As part of its quest for continual improvement to ensure inclusion at all levels of its organization, the Joint Munitions Command is implementing a formalized mentorship program.
At JMC, mentorship is viewed as a powerful tool for professional development, which can give employees the opportunity to expand leadership, interpersonal, and technical skills. It’s a voluntary, mentee-driven program where a mentee seeks out a mentor, and together they determine goals for successful outcomes.
“A mentor is very important to a person’s career. In fact, my mentor helped me to learn and grow and actually pushed me to try different things,” said JoEtta Fisher, executive director for ammunition and deputy to the commander, who also serves as the JMC mentorship program champion. “JMC’s new mentorship program is a formal program, but it’s very flexible. I’m excited that it’s being offered to our workforce.”
Every employee of JMC, whether working at its headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal, or working at one of its 17 depots and ammunition plants strung across the U.S., has the ability and access to serve as a mentee or mentor.
“Access to mentors is important and essential. Everyone needs a mentor. I believe people should seek a mentor who offers a different perspective and encourages them to look objectively at themselves,” said Stoney Ross, director of equal employment opportunity at JMC. “Having mentors has been key to my success, and I continue to touch base with them a couple of times a week.”
To see if the idea of being a mentor or a mentee is right for them, JMC’s employees can reference an informative guide found on the organization’s SharePoint site. Many employees have taken initial training sessions, and many have already signed up to be a mentor or mentee.
From this program, JMC anticipates that mentees will reap benefits such as gaining knowledge, skills and expertise from someone not in the traditional chain of command; receiving feedback and suggestions for growth; gaining a network of leader support; and developing a better understanding of the organizational culture of the command.
Benefits to mentors may include gaining exposure to another area of JMC’s operations; a satisfaction in sharing with others; a feeling of valuable engagement and renewed enthusiasm for their jobs; as well as an opportunity to build leadership, management, technical and interpersonal skills.
“I have had many informal mentors throughout my career that I didn’t even realize were mentoring me until I reached out to a senior leader as part of the formal mentorship program at JMC. My mentor has provided me with valuable information, which has helped me improve leadership skills in multiple areas,” said Peggy Holvoet, chief of the field operations and support division of human resources.
John Campbell, deputy chief of staff for resource management, summed up the program when he said, “Mentees should consider their needs and seek out the right people to consult and they should consider different kinds of mentors for different needs. For mentors, it will be rewarding to help others and to watch mentees’ professional growth. This program will not only benefit mentees, but also mentors and ultimately, the organization.”
The command’s leaders believe this initiative will create productive work relationships within the organization, which will sustain a resilient, diverse and inclusive workforce. Employees will share experience and knowledge not found in a textbook or classroom and will work together across organizational functional lines to support, not only each other, but organizational goals. This program is also expected to serve as a way to transfer skills, knowledge and organizational culture from experienced to newer employees.
As the mentorship program matures, JMC plans to introduce the program to incoming employees via its onboarding program and in welcome packets to give new employees a ready sense of inclusion so they can quickly become contributing members of the organization.
The Joint Munitions Command produces small-, medium- and large-caliber ammunition items for the Department of Defense, is the logistics integrator for life-cycle management of ammunition, and provides a global presence of technical support to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. The JMC’s logistics operation is unique to the Department of Defense and its industrial base is an important asset in supporting the Warfighter.