Letter from the Chief Military Engineer, 4 December 2019
The aim of this letter is to encourage all members of the Branch to develop mentoring relationships, be they as mentor, mentee or both, regardless of your rank.
As several of you probably know, numerous studies have shown that mentorship has a positive effect on personal and professional satisfaction and nurtures growth, development and performance at work.
Already, Branch members of the Royal Canadian Air Force have had a mentorship program for years but this program was not offered to the members of the Royal Canadian Engineers. I believe that it is time to provide all Engineers with similar opportunities.
So, what is mentorship? There are several definitions and they get to the same idea. Here is one from Mentorar Québec, “Mentorship is a means of learning and development based on a free, voluntary and confidential interpersonal relationship (the mentoring relationship) in which an experienced person (the mentor) uses their wisdom and expertise to foster the development of another person (the mentee) who has skills and abilities to acquire as well as professional and personal goals to reach."
It is important to understand the mentor’s role. The mentor is a positive person who endeavours to help the mentee develop, both professionally and personally. They must have good listening skills, be able to establish a good relationship, share their experience and aspire to help the mentee grow. The mentor must be a model to emulate, and should ideally be a serving or retired military member so that they grasp our realities. Our proud Branch has a wealth of people with enviable qualities and experiences — mentees will be spoiled for choice. Mentors can also be found in other Branches. it is also important to understand what a mentor is not. As such, the mentor does not play a role of advocate or sponsor for the mentee in terms of specific assignments or positions. This responsibility remains with the chain of command.
The mentee is responsible for initiating the relationship with the mentor, and for identifying what they wish to obtain from the mentoring relationship. Once they have selected a mentor, it will be incumbent upon them to cultivate a trusting relationship, ask for advice and share their challenges, opportunities, and doubts. We have a natural tendency to choose a mentor who resembles us and who shares our strengths; however, the mentoring relationship can be exponentially more beneficial with a mentor that complements our skills and knowledge. Moreover, it is completely appropriate to change mentors as necessary.
The mentoring relationship is informal and voluntary; it is not to be reported or evaluated by the chain of command. The main goal is to provide ourselves with tools for professional development.
However, in order to clearly define the relationship, it may be useful for the mentee to propose an informal and confidential agreement to the mentor to set out expectations, the process, meeting frequency, and agreement duration. A proposed agreement format is attached. The agreement should be modified to dovetail with the specific mentoring that is sought (leadership, executive skills, communication, inclusion, and diversity, etc). It is noteworthy that a mentor can simultaneously be a mentee.
You will find enclosed a typical agreement for the mentor and the mentee in order to guide the relationships and the expectations of both parties.
This agreement is confidential between the two individuals. However, should you wish to register your agreement, please send the doc to the Branch Adjt. He will maintain the record on your behalf and only he will have access to it.
I encourage you all to develop a mentoring relationship. I believe that mentorship will be highly beneficial to our Branch. Let us take advantage of the wealth of experience and knowledge of our members, both serving and retired.
Chief Military Engineer