Mentoring: It Works If You Work It

You work hard every day. More importantly, you get things done.

But what about career advancement? What about the next opportunity?

If you heard about a special program that could increase your chances for a promotion by five times, would you give it a look? If the program made you feel more confident and more valued, would you sign up?

What if the opportunity is a mentoring program?

Federally Employed Women (FEW) has launched a mentoring program to support the professional development of emerging leaders, as well as expand their networks and skills.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience where valuable knowledge, invaluable experience and astute insight is shared. It offers growth opportunities on professional and personal levels.

Consider the research:

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” 

— Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring programs are a two-way street that can lead to mutually beneficial relationships on a professional and personal level. However, both parties need to have the right mindset for the magic to work.

For example, mentees should realize that mentors are giving up their time and energy to help them. Consequently, mentees should bring four things to ensure that the engagement will be a productive success:

Flexibility – Mentees should clear their schedules and make it easy for them to meet with their assigned mentor. This engagement is the beginning of a long-term relationship. While relationships can be time-consuming and inconvenient at times, the right ones are worth the trouble.

Accountability – Do what you say and say what you mean. Mentees should be fully committed to holding up their end of the bargain. Completing certain tasks by specific dates means you are onboard with the overall effort. Remember, the objective is to advance your career, so follow-through on your part will be required.

Maturity – Healthy relationships include forthright feedback and, in some cases, constructive criticism. Mentees must understand that these discussions come from a good place with the intention of advancing their current standing as a professional.

Game Plan – As a mentee, you are responsible for where your mentoring experience goes. What do you want to develop? Where is your career going? What’s your five-, 10- and 20-year plan? Your mentor will bring a lot of life experience and workplace knowledge to the table, but only you know the desired outcome.

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” 

— Whoopi Goldberg

Aside from mentees, mentors also need to bring several things to the engagement. While the program may center on the mentees, mentors have the opportunity to improve their leadership and communications skills, as well as their network. Let’s face it: Every time you teach another, you teach yourself.

Mentors should make sure to bring the following:

Active Listening – Most people believe communications is all about talking when most of it is about listening and observing. Mentors should focus their attention on their mentee to provide the best outcome. Make the time to fully understand what your mentee wants and needs before sharing your own path.

Feedback – Your background and expertise are the reasons you were invited to the party. Please provide meaningful thoughts through antidotes, stories and experiences so your mentee can learn through you.

Confidentiality – During the course of the program, there could be sensitive information shared. Be mindful. Be kind. Keep it to yourself. Leverage any insight to advance your mentee’s best interest.

Accountability – Mentors also must be accountable to make the program work. Everyone’s time is precious. Commit to the deadlines and dates. Fulfill your deliverables. This is the beginning of a long-term relationship.

“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”

 — Maya Angelou

FEW’s exclusive, annual mentoring program begins with the competitive selection of FEW members to participate followed by 12 months of focused learning objectives, webinars, training sessions and direct mentorship by senior leaders with the federal government. To be eligible for the program, a mentee candidate should be a current federal employee and an active FEW member who holds an elected or appointed position at the regional or chapter level.

Mentee applications must be submitted from April 1, 2021 through April 15, 2021. Chosen candidates will be notified in June, and the 12-month event will kick off at the 2021 National Training Program on July 26-30. Mentee graduation service will be held at the 2022 National Training Program the following July.

For more information about the program, prospective mentees and mentors should visit www.FEW.org/mentor.

You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself.” 

— Diana Ross

National Training: 7 Reasons Women Will Soar in 2021

Twenty years ago, Michelle Andrews was working as an administrative assistant.

But then she joined Federally Employed Women (FEW), which helps more than one million women become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program that begins with its national training program.

As a member of FEW, Andrews has served in leadership positions at the chapter, regional and national levels. From 2012-2016, she served as the organization’s national president, which required her to become CEO, CFO and COO for the multimillion-dollar organization.

Today, she has advanced her career as a national program manager of EEO and Diversity at the National Ocean Service.

“The information, knowledge, and skills that I have gained throughout my time with FEW has definitely impacted my career progression and personal growth,” said Andrews, who is serving as chair for this year’s National Training Program. “FEW provided me with unique opportunities that I would have never gained had I not been a member.”

