Discussion: changes to mentorship program on Starfleet Command

Problem: Well, there's a few problems with our current mentorship program...

1) The Personnel Department has been struggling in recent terms to recruit a Mentors Coordinator and maintain an active roster of mentors. As a related issue, the focus of the Personnel Department has been in keeping track of our membership, processing new membership applications and placements, assisting with vacancies and recommendations - i.e. the type of stuff we expect from the Personnel Department. In addition, the Personnel Department will soon be focusing on getting up to speed with changes with Exodus Recruiting mentors, providing them resources, and following up with the mentors list seems a bit of an outlier from the rest of the PDept's responsiblities.

2) The Academy, which is the best placed department to providing training resources, guidance to new members, and working with and recruiting mentors, is not engaged in this process outside of the Academy's hybrid role of also being a fleet with two ships.

3) We currently in practice have three mentorship programs that are administered in three completely different ways:

-an Academy ship mentorship program, where mentors are automatically assigned to cadets, those mentors are recruited for the most part by the ship's CO, and ongoing training/follow-up with those mentors comes from the CO (and sometimes the XO or CNS).

-a non-Academy ship mentorship program, where mentors are assigned by the PDept as requested by the new member. The PDept is responsible for recruitment of these mentors. Outside of the bylaw requirement for mentors to have at least 3 months of experience, there are no rules about who can be a mentor. The PDept provides a sample email for mentors to send, but there is otherwise no work to keep mentors active and engaged.

-a Command Mentorship Program, where members can be mentored to become a DH, XO or CO. This program is administered by the Academy, and mentors are recruited by the Academy. Member self-select the mentor they want, and report back to the Academy if they are unsatisifed with their mentor. I do not believe much in the way of additoinal resources are supplied, but I could be wrong.

(The first two are for the most part bylaw requirements for the PDept. The third is an optional program created by the Academy (with Presidential input at the time), but is not set policy.)

Improving our mentorship program may assist our retention issues, and could result in increase number of available/interested/qualified members for more senior positions in the club. In addition, a well-run mentorship program could be used to market STF for new members.

Proposal:

The proposal is to move the entire mentorship program from the PDept to the Academy. With the Academy beginning on a new focus on their departmental work (now that the Academy fleet is down to two ships), the Academy can use their experience and expertise to provide resources to mentors, actively recruit mentors, and have the option to set additional qualifications to become mentors (this last one has to be optional, as we need to balance between the need for qualified mentors and the need to at least begin rebuiling our mentor list).

This isn't a magic bullet to solve our mentorship program issues. But I do believe that by streamlining the program, merging the resources into one place, and using the expertise of the Academy (including the possibility of creating a mentorship course), we could see both an improvement to our current mentorship program, and be better able to identify where we still need to improve.

With that in mind, I am proposing the following bill: (note: the current bylaw requirement for mentors can be found at https://www.star-fleet.com/library/bookshelf/charters/charter-pd.html#id...)

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Bill #1

This bill amends both the PDICT and CADET bylaws.

PDICT is amended by deleting the section titled “Mentors Program”.

CADET is amended by adding the following after the section “Departing From the Academy Fleet” (with any subsequent sections renumbered accordingly):

Mentoring Program

The Academy shall be responsible for maintaining a Mentoring Program. The Mentoring Program shall be maintained and administered by a Mentors Coordinator, who shall be appointed by the Academy Commandant. Unless otherwise expressly specified in this bylaw, the Academy Commandant may delegate to the Mentors Coordinator all work related to the Mentoring Program.

At a minimum, the Mentoring Program shall have two components:

1) Mentors assigned to all cadets in the Academy Fleet; and
2) Mentors assigned to new members who are on a non-Academy ship, where such a mentor has been requested by the new member (either in the new member’s application or after the new member has joined the club).

In addition, the Academy Commandant may create or terminate any additional components to the Mentoring Program, including programs to mentor members who are interested in taking on roles and responsibilities on a ship or elsewhere in the club. The Academy Commandant cannot delegate the responsibility of approving or terminating optional components to the Mentoring Program.

The Academy shall be responsible for creating a set of standards and qualifications for a member to become a mentor and remain a mentor, including whether there can be any exceptions and who approves those exceptions. The Academy shall ensure a balance is maintained between having highly qualified mentors and ensuring that there are enough mentors for the needs of the club. At a minimum, all mentors must have been a member for a minimum of three months, which cannot be waived by Academy policy.

The Academy shall be responsible for recruiting and approving mentors for the Mentoring Program.

The Academy shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that every ship that accepts new members has at least one active mentor. The Academy may request the assistance of a ship’s Commanding Officer for that purpose. On an Academy ship, a Department Head shall automatically be appointed as the mentor for the cadets in that department.

The Academy may set policy for the responsibilities of the mentors. At a minimum, all mentors must make personal contact with the member they are assigned to mentor, be available to answer the member’s questions, assist the member with learning how to role-play in the club, and help the member with any problems or queries.

The Academy shall maintain a set of resources to assist mentors, which may include draft emails to be sent by mentors, links to resources, and a mentoring course.

The Academy shall maintain an internal list of active mentors and what ship’s they are active on, as well as an internal list of which members have been assigned to which mentors. The Academy shall report monthly on the status of the Mentoring Program, including how many active members there are, how many active mentoring assignments there are, ships that currently have no active mentors, and any problems that need to be addressed in the Program.

The Personnel Department shall be responsible for advising the Mentors Coordinator if a member outside of the Academy has requested a mentor.

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Discussion:

As I mentioned in the proposal, I appreciate this isn't going to be an automatic solution to our mentorship problems. But I believe it is a step in the right direction. With that in mind, here are some of the issues I think should be discussed:

1) There is a logistical downside to moving the mentorship program to the Academy. The PDept processes new membership applications and knows where a mentor has been requested. They know what ships have active mentors and not. Regardless of what procedure is used in the new system to address who assigns mentors to new members (see discussion point #2), we have increased to some extent the logistical complexity of the mentorship program by moving administration away from the PDept. I believe this is a minor downside and is made up for by the advantages. Others might disagree, though.

2) What should happen when the PDept processes a new membership applicaiton for a non-Academy ship where a mentor has been requested? Under the new bylaw, the PDept advises the Academy who will then make the mentor assignment. I personally like this approach as it means the Academy can keep track of mentorship assignments, the Academy will be more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of individual mentors, and the PDept doesn't need to keep asking the Academy for an updated list (although that could be mitigated by the Academy giving the PDept access to the mentorship list). The downside is that there is a small delay between ship placement and assignment. What do others think?

3) This bylaw carries with it the three-month experience requirement in the current bylaw. My intention is to keep it - I believe that a certain amount of STF experience is required, no matter how good a role-player a new member is. I have heard, though, that not everyone agrees, so I raise that as a discussion point.

4) Are there other problems with this proposal that have not been identified that outweigh any benefits from the proposed changes?

Subject to how busy this discussion gets, I hope to close this discussion on May 14th.

Daniel Lerner
President

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