1. Kansas State University
  2. »K-State Research and Extension
  3. »KSRE Tuesday Letter
  4. »On Mentoring

KSRE Tuesday Letter

Other publications

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

August 8, 2023

On Mentoring

Submitted by Gregg Hadley

You may have noticed that we are currently taking applications for three positions on our New Agent Coaches team. The New Agent Coaches team, a largely self-directed team, forms the nucleus of our mentoring program for new agents.

Prior to this team being launched two years ago, the mentoring program consisted of the Extension Administration Team linking new agent mentees with experienced agent mentors. It was a simple and straightforward program.

Simple and straightforward programs are often the best way to get something accomplished. Unfortunately, the results of this mentoring program were disappointing. While some departing agents in their exit survey indicated that they had a wonderful experience with their mentor, it was all too common for departing agents to indicate that their experience with the mentoring program was lacking.

Sometimes it was due to the mentor’s time or distance constraints. Sometimes the mentoring agent was not very skilled in mentoring. Sometimes the mentoring agent never even tried to connect with their mentee. In certain circumstances, mentoring agents even gave very questionable and even unprofessional advice.

Also, the changing make up of our agent workforce made this style of mentoring program extremely challenging. Simply put, it is hard to pair individual new agents with a single mentor when agents with less than three years of experience represents a very large proportion of our agent workforce.

Thus, two years ago, we took a different approach. We recruited for and hired (via a small stipend) a team of excellent agent mentors, the New Agent Coaches team, to form the nucleus of our mentoring program. Note: I use the term 'nucleus.' They provide the leadership for our mentoring program and meet with our new agents in both group and one-on-one formats.

You may have noted that I twice referred to the New Agent Coaches team as the nucleus of our mentoring program. The reason I used the term 'nucleus' is that while they are at the center of the program, everyone in our system is responsible for mentoring our new agents. The members of the New Agent Coaches team frequently connect our agent mentees with mentors for both short and long term mentoring. They also encourage our new agents to seek out mentee and mentor relationships with agents they respect.

So, if you are concerned about mentoring our new agent colleagues, I encourage you to apply to be a member of the New Agent Coaches team. The full job description and application is available at www.ksre.ksu.edu/jobs.

Whether you become a member of the New Agent Coaching team or not, I also ask that you remember that everyone has a mentoring responsibility. If a member of the New Agent Coaches Team or a new agent colleague asks you for mentoring, whether long or short term, step up.

When asked to contribute or if you just have questions about mentoring or our mentoring program, contact a member of the New Agent Coaches team to learn more. Those members are: Matt Young, Tristen Cope, Liz Brunscheen Cartagena, James Coover, Michelle Beran, Allen Baker, Justin Goodno, Anna Muir, Kaitlyn Peine and Anne Pitts.