FEW’s annual National Training Program is one of those unique opportunities that every federally employed woman should leverage to advance her own career. This year’s event, “Soaring to New Heights”, will be held July 26-30 at the luxurious Houston Marriott Marquis.

The National Training Program is FEW’s premiere training event that brings together presenters, speakers and attendees from across the country. The dynamic workshops align with the Executive Core Qualifications and fundamental competencies identified by the Office of Personnel Management. The objective is to help prepare FEW members with the tools needed to advance their careers back at their respective federal agencies.

Here are seven reasons why every federally employed woman should attend this year’s national event so they can soar in 2021:

Improve Job Performance

The training program’s attendees receive the necessary training to elevate their job performance. Training with FEW gives opportunities for a greater understanding of job responsibilities within their role, which builds their confidence.

Research from McKinsey & Company in partnership with Leanin.org underscores the challenge that women face when they want to earn a management position for the first time. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted—and this gap was even larger for Black women (58) and Latinas (71). Women remained in the minority when it comes to entry-level management positions as men held 62%.

FEW’s training provides its members with more resources and insight to break through and advance their career.

Improve Job Satisfaction

Training creates a supportive workplace. It shows your commitment to be better. Learning is the greatest return on your investment.

Higher job satisfaction will get you noticed in the federal ranks. According to a 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, federal employees gave low marks when asked if they were satisfied with their organization (61%), their pay (63%) or their training (57%).

FEW’s training will improve your morale despite your current workplace culture and better equip you for the next career move.

Improve Productivity

More professional development will put you in the position to become more productive. Training with FEW provides hands-on experience and helps to increase efficiency in processes to ensure project success, which in turn will improve your performance.

Research links professional development with productivity.  A study from the National Center on the Education Quality of the Workforce, for example, found that a 10% increase in workforce education leads to a 8.6% increase in productivity. The report compiled data from 3,100 U.S. employers.

In addition, organizations that offer training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formal training, according to the Association Society for Training and Development. These companies also report a 24% higher profit margin.

More STEM Classes

For the first time, FEW has added a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics component to its 2021 National Training Program. It was added to support a diversified workforce inclusive of women in cybersecurity, space and technology, engineering and biochemistry. Women consist 48% of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but they only represent 26% of computer scientists and 12% of engineers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for STEM occupations in 2019 was $86,989, compared to the median wage for non-STEM occupations at $38,160.

More Leadership Development

The National Training Program includes a two-day leadership course that will include four different topic areas: 1) Building relationships through collaboration, 2) Cultivating Motivation and Engagement, 3) Managing Change, and 4) Mentoring. One of this year’s workshops, The Human Dimension of Leadership, will provide proven strategies that will allow attendees to develop fellow team members more effectively, as well as resolve conflicts, foster teamwork and increase engagement and productivity. Whether you are transitioning into a higher leadership role or working your way into the executive ranks, the ability to get things done through other people is essential for success as a leader. 

Better Team Building

One of this year’s most anticipated workshop, Building your Bench: Keys to Building a Leadership Pipeline, is designed to equip existing leaders with the tools necessary to select candidates for future leadership positions and help determine how to develop candidates to their maximum leadership potential. Top performing organizations and leaders understand that the ability to select, integrate and develop high level leaders is critical to their organization’s success. 

Almost all surveyed employees and executives (97%) believe lack misalignment within a team impacts a project’s desired outcome. Communications is the glue that keeps teams together. Identifying and supporting the best team members will strengthen your leadership position.

More Influence

One of the most engaging and interactive workshops, The Power of Influence, will cover a compilation of strategies and techniques about organizational intelligence, team promotion, trust-building and leveraging your network. The ability to motivate and inspire others to take action is the distinguishing factor between a leader and a manager. The best leaders are those who can successfully influence up, down and across the organization, impacting business results by driving behavioral change.

To register for this year’s National Training Program, click here. If you have questions, please email us or call us between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 800-609-9669.

Seats At The Table: Why More Women Will Lead 117th Congress

The 117th Congress holds a lot of promise for women, in part, because it looks a lot more like us.

