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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 10, 2021

The New Agent Coaching Team: A New Approach to Mentoring

Submitted by Jennifer R Wilson

We continually strive to welcome and acclimate new agents into the KSRE system through a robust onboarding program. While transformational plans were in progress prior to the pandemic shutdown, COVID-19 did fast-track the transition to a hybrid format onboarding program. New agent onboarding now includes a combination of face-to-face and virtual learning opportunities through Zoom and a Canvas course.

The next step in the transformation process involves our mentoring program. Beginning in September, we will support new agents with a New Agent Coaching Team versus one-on-one mentoring.

Traditionally, new agents have been assigned one on one mentors to work with them throughout the first year of employment. These mentors were selected from veteran agents who work in close geographic proximity to the new agent. As we experience more attrition and retirements it becomes more difficult to match mentors in such a way. Additionally, we know our staff desire opportunities for leadership and promotion. The new agent coaching team approach has been designed to enhance the support given to our new agents and provide opportunities for leadership and advancement within our organization.

Five to seven coaches, representative of regions and program areas, will be selected through an application process to serve in a coaching, mentoring and advising role for new local unit staff. The position will come with an annual additional pay stipend of $2000. The coaching team will take on mentoring responsibilities for all new agents, eliminating the traditional formal mentoring program that has been in place for many years. Coaching team members will work with new agents both one on one, in group settings and by networking new agents with other colleagues who can aid in their training and development. We will draw on the experiences and expertise of the coaching team to determine the finer details of the new program.

Applications are now being accepted for these positions and are due by August 24 for best consideration. Training will take place in early to mid-September, and the new team will begin working with new agents in late September. The full job description and application is available at www.ksre.ksu.edu/jobs.

Current mentoring relationships will continue under the traditional mentoring program until the new agent’s first year is complete.