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Home / About Mentoring / Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

+1. Why does HHS have a Mentoring Program?

The HHS Mentoring Program is designed to provide our employees with the opportunity to connect with experienced individuals that will share their knowledge and expertise to support them in planning and realizing their professional goals. The HHS Mentoring Program creates possibilities for mentoring across the OPDIVs and will potentially enhance an individual’s performance and value to the organization. This Program will also support Department-wide succession planning and retention efforts, and help us to retain a competent and high-performing workforce. This program has intrinsic value to employees and HHS as an organization.

+2. Who is eligible for the HHS Mentoring Program?

All federal HHS and Commissioned Corps employees may participate in the program.

+3. How long are participants in the HHS Mentoring Program?

Mentors and Mentees are paired for the duration of one year. At the end of the one year period, the mentor and mentee may choose to remain in the same mentoring relationship or select another mentoring relationship to be completed over the course of the next year.

+4. Can I participate as a mentor and as a mentee?

Yes, participants can serve simultaneously as a mentor and mentee within their home OPDIV or through a cross-OPDIV relationship.

+5. What is the difference between the Senior-to-Junior and the Peer-to-Peer platforms?

The HHS Mentoring Program offers two platforms for mentoring relationships: Senior-to-Junior and Peer-to-Peer.

Under this platform, participants are paired with a mentor of senior career level.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)
Under this platform, participants are paired with a mentor of equivalent career level.

+6. How are mentees matched to mentors within the HHS Mentoring Program?

A mentoring program is only as effective as the relationships that are developed between mentees and mentors. The “chemistry” between the mentor and mentee as well as a match between the mentor’s expertise and the mentee’s developmental needs are critical components for a successful relationship. Therefore, it is important to select a mentor that suits your unique developmental objectives. There are three ways in which participants will be matched: 1) Auto-Matching, 2) Self-Selection, and 3) Third-Party Matching (non-system).


Auto-Matching should be used by mentees to locate potential mentors that are available in the system. This matching method is ideal for mentees who are looking to use a system generated match to find a complementary mentor. The auto-matching system will automatically match the mentee using the following criteria:

• The mentee’s developmental needs and the mentor’s areas of expertise
• Professional goals of the mentee in relation to the career history of the mentor
• Mentoring platform preferences (i.e., Peer-to-Peer and Senior-to-Junior)
• Geographic location of the mentee and mentor

Self-Selection Matching

The Self-Selection Matching option will allow a mentee to query a mentor by name, OPDIV or geographic location. This option is ideal for mentees that have interest in a particular mentor due to familiarity with a potential mentor and their expertise. It can also be used for mentoring relationships that are already in progress at an OpDiv level or an informal mentoring relationship.

Third-Party Matching

The third-party matching method should only be used by mentees if they have experienced difficulty in using the other matching methods. The third-party matching process allows the OpDiv Coordinator (View OpDiv Coordinator's List ) to conduct a search of the online matching system in order to locate a potential mentor for the mentee. The OpDiv Coordinator will provide the mentee with a list of potential mentors based on the specified need and issue. Once the mentee receives the information, the mentee should speak with the potential mentors and both parties can determine if the relationship will be a good fit. Once the pair is confirmed, the mentee should go into the system and follow the steps for the Self-Select matching.

+7. What is expected of a mentor?

Mentoring is an active partnership that is aimed at fostering professional growth and development. In order for the HHS Mentoring Program to be successful, mentors and mentees must be active and committed participants.

HHS mentors are the crux of this Program. We are relying on these individuals to aid in the continual renewal and increase of knowledge within the HHS workforce. These individuals should possess very specific knowledge, skills and abilities that are aligned with the program purpose and HHS mission, vision, and core values. Additionally, general characteristics of an effective mentor include:

• Strong interpersonal skills
• Organizational knowledge
• Technical competence
• Strong leadership skills
• Sense of Personal power
• Ability to maintain confidentiality of mentoring relationship
• Willingness to be supportive and patient

While a mentor should be fully supportive of a mentee’s professional development and should provide encouragement and guidance, it is not the role of a mentor to advocate on behalf of the mentee in terms of promotion, special assignments, or changes in employment.

Outlined below are the specific responsibilities of the mentor in the mentor/mentee relationship:

• Establish mentoring agreements that outline the terms of the relationship.
• Communicate with mentees regularly, as established by the mentoring agreement.
• Participate in orientation, training events, and additional mentoring activities.
• Assist mentees with the establishment of an IDP.
• Provide advice, coaching, and/or feedback to mentees on a regular basis.
• Complete and submit progress reports to OPDIV coordinators.
• Maintain confidentiality within mentoring relationships.
• Guide the mentee to the completion of the program.

+8. What is the role of my supervisor?

The manager/supervisor plays a critical role in the success of the mentoring program by providing ongoing support to employees. The manager/supervisor should:

• Encourage and acknowledge employees participation in the program.
• Provide feedback on the mentoring program to OPDIV/STAFFDIV Coordinators.
• Support employees in developing and executing the IDP.
• Support mentoring program training events by allowing employees to participate.
• Communicate the benefits to employees.

+9. How will the program be evaluated?

The evaluation of the program will assess levels of satisfaction with the mentoring relationship and effectiveness of the mentoring program based on the overall program objectives using surveys and other evaluation methods as determined by the program management. The program evaluation will be based on the following:

• Accomplishment of Overall Program Objectives
• Selection/Matching Process
• Mentoring Relationship
• Training
• Program Support

The long-term success of the HHS Mentoring Program will hinge on ongoing evaluation of the program and the accomplishment of its goals in order to achieve continuous improvement.

+10. Can I end my relationship during the program?

In the event that a mentoring relationship is not working as effectively as it should after 3 months, either partner may terminate the relationship. Pairs should discuss in the mentoring agreement how they will end the relationship should there be a need. The role of the OPDIV coordinator is to provide guidance to the pairs prior to terminating the relationship.

+11. What if I am already in an existing mentoring relationship within my OPDIV?

The HHS Mentoring Program is designed to be an all-inclusive program that exemplifies the “One HHS” vision. Therefore, participants in existing mentoring programs within HHS should register in the Mentoring Matching System. Since these mentoring relationships are underway, program requirements will be waived for participants that have already completed various elements of the program (e.g., orientation, developed a mentoring agreement and IDP). While the requirements will be waived for these pairs, they may participate in any of the HHS events. New mentoring relationships formed in the HHS Mentoring Program are expected to comply with program requirements.

+12. How many mentees can I have in the mentoring program?

Mentors may participate in up to 5 mentoring relationships at one time based on their workload and time constraints.

+13. How many mentors can I have in the mentoring program?

Mentees may have only one mentor during the one-year program.

Last revised: 12/18/2008

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