Even though last year was tough, the tough got going. Collectively, women took the step toward securing their seat at the table. They turned the presidential primaries in South Carolina and put a new tenant in the White House.

To give the new Administration the Senate along with the House of Representatives, women lead the way again with a sweep in Georgia’s runoff election in January. Now, in the case of a split vote, the deciding vote will be made by a woman – the nation’s first female vice president.

So the stage is set for Federally Employed Women (FEW) to advance its core legislative initiatives that advance working women. “With the first Vice President being a woman, a lot of issues that FEW supports could be addressed,” said Tonya Saunders, FEW’s legislative advocate. “We could see action on all of them.”

Karen M. Rainey, who serves as FEW’s President, expects more success in 2021: “I am honored to work for an organization that help the voices of women be heard and support legislation that support us.” During her tenure, FEW has advocated for legislation that have passed, including S.3749 – Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (2018), H.R. 6147 – Appropriations Minibus [pay increase] (2018) and Federal Employee Paid leave (2019)

FEW’s legislative agenda includes topics that impact federally employed women directly, as well as women in general:

EQUAL RIGHTS

FEW supports the Equal Rights Amendment that would ensure federal resources would benefit men and women equally, providing all citizens with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

An ERA passage would put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly in areas where women have historically been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence and sexual assault.

In early 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This action means ERA has reached the minimum of 38 states required by Congress for ratification to the U.S. Constitution when the amendment was passed in 1972.

ERA has already been reintroduced in the 117th Congress, thanks to support from many including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

EQUAL PAY

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was among the first federal laws in American history to address gender discrimination. Despite the program, women are paid an average approximately 77 cents for every dollar paid to men today, and the numbers are even worse for African American women and Latinas.

FEW acknowledges that much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity for women. FEW has advocated for paid parental leave for federal workers, equal pay, ERA and non-discriminatory bills for several congresses.

In 2020, FEW supported H.R. 2474 – Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which passed in February but was rejected by the Senate. The bill was the most important pro-worker labor law reform in more than 80 years, which would 1) provide tougher penalties when employers fire union supporters, 2) end employers’ ability to delay union elections,3) bar employers from holding “captive audience” anti-union meetings, 4) require greater disclosure when employers hire union-busting consultants, 5) implement binding arbitration, 6) ban permanent replacement of strikers and 7) allow unions to wage secondary boycotts and eliminates so called “right-to-work” law.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) leads the charge along with other elected officials.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

FEW supports a zero-tolerance approach to protect the recipients against all forms of sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination in the workplace.

FEW is seeking congressional action raising awareness, creating safe environments that encourage employees to speak out without fear of retaliation, and providing opportunities for federal agencies to review their policies. 

FAMILY LEAVE

FEW supports paid leave for federal employees so we can care for our families.

FEW believes the U.S. government should be a model employer, and progress will allow our members to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security.

In 2020, FEW supported H.R. 2694: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which passed in September. The bill would eliminate and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

Regarding COVID-19, FEW supported H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act last March. The bill, which passed in the House and Senate, required the federal government to provide all its employees with paid sick leave and for employees who are covered under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. The provisions ran from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

PAY RAISE FAIRNESS

FEW supports an efficient and effective government. However, FEW is opposed to a federal hiring freeze and/or reducing the federal workforce through attrition. As reported in an earlier General Accountability Office report, hiring freezes ultimately end up costing more money than they save.

FEW supports legislation that supports pay-raise fairness in the federal workforce. More than 900,000 federal employees make less than $60,000 per year. Modest pay increases are justified by the hardships federal employees have suffered in recent years due to federal government shutdowns.

15 Yoga Terms: A Mental and Physical Primer for Today’s Federal Workers

You spend the whole day hunched over your computer, stressing about deadlines.

You feel like an immovable paperweight. (You don’t even have to budge for a meeting anymore; click a link and start the video conference.)

And your body is talking back to you about this arrangement. Your lower back and chest feel a little tighter. Your more tired than ever, yet you can’t fall asleep at night.

Uncertain times have made anxiety your new bestie. It feel like it takes more energy to network with colleagues and acquire valuable training so you can advance your career.

