our last session?
    2. What did I not get done, but intended to? What got in the way? What could I have done differently?
    3. What challenges and problems am I facing now?
    4. What opportunities are available to me right now?
    5. What support do I want from my mentor during this meeting?
  3. Establish goals. Assess your current situation and think about short and long-term goals. Your mentor may assist in helping explore and define these goals.
  4. Be open to feedback and coaching. Expect continuous feedback and coaching from your mentor related to your professional growth and goals. The opportunity to receive confidential one-on-one guidance, feedback, and coaching can improve performance and support the achievement of professional goals. Use regular feedback to help transfer newly acquired knowledge and skills to the workplace.
  5. Assess your own boundaries. Remember mentors are not expected to have definitive answers or be available 24/7. Try to imagine yourself in your mentor’s place before making additional requests or changes. Assess your own boundaries and avoid unhealthy dependencies.
  6. Take responsibility for your own development. Monitor your progress, keep your goals in mind, and take something away from every meeting and/or activity.
  7. Honor commitments. Honor the time and goal commitments of the mentorship program and those you develop with your mentor. If you or your mentor are unable to maintain your commitments to the mentoring relationship, consider re-evaluating or discontinuing the relationship and request to be paired with a new mentor.
  8. Maintain confidentiality. Respect the mentoring relationship by keeping private any personal or sensitive topics that may arise in your conversations with your mentor.
  9. Support continuous program improvement. Evaluate the mentorship program and your experience as a mentee honestly. Share ideas for improving the CNRA Mentorship Program with Mentoring@resources.ca.gov.

The Supervisor’s role is to support and consent to participation in the program. The supervisor encourages the mentor and mentee to participate. The supervisor allows time for mentor/ mentee meetings and activities. The following serves to outline the supervisor’s roles, responsibilities, and benefits.

  1. Be supportive of the CNRA Mentorship Program and of the mentor’s/ mentee’s participation in the program.
  2. Respect the confidentiality of the mentoring relationship.
  3. Acknowledge your employee’s participation in the CNRA Mentorship Program by signing the mentor/ mentee application.
  4. Support continuous program improvement. Evaluate the mentorship program and your experience as a supervisor honestly. Share ideas for improving the CNRA Mentorship Program with Mentoring@resources.ca.gov.

Matches will be made between different departments (example: a mentee from the Energy Commission being matched with a mentor from the Department of Conservation). Once a match is made between a mentor and mentee, they will meet and collectively fill out a Mentoring Program Participation Agreement. This is intended to openly discuss expectations with one another regarding the time commitment, goals, and mentorship activities. It is important that mentors and mentees set reasonable expectations for each other.

 

Program parameters that should be discussed as a part of the participation agreement include:

  1. A mentoring agreement between the mentor and mentee will last for 12 months. A mentor and mentee may continue to meet beyond the formal program should they choose to do so following the completion of the program.
  2. The Mentoring commitment is a minimum of 1 hour per month (face-to-face time, meetings, teleconference, etc.).
  3. The number of meetings and type of activities in the mentoring relationship shall be determined mutually by the mentor and mentee. Activities may include but are not required or limited to:
    • Have “mentoring sessions” or meetings every month. These can be as short as 15 minutes or go as long as a couple of hours. This can include lunch, a phone call, virtual meeting, going on a walk, etc. Schedule these official times on your calendars.
    • Goal setting – develop and share your career goals or career bucket list. Map out your future.
    • Attend/watch a lecture or professional event together
    • Read a book or listen to a podcast together that’s relevant to personal/professional growth and development
    • Article sharing
    • Practice giving a presentation
    • Attend informal networking events
    • Review each other’s resume and/or LinkedIn
    • Be a “shadow consultant” on part of a project, which could include listening in on meetings (if appropriate), discussing steps, decisions, strategies, and feelings about the project
    • Introduce each other to colleagues to collectively expand networks
Matching mentors with mentors is not an exact science, and despite our best efforts, mismatches can occur. The mismatch may result from conflicting personalities, differing career goals or areas of expertise, differences in work ethic, or any number of other reasons. While finding a mismatch is regrettable, it is a problem that is relatively simple to correct. If either a mentor or mentee believe that a dissolution or switch is necessary, the mentor/mentee should contact mentoring@resources.ca.gov. Once the request is received a Mentorship Program contact will notify both parties that the relationship has ended and will help the mentee identify another mentor, if a new mentor is requested.