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Mentoring Matters at NASA

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Wed Mar 29 2017

Mentoring Matters at NASA
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Mentoring Matters at NASA-d8451c6873bc26b526a945ec1e5d77bab059a508192a743bee35ad3c16cbc06b

Mentoring is an important training tool that has demonstrable positive results when used properly. Research shows that employees who participating in the mentoring community are more retained, learn more, and assimilate better into an organization’s culture more quickly.

In order to leverage these benefits, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center developed its mentoring program, Mentoring Matters. The program is a comprehensive multidimensional mentoring program that provides a platform for sharing information and transferring knowledge, skills, and experiences. Additionally, the Mentoring Matters program has helped create a viable cross-center approach to networking and has encouraging diversity and bolstered inclusion in the department.

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The program provides a perfect opportunity for frequent and open interactions between Goddard employees, which includes workers in Wallops Island, Virginia, Fairmont, West Virginia (IV&V), and New York (GISS). The program itself is unique because it allows employees to establish their own partnerships and determine the level of formality that best meets their professional needs and time commitments.

To accomplish this, Mentoring Matters has incorporated innovative ways of using technology, such as a web-based platform that contains collaborative tools and best-practice components such as the ability to collect data. The web-based data collection component serves as valuable tool in determining what aspects of the mentoring relationships and program are working and what areas could benefit from real-time correction or adjustment. In addition to using a web-based platform, the mentoring program hosts virtual open houses and information sessions that provide mentee and mentor training through facilitated webinars and group sessions, and a series of hybrid mentoring education activities that combine asynchronous online and classroom instruction.

Several of the center-wide developmental, supervisory, and technical programs leverage Mentoring Matters and its resources by including it as a part of their program’s developmental components, including:

  • Leadership Development Excellence in Management 

  • New Supervisory Program 

  • System Engineer Education Program 

  • Flight Project Development Program 

  • Applied Engineering and Technology.

By leveraging new technological tools, Mentoring Matters is changing traditional views of how mentoring works, specifically by creating virtual mentoring communities. These virtual communities allow mentoring programs to expand to a broader network for both the mentor and mentee and overcome barriers such as location and time. The Goddard Center’s employees are geographically diverse, but the program has allowed employees to form and maintain meaningful relationships without physical proximity.

As more workplaces embrace cutting-edge communications technologies, mentoring is no longer being viewed as a one-size-fits-all proposition, especially a technical organization such as NASA. Today’s modern mentoring is about having open, flexible learning relationships in which anyone can take part, anyone can share information and insights, and anyone can be a learner.

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For a deep dive into NASA’s mentoring program, join me at ATD 2017 Conference & Exposition for the session: How to Leverage Modern Mentoring With Your Organization’s Developmental and Technical Programs.

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