Want to take charge of the situation? Ready to help your body move forward?

Yoga connects your mind with your body in a way that addresses all the stress and angst—including the concerning medical ailments associated with the pent-up frustrations.

People who practice yoga swear by it. But there’s even some evidence that it can help improve your health.

Physicians organizations say yoga is a good first step when is comes to lower back pain. Yoga can also help people suffering from arthritis, according to nearly a dozen recent studies reviewed by John Hopkins. The practice also may make your heart heathier by reducing inflammation associated with stress.

If you’re still on the fence, there’s plenty more evidence out there.

But if you are ready to change your life, please take a deep breath.

Now, stop…just for a moment. You need to understand something that’s very important—but not often talked about. Yoga is more than a bunch of stretching. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, a culture. Like other cultures, it tends to have its own language.

When you go to your first yoga class, the instructor will probably be throwing around some different words. Sanskrit, which is an ancient language of India, is used often to reference specific poses during class.

To make you feel more comfortable, like you belong—because you do—here is the most used yoga lingo (pronunciations included). Let’s start with the ones you’ve probably heard before and work our way to the tougher ones:

  1. Karma (kar-mah): We all hope to get what we want, but sometimes, we get what we deserve. Karma is the law of cause and effect. You know, what comes around, goes around. Western culture refers to this concept as the “Golden Rule.” In either case, keep it in mind becomes sometimes it’s good and sometimes…not so much.
  2. Chakra (chak-rah): Everyone has seven chakras, or energy centers, from the base of their spine to the crown of their head. It’s believed that each chakra creates a specific spiritual quality that is connected to an emotional state.
  3. Om (ohm): It’s more of a sound than a word. In fact, it is thought to be the origin of all sounds. The chant is typically heard at the beginning and end of yoga classes.
  4. Namaste (nah-mah-stay): This word is said at the beginning or end of yoga class. Say it with a bowed head with palms pressed together at the heart. It acknowledges the inner light within all of us.
  5. Dhamra (dar-mah): It’s considered the foundation of life. It’s believed that dharma helps people live a content life without suffering.
  6. Asana (a-sa-na): It literally means “seat” but has evolved into meaning a physical posture or poses. Yoga poses in Sanskrit end with asana.
  7. Pranayama (prah-nah-yah-mah): This is a breathing exercise, which clears the stress in your body to make way for “prana”—life’s energy.
  8. Savasana (shava-sa-na): Each class typically ends with this relaxation pose—“Corpse Pose”—when you lie of your back with arms and legs extended to the sides, kind of like a snow angel without the snow.
  9. Ujayi (u-jai-yee): This is a type of conscious breathing that relaxes you. Sometimes, it’s referred to as “ocean breath” for the sound you make as you inhale and exhale with a closed mouth.
  10. Bandha (bahn-da): It refers to a muscular move that tones and lifts certain areas of the body, including your pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles and throat muscles.
  11. Dristi (drish-ti): This word refers to your focal point when you gaze, which helps with concentration, especially during balancing poses.
  12. Mudra (mood-rah): It’s a movement that impacts the flow of your energy.
  13. Prana (prah-nuh): This word means life-force energy, which you will need to get through this class.
  14.  Shakti (shak-ti): It really refers to the feminine aspect of divine energy.
  15. Vinyasa (vuh-nysaa-suh): It means a combo move, a sequence of two or more asanas. The sun salutation, for example is the most popular vinyasa.

Now that you know the basic lingo, you are ready to improve your health, which is critically important to any born leader.

Why Kind Leaders Float to the Top

Integrity. Honesty. Vision. Humility. Focus. Those are some of the qualities you are likely to associate with a strong leader.

However, kindness probably isn’t one of the traits that comes to mind.

Historically, kindness in the business world has been regarded as a weakness. But that is no longer the case. In fact, scientific studies indicate that the most effective way to lead is to treat others with kindness. Organizations that value kindness actually experience considerable and measurable benefits such as less turnover, lower recruitment costs, higher productivity and happier employees.

However, being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you are a manger or head of a department or company. There are several ways you can lead in the workplace—by spearheading a project, running a meeting, presenting a new idea or managing a team. That’s why FEW offers a comprehensive program that positions members for professional development and a fulfilling career in the federal workforce.

