(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

We all remember key choices we’ve made both personally and professionally that have defined our present condition. When making those decisions, we often rely on parents, teachers and other mentors to help steer us in the right direction. Their thoughts and input helped shape us into the people we are today and our paths forward.

My own career has been measurably enriched by many mentors over the years, both formal and informal. Without their guidance, I would not be where I am today- a member of the Senior Executive Service with the privilege of helping provide munitions readiness to warfighters.

My most memorable mentor assisted me while I worked as a newly assigned ammunition management intern from the Defense Ammunition Center.  He was an inventory manager whose wealth of knowledge and experience was renowned. Everyone went to him with their questions, and I wanted to be just like him- someone who helps others find answers.

Throughout my career, multiple people pointed me towards future advancement opportunities. They taught me that just doing your job well isn’t necessarily enough for a promotion- you have to proactively work towards it. I learned to take advantage of professional development classes and other trainings to pick up new skills or refine old ones.

Now I serve as JMC’s senior civilian, responsible for the command’s mission to produce, distribute, store and demilitarize ammunition for joint services and coalition partners to sustain worldwide readiness. I am grateful to all the people who helped me get where I am today.

I speak from experience when I say that both serving as a mentor and receiving mentoring will benefit you professionally. Mentors gain opportunities to practice leadership skills such as coaching, providing guidance and building trust in your teammates. It’s an excellent chance to be recognized for the knowledge and experience you share with others.

However, receiving mentorship isn’t just for new team members. Everyone can benefit from guidance, especially if you’re trying to learn new skills, manage new responsibilities or grow your professional network.

As a leader, it’s vital to mentor and guide employees. It’s so important to help others understand the choices ahead of them and recommend paths that will help them reach their goals. We can all be mentors at any level within the organization and help those with less experience in the tasks we understand and have mastered.

Mentoring is essential to furthering your organization’s mission. A 2008 study by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the semi-judicial, independent government agency that oversees merit systems in federal employment, found that organizations with mentoring programs had the most engaged employees and the highest performance ratings and retention rates. Mentoring is a flexible tool that can increase engagement with employees from day 1, as well as those with longer tenure.

A good first step is attending a JMC mentorship program informational session to learn more about how the program could help you. I encourage you to think about the people you admire in the workforce and build relationships with them to have a support system as you develop your own career path towards your future goals.

For more information about the program, please contact G1 at 309-782-4896 or 309-782-3575.