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UCOP participants start their year-long mentor relationships

The UCOP Mentorship Program has launched 20 mentor–mentee pairings, one-on-one relationships that will officially occur from May 2011 to May 2012 but that have the potential to enrich careers, create enduring friendships and change lives.

The program launched in February, a pilot effort inspired by staff input and trends on college campuses and companies nationwide. (The Wall Street Journal reported in 2009 that 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies sponsor formalized mentorship programs.) UCOP staff leading the program worked with managers of the successful staff mentorship programs at UCSF and Berkeley to follow best practices and borrow program components.

The UCOP pilot specifically targeted as mentees career employees in job classifications PSS 1 through 5 with at least two years of OP experience. Of 29 applicants, 20 were accepted into the program and have been paired with senior staff serving as mentors, including UCOP leaders Nathan Brostrom and Dan Dooley.

The program’s most recent official activities were two workshops held in May, one for mentors and one for mentees, right before each pair initiated a formal agreement for their one-year relationship.

“Encourage your mentees to stretch themselves and move out of their comfort zone. That’s how we all grow and learn,” advised facilitator Katy Liddell at the mentor workshop on May 12. “I always learn more from the younger people than they learn from me,” she added.

Liddell, a learning consultant at UCSF who is supporting UCOP’s effort, guided program participants through some of the rewards and challenges they can expect to experience as mentors.

She emphasized the importance of encouragement and nurturing, for example, and made a distinction between managing and mentoring. She admonished mentors not to take over, coerce or allow friendship to cloud good judgment.

Throughout the year, program staff will continue to offer the pairs support and will evaluate their experience at specific intervals and at year end.

Human Resources Vice President Dwaine Duckett, who spearheaded the pilot effort, says his team is continuing to refine program elements in preparation for expanding the program and broadening eligibility in future years.

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