Kindness has traditionally been one of the most overlooked leadership qualities. Kind leaders don’t force others to follow, rather their good intentions motivate others to follow their lead, creating a strong team. They exude warmth and compassion and recognize that without their team there is no real leadership. Strong leaders are very capable of making difficult business decisions but do so with compassion and sincerity.

Successful leaders share similar qualities. They have clarity and purpose and are determined to encourage others in service to support a cause or goal, influencing and empowering others through their actions and behaviors. They facilitate dialogue and make things happen. They are top-notch communicators who express their expectations and are accountable for their actions. Above all, they lead by example and do so with kindness and a positive attitude. Kind leaders guide others in a positive way, finding common ground and building cohesiveness among team members.

In the workplace, kindness is expressed through compassion, understanding, patience and generosity. In turn, being kind creates a ripple effect, inspiring employees to do more while also building their confidence and commitment to the organization’s mission.

There is strength in kindness and that is why kind leaders float to the top. Being a kind leader is the next innovation in people-led leadership. Kindness is now being recognized as essential to success. Kind leaders are strong leaders. They set clear expectations, promote growth, exude authenticity, provide honest feedback and, most importantly, treat people like people.

One of the most difficult tasks for a leader can often be building consensus. But if you are calm under pressure, optimistic and encouraging, you will keep morale high and float to the top. Afterall, one of the first steps to becoming a successful leader is showing empathy. Kindness sets the foundation for building a closer connection with your team members. That is why FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and leadership skills.

Today, being an efficient leader is more difficult than ever before. With job responsibilities increasing, many employees are self-managing outside the scope of their job descriptions. In addition, hiring and retention are becoming more complicated—team sizes are expanding, and employees are working remotely.

As a leader, you are often judged on whether or not you are getting the job done—but are you doing it with kindness? That is the new measure of success.

Different situations require distinct types of leadership, but kindness will always have a role. To join the exclusive club of kind leaders, set a positive example for others to follow. That’s where your integrity, honesty, vision, humility and focus come into play.

Afterall, we are all happier when we act in service to others. Being an effective leader means constant reflection, personal development, collecting and responding to feedback from the team and taking action.

Whatever your organizational role is, make your mark with kindness.

More than anything, treating others with kindness is the right thing to do. We take our cues from leaders, managers and colleagues and kindness begets kindness.

FEW helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance.

For more information, visit few.org.

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7 Things Kind Leaders Say

7 Things Kind Leaders Say

Hire good people, treat them with kindness and steer them to success. That is a simple formula for increasing productivity and sustaining engaged, productive employees.

Whether you are a director of a department or a leader of internal teams, the things you say, the way you respond and the actions you take will impact the way employees and colleagues react. It’s no surprise that positive interactions in the workplace create a pleasant and engaged staff, ultimately creating a more sustainable organization. Creating a caring and supportive company culture begins with kind leaders who treat others with empathy.

Kind leaders are trustworthy, exude positive energy and lead by listening. They care as much about their colleagues as they do about business and facilitating communication comes naturally to them.

Here are seven things kind leaders say:

#1. “You are doing an excellent job.”
Kind leaders are positive. They motivate employees with reassuring words and challenge them to do their best. One way you can instill purpose in your team is by commending them for a job well done, including tasks that are outside of their job scope or are “mundane.” Simple, everyday gestures of appreciation in the workplace bring teams together and boost morale. Everyone wants to feel like their work matters. If you are sincere and timely with your positive praise, you will boost productivity and loyalty. Your team will also be more eager to go above and beyond to support company-wide initiatives.

#2. “What’s your take on this?”
Strive to learn from your team, not just teach them. Using this phrase helps to boost your team’s confidence and helps you as a leader gain insight from their valuable feedback. Encourage others to work as part of the larger team to achieve organizational goals. When you ask for input or help strategizing, that shows that you value and appreciate your colleagues, empowering them to speak up and contribute their ideas.

