The increasing number of people in the workforce approaching retirement is an alarming trend that will result in a severe loss of managerial experience and industry knowledge. Reviewing the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) statistics from 2010 through 2013, the retirement number for the total of employees whose retirement was processed from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) jumped from 76,864 to 138,039. That’s a 55% jump in just three years. According to a report regarding employer response strategies, approximately one-fifth of the nation’s workforce is already over age 55 and it is projected to increase significantly over the next 15 years. The report advised mentoring as one solution to stop the flood of expertise and knowledge leaving both public and private employers.

Mentoring Programs Facilitate Knowledge Transfer

A mentoring program includes a library of resources for employees to share knowledge, skills, and abilities and provides participants with information. It also includes tools and best practices to address common challenges such as team building, oral communications, problem solving, coaching skills, conflict management, and constructive feedback.
Some Government agencies are becoming increasingly concerned by the number of retiring senior management and the loss of experience those numbers entail, and are resolved to capture this knowledge by implementing mentoring programs.

At Coley & Associates, Inc., our cloud-based solutions powered by Chronus™ are currently providing the Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology (VA OI&T) with a customized solution. The platform facilitates mentoring by using upper management and area specialists’ time effectively, and provides valuable mentoring opportunities to entry-level managers. Access to a central location that stores and manages the organization’s best practices and upper management’s soft skills allows for a rapid transfer of employee knowledge and expertise. By analyzing progress and measuring against objectives, Coley & Associates, Inc. is able to create quick manageable tasks and meeting schedules for the parties involved, keeping the VA OI&T mentoring goals on track. The VA OI&T receives a progress report throