Case Study: United States Naval Academy
The leadership of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) Class of 1969 recognized the importance of mentoring in achieving performance excellence. To that end, they selected Wisdom Share software to help connect its alumni base across all of the different generations.
The aim of the USNA Alumni Mentoring Program (AMP) is to inspire alumni to set higher goals, achieve more, make more informed decisions and have greater satisfaction in their military service and in selected second endeavors. Specifically, the goals of USNA AMP are to:
- Further the achievement of the Academy's mission to have more alumni ready to "assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government";
- Improve retention in the Naval Service/Marine Corps;
- Energize the culture of alumni helping alumni to benefit the Country, Navy/Marine Corps, Academy, and generations of alumni and midshipmen.
The program administrators identified three areas they felt were going to be critical to their success: 1) the Match, 2) the recruiting process and 3) the quality of the relationship.
The AMP team recognized that the matching algorithm is the lynchpin of the matching process because it "establishes a strong foundation for the initial rapport and subsequently sustains the relationship.” Through years of research, Mentor Resources has learned that personality factors in conjunction with other business criteria contribute to the highest level of compatibility. This algorithm determined the way forward.
The recruitment process was also a critical component of their mentoring program. The AMP team found that one-to-one and face-to-face referrals were the most effective way to introduce new mentors to AMP. Current participants are encouraged to share their mentoring experiences and AMP with fellow USNA alumni at reunions and annual meetings. They also use social media and do outreach in alumni publications and career fairs.
Once matched online, most participants connect by phone. However, they also log onto Wisdom Share where they are guided through the milestones of the mentoring process. They can also share files, communicate with each other and access common content that is relevant to their relationship.
Some pairs meet once to discuss a particular issue while others develop a longer lasting bond over time. Participants may sign up as both a mentor and a protégé and be involved with multiple mentors and protégés. The program is set up to be flexible and meet the needs of the individual participants.
Besides the match, the USNA also noted that consistent communication and online goal setting have been instrumental in creating effective matches – ones that stay connected and accomplish their goals.
More than 1,000 alumni are participating in the USNA AMP and enrollment continues to increase. Survey results show that the USNA alumni are experiencing greater satisfaction in their lives and careers as a result of mentoring though AMP. One survey participant wrote, “I have learned so much from my mentor. He helps with big picture issues and day-to-day difficulties. My only regret is that I didn't join this program earlier.”
Another alumni wrote, “Joining the Alumni Mentoring Program is one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made…My mentor and friend is invaluable. He inspires me to be my best and true self—for that, I can never thank him enough. To the Class of ’69, thank you for your gift. It has changed my life.”
Besides a focused strategy on recruiting and the right matching algorithm, the USNA identified factors as keys to establishing a successful, growing program.
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