#3. “How are you doing…really?”
People are often skeptical of those in power. In addition to asking colleagues questions that show you  care about their well-being, they also want to know you as a person, not just as a “boss.” Consider team-building activities outside of the office. FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level to spark fellowship among members. Opening up to colleagues and asking questions about their life outside of the office—hobbies, family or interests—will show that you are a “real” person who they can relate to. Taking an interest in your employees shows that you value them and are curious about what motivates them. The stronger your relationship is with them, the more they’ll trust you. Acknowledge your employees’ life outside of the office and encourage them to use their personal days to fully disconnect from work. Make it known that work/life balance is a priority. FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level to spark fellowship among members.

#4. “Where do you want to be in five years?”
Mentoring is a powerful tool. When employees see a clear future and feel supported in their professional endeavors, they are more likely to want to stay with a company for the long term. FEW works toward advancing people in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight, advocating for the advancement of its employees as future leaders of the organization. Ask your colleagues what their goals are and mentor them toward their personal and professional aspirations. Acting as your team’s biggest supporter is an essential part of being a strong leader. This will result in improvements to the organizational structure. It’s no surprise that mentored employees feel more connected to their place of work. That’s why FEW offers mentoring opportunities throughout the year to advance professional development and leadership skills. FEW offers various member benefits ranging from a job bank, legal consultations, a newsletter and discounts on training.

#5. “Mistakes happen.”
As much as you want day-to-day operations and projects to run smoothly, mistakes are bound to happen. Whether it’s a minor miscommunication or a major mistake, handle them with kindness and don’t let your emotions overtake the situation. Instead, think about how you will address the mistake and what you want the outcome to be. That will foster open lines of communication. You may consider using the error as an opportunity to help train or coach your employee. The way you handle a mistake is ultimately a measure of your leadership ability. Remember, no one makes a mistake on purpose. Your colleagues have good intentions and likely feel terrible about messing up.

#6. “How can I help you?”
This question produces a sense of security for your team members, helping them realize that you care and are willing to step in to help them solve problems. Make the office a place where employees want to be. When you listen to what your employees need and offer solutions, they’ll feel encouraged and supported.

#7. “Let’s celebrate!”
Provide praise and recognition often. Whether it’s a big win or something small, it is important to recognize colleagues for hard work and successes, congratulating them for professional and personal achievements. The happier your employees are, the more successful your organization will be.

Being kind isn’t difficult. Remember, a smile and cheerful tone go a long way. Smiling says you care and are approachable. It is an easy way to improve loyalty and retention in the workplace, boosting connection to long term organizational goals.

In fact, a new gauge of successful teams is how connected and energized employees feel by their work. By treating one another kindly, the workplace will be a place employees look forward to returning to—day after day. Commit to positivity and communicate authentically to build high functioning teams.

But most importantly, remember to lead with both your head and your heart.

FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers and increase diversity by examining the demographics of the workforce, including socioeconomic status, communication, leadership and thinking styles and family composition.

For more information, visit few.org.

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Why Kind Leaders Float to the Top

National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is a campaign held each January since 2002 to promote youth mentoring in the United States.

Youth who have a mentor are more likely to:

  • Attend and engage in school
  • Complete their education, including college
  • Have more positive relationships and attitudes

Mentoring among adults in business can also be a highly positive, mutually beneficial experience. With the goals of personal and professional development, an experienced individual will share knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person. The relationship should be based on mutual respect and trust. It can offer benefits, personally and professionally, for both the mentor and the mentee.

Benefits to the mentee are expected, and some that are reported include:

  • Provides impartial advice and encouragement
  • Develops a supportive relationship
  • Assists with problem solving
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Offers professional development
  • Encourages reflection on practice
  • Learn from the experience of others
  • Become more empowered to make decisions
  • Identify goals and establish a sense of direction
  • Career advancement

There are many benefits to the mentor as well:

  • Opportunity to reflect on own practice
  • Enhances job satisfaction
  • Develops professional relationships
  • Enhances peer recognition
  • It uses your experience, making it available to a new person
  • It widens your understanding of the organization and the way it works
  • It enables you to practice interpersonal skills
  • It provides personal satisfaction through supporting the development of others
  • Builds leadership skills
  • Improves communication skills
  • Advance your own career
  • Learn new perspectives

In short, mentoring can be a positive and productive experience for all involved. Whether you feel a need for guidance or feel you have experience to lend, consider a mentoring relationship to help you develop both personally and professionally.

