On Feb. 12, FDOT District 4 officially launched its mentorship program, designed to help employees gain valuable knowledge and insight from more experienced members of the department.
Throughout the program, nineteen mentor/mentee pairs will participate in nine months of one-on-one coaching. The pairs will meet at least once a month, be invited to attend optional mentorship events, and have access to professional development resources aimed at helping participants achieve their goals throughout the duration of the mentorship.
The District 4 Mentorship Program started as a single idea written down on a piece of paper. Autumn Young, District Freight Coordinator and member of the mentoring program team, eventually got her idea for a formal mentoring program greenlit by Secretary Gerry O’Reilly during the first District 4 Shark Tank event. Shark Tank is an annual internal innovation competition for FDOT employees.
“The mentorship program got off the ground through the contributions of many, many people around the District,” said Young. “Now, 38 staff, and hopefully many more in the future, are benefiting because all of these people went out of their way to support a small, seemingly insignificant idea jotted down on my yellow notepad.”
During the mentoring program kick-off on Feb. 12 in Ft. Lauderdale, participants got to know each other, participate in professional relationship-building activities, and discuss what it means to be a good mentor or mentee.
The mentoring team believes that the program will benefit District 4 by improving managerial competency, cultivating leadership skills, helping new hires get up to speed faster, facilitating retention and transfer of knowledge, creating an inclusive and diverse culture and retaining talent through long-term career planning and personal development.
“Pairs are given practical tools, resources, and support from the mentoring team to empower the mentees to create a successful relationship with their mentor and achieve their goals – whether it be learning how to best prepare for a promotion, simply learning more about the department, or figuring out how to develop achievable goals altogether,” said Young.
The program supports Secretary Kevin Thibault’s goal of attracting, retaining and training talented and passionate FDOT employees.
Matthew Carlock, Construction Hybrid Manager at FDOT District 4 Palm Beach Operations, said that he joined the program to get exposure to different perspectives and experiences. He was paired with Secretary O’Reilly.
“Being in construction, I wanted to learn more about the development of the work program and creating projects that ultimately come to construction,” Carlock said. “I also wanted to learn leadership skill sets to aid in my growth as a manager…I believe the mentoring program provides an opportunity for employees to interact with other department staff other than their direct supervisor and aid in their development.”
One of the mentoring program team’s objectives was to make the mentor/mentee pairings as organic as possible. The goals of mentees were one of the primary factors taken into account when selecting an appropriate mentor.
James Poole, District Drainage Engineer and one of this year’s mentors, felt compelled to join the mentoring program to “pay it forward” for all of the investments that his FDOT mentors made into his growth throughout his 17-year career.
“[The mentoring program] affords us a unique opportunity to set aside time to invest in personal growth and development,” Poole said. “There’s no such class or formal training for the valuable insights you can gain through a personal relationship.”
According to Young, the mentorship program gives staff members a way to work on their goals, whatever they may be.
“The mentorship program gives staff of all levels and career paths the opportunity to be coached one-on-one by someone outside your direct chain of command on how to achieve what matters most to you,” she said.
Applications for the District 4 Mentorship Program will re-open in December 2020.