ARL leader discusses new mentorship program

July 19, 2016

By David McNally, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • U.S. Army Research Laboratory acting Director Dr. Philip Perconti announced the lab's intention to unveil an updated and enhanced mentorship program

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 15, 2016) -- Mentorship programs increase retention and increase the likelihood of career development and promotion according to industry studies.

U.S. Army Research Laboratory acting Director Dr. Philip Perconti announced the lab's intention to unveil an updated and enhanced mentorship program. Perconti talked with members of the workforce during a July 13 town hall meeting with the Vehicle Technology Directorate at APG.

"Everybody needs a mentor," Perconti said. "I have a mentor. There's always somebody that I know that I can talk to who will give me unbiased opinions and critiques. I think we all need that."

Perconti said the lab is going to institute some more formal training opportunities for mentoring.

"We are putting a mentoring handbook in place, but it's like everything else, you have to read it for it to have any value," he said. "We also need to go beyond this and have interactive training to teach our workforce how to be effective mentors. Even at mid-career level, everybody needs a mentor."

Sarah Wheat from ARL Civilian Human Resources said a facilitated program is in the works with a goal to make the current program more effective.

"We hope to launch the new program in October," Wheat said. "I will facilitate matching and participation in the one-year program."

Wheat said participation will require a minimum of three hours a month of interaction between mentors and protégées.

Mentors serve as an "objective confidant and advisor with whom the protégé may discuss work-related and other concerns related to career development and planning," according to current program information.

"Mentors suggest appropriate training and development opportunities to further the progress of protégés," Wheat said. "Mentors also help set clear career goals and periodically review progress toward achievement of these goals."

The mentorship program's enhancements are a result of work done by the ARL People First committee.

The four critical areas of the People First initiative are work-life balance, employee recognition, employee development and work environment.

Based on workforce feedback through the People First program, ARL initiated adjustments to the existing mentorship program.

"Our steering committee is comprised of supervisors and nonsupervisors, many who've served as both mentors and protégées," said T'Jae Ellis, ARL People First program manager. "We agreed fairly early on in our formation that refreshing our mentoring program is a priority and I'm optimistic that the CHRO team will consider the elements that worked and didn't work in past programs."

Studies indicate that managerial productivity increases by as much as 88 percent when mentoring is involved, versus a 24-percent increase with training alone. Also, 95 percent of mentoring participants said the experience "motivated them to do their very best."

Wheat said participation in the program will be available to all Department of the Army employees at ARL regardless of career programs.

"Look for more information about the enhanced mentorship program launch coming later this year," Wheat said.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: July 19, 2016