Science Update: 5 Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19

FEW believes the U.S. government should be a model employer and progress will allow members to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security. FEW supports paid leave for federal employees so you can care for your family. Most agencies have also adopted internal policies for employee COVID-19 leave. Please check with your agency’s human resources department for their COVID-19 leave policy. Several U.S. government websites also provide updates about frequently asked questions pertaining to COVID-19.

Schools have gone virtual. Events are cancelled. Businesses have enacted work from home policies and travel bans are in place.

Every aspect of your life, including your daily routine has been significantly altered. It’s completely normal to feel unsettled or anxious.

How can you cope with the disruption and find a “zen” mindset while keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure by steering clear of the 3Cs—spaces that are closed, crowded or involve close contact. Every day preventative actions, such as social distancing and wearing a mask also help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Here’s five tips to cope with the stress and protect yourself from COVID-19:

Tip #1: Wear a mask the right way

Although masks keep people who are infected from spreading respiratory droplets when they cough, sneeze or talk, they are not a substitute for social distancing. Always wear a mask in public and when around people who don’t live in your household. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that in addition to protecting others from the coronavirus, wearing a mask also offers protection to you from breathing in the virus. The CDC is currently studying the effectiveness of various cloth mask materials.

For maximum protection, be sure you are wearing your mask the right way—put it over your nose and mouth and secure it against the sides of your face. It should fit snuggly. Try not to touch your mask while wearing it, but if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When removing your mask, handle only the ear loops or ties. Of course, be sure to wash and completely dry your cloth mask each time you wear it.

Tip #2: Maintain an exercise routine
Not only is exercise essential for your well-being during the pandemic but getting your heart pumping for 150 minutes a week can also reduce stress, prevent weight gain, boost your immune system and improve sleep. Afterall, physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. Exercise helps regulate your immune system, which may also reduce severe symptoms of COVID-19. In fact, several studies have linked moderate exercise with decreased rates of influenza and pneumonia, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Tip #3: Take care of your mental health
During these uncertain times, your mental state can impact every aspect of your life, exacerbating an already challenging situation. That’s why it is important to identify ways you can look after your mental health. Follow trusted news sources, exercise, meditate, take on a new hobby and maintain a daily routine. If you are missing social interaction, consider new, “virtual” possibilities—join a yoga class, take a cooking lesson, find a book club or socialize with FEW. However, if you need additional support during this challenging time, make an appointment to speak with a medical professional.

Tip #4: Run errands safely
When heading to the grocery store or running essential errands, disinfect the handles of your cart or basket before shopping. If possible, do your errands during off hours—early in the day or later in the evening. While shopping, maintain a safe distance from others, preferably six feet apart and only touch items you plan to purchase. Of course, wear your mask, pay using a touchless method that doesn’t require a card, money or touching a keypad. Be sure to sanitize your hands when you are finished shopping. Once you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then wash them again after putting away your items. When possible, take advantage of online ordering or curbside pickup.

Tip #5: Stay safe at home
Although COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces, there are several ways to keep your home free from germs. Clean high-touch surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, countertops, phone screens and bathroom surfaces) daily by cleaning the surfaces with soap and water and then using an EPA-registered household disinfectant. A recent study found that the coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and live on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Although you are likely taking every precaution to stay safe at home and in public, it is a good idea to plan ahead in case someone in your household becomes infected. If possible, the sick person should be isolated to a separate room and bathroom.

For more information, visit few.org.

Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month

Federally Employed Women proudly recognizes Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month. The 2020 National theme is Sovereignty is Sacred:  Sharing Our Rights & Cultures. 

One of earliest recorded attempts to create a day of recognition for the contributions of “First Americans” dates back to 1912, when Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca Nation), who founded several Indian rights organizations, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize “First Americans” Day, which they did for three years.   The first American Indian Day was celebrated in New York, May 1916. The effort was led by a member of the Blackfeet Nation, Red Fox James, who rode across the nation on horseback seeking approval from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November “National American Indian Heritage Month.” 

