The Guiding Outstanding and Accountable Leaders program graduated its first class Nov. 7. GOAL is a mentoring program designed to provide support to new and upcoming leaders. Participation was open to any WAPA employee whose duty station was within the Desert Southwest regional footprint and who was in their first role as a formal leader at WAPA, including supervisors, foremen and team leads.
GOAL began in February with daylong training and orientation. Mentors and mentees came together to establish a common understanding of mentoring, gain insight into how to most effectively communicate with each other and establish their areas of focus.
Nine months later, the mentors and mentees reflected on what they had discovered in their mentoring partnerships and provided feedback on ways to improve the program for next year.
This was followed by a graduation ceremony hosted by Senior Vice President Ron Moulton, who served as both GOAL’s senior sponsor and a mentor in the program. During the ceremony, participants shared their experiences.
“It was really helpful to bounce some ideas off my mentor and to have a support network to fall back on,” said mentee and Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist Sean Berry.
“Sitting down together, problem solving, and working through issues has been helpful to me,” said mentor and Supervisory Power System Dispatcher Dan DeGracie.
As part of the ceremony, each participant received a certificate of recognition along with a customized, commemorative coffee mug designed by GOAL mentor and Vice President of Transmission Service Pete Heiman. Each mug was individualized with the participant’s name and a word cloud that uniquely describes them.
What is GOAL?
GOAL centers on a mentoring relationship in which a mentor—an experienced and trusted advisor—provides guidance and shares knowledge with a mentee.
Mentoring is a key component of leadership development. A mentoring program has the ability to advance relationships between layers of management and improve knowledge transfer.
As mentors, leadership supports employees at all levels to enhance connections up and down the hierarchy and provide opportunities for professional growth. Additionally, the benefits of a mentoring program align with WAPA’s core value of “Seek. Share. Partner,” as those employees who seek to have a mentoring partnership share in the growth of each other and WAPA.
Mentoring is an important tool for professional growth. It benefits both the mentor and mentee in terms of learning, engagement and confidence.
“If you have the opportunity to teach something, then you know it better,” said DeGracie.
The GOAL program was created with exactly this perspective in mind.
What can we do now?
For employees stationed outside of DSW, WAPA has plans to develop an organizationwide mentoring program, expected to begin in fiscal year 2021. The WAPA-wide program will be open to every employee at all stages of their careers.
Acting Chief Strategy Officer Stacey Decker, who previously led WAPA’s Leadership Development Taskforce, said that the work that has gone into developing the GOAL program “will take us that much further along once the WAPA-wide program is ready to launch.”
Those who are eager to serve as a mentor or mentee sooner rather than later may work with someone as part of an informal mentoring partnership. Simply select someone who possesses something you would like to have—character, knowledge, experience, career, reputation or anything else—and share your goals with them. Ask them about serving as their mentee. If they agree, then you’ve got yourself a mentor … informally!
Financial Manager Ethel Redhair suggests employees be clear with themselves about what they would like to gain from having a mentor. “Pick someone you can aspire to,” she said. “Seek out those individuals that can help you grow.”
Whether formal or informal, having a mentor can be an important step in one’s career.
“These are strong relationships that go on for years and can bolster both your career and personal life,” Moulton concluded. “Mentor-mentee relationships are for life.”
Note: Fink is a management analyst.