Special observances such as Native American Alaska Native Heritage Month were designed for the purpose of providing cultural awareness to everyone. The month of November has been designated to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and to acknowledge the important contributions of America’s indigenous people.  Commemorative activities conducted for special observance months should be educational and inclusive.  As the National theme suggests, autonomy is extremely important to Native Americans, but it is also very important for us to help them preserve traditions and share their history and culture. Connection to history is essential because it establishes a sense of identity and belonging.  There is so much that we can learn from Native American’s deep respect for the earth and harmony with nature, the cycle of all living things, and the love and respect for family and community.

There are many resources available to find programs and activities.  The Society of American Indian Government Employees is a constant resource throughout the year.  During the month of November, Saige will be hosting several virtual programs and commemorative events.  Please visit www.saige.org and share the events with your chapter/region members.

Also during the month, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. 

Please check out https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/ for a calendar of events


About the Artist: Timothy Tate NEVAQUAYA

Timothy Tate Nevaquaya is a Comanche and Chickasaw/Choctaw artist, veteran, and minister from Apache, Oklahoma. The son of the late Comanche master artist and flutist, Doc Tate Nevaquaya and his wife Charlotte Foraker-Nevaquaya, Timothy’s art career began at the foot of his father’s drafting table, as a child. His early education included receiving direction from his father in the basic fundamentals of Native American art
forms, as well as flute making. These early experiences began his dance with Native American art, Native American flute, and Native American history and culture with a strong emphasis on Comanche history. As a youth, he was witness to some of the greatest Southern Plains and other Native American artists from his father’s contemporary circle of friends and colleagues. He has been a part of the reemergence of the Native American flute culture. As a young man, he participated in many of his father’s lectures and demonstrations on the flute. At age 12, he began to compose music on his father’s flutes; at age 14 he began making the flutes.

Early in his career, he immersed himself in the history of the Comanche people through independent studies. He began painting in the flat two-dimensional style reminiscent of the Southern Plains artists before him. As time went along he transitioned into a western American realism style. After many years of hard work and devotion to his art, it was in 2007, that he found his signature style, which can be characterized as, “an accident
on the canvas.” This happy mistake is where the door opened up and led to a great revelation in his artwork and in thought, and which changed the course of his life and his work. After working tirelessly on an Apache Mountain spirit piece at his home studio one night, he smudged the paints on his canvas, which created, “a happy accident.” “I remember smacking the canvas with my paintbrush and it was loaded with paint. I became incredibly frustrated, but through this mistake is when that great door opened up. I saw a different and abstract appearance in my work.” So began the journey with Nevaquaya’s latest style, which is his personal expression of movement and form in contemporary Native American art.

Nevaquaya has performed and shown his work in places such as the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, The Gilcrease Museum of Western Art, The Philbrook Museum, the Oklahoma Governor’s Ball, the Oklahoma State Capitol, The University of Oklahoma, The Great Plains Museum, the Southern Plains Museum, the Comanche Museum other places. He owns and operates Nevaquaya Fine Arts: A Legacy Gallery in Tulsa, OK and makes his home in Apache, Eagletown, and Tulsa Oklahoma
with his sons.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

2020 marks the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The theme for this year is ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity”.

NDEAM is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment. The purpose of National Disability month is to celebrate America’s workers with disabilities and to remind employers of the importance of inclusive hiring. Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy has said, “People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt. Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”

Here are some ideas for federal agencies who wish to participate in NDEAM:

  • Join Feed – Federal Exchange on Employment & Disability. This is an interagency working group which focuses on information sharing, best practices, and collaborative partnerships to help make the federal government a positive employer of people with disabilities.
  • Access the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) – this program connects federal and private sector employees to qualified students and recent graduates with disabilities.
  • Provide federal-specific training – Agencies can use this month to provide training to all employees and refresher training to disability program managers, hiring managers, supervisors, EEO representatives and selective placement coordinators.
  • Start a mentoring program – Federal agencies can participate in Disability Mentoring Day (see References below) on the third Wednesday of October.
  • Feature NDEAM in social media activities – using the hashtag #NDEAM

Resources:

Disability Mentoring Day

What Can You Do?

Ideas for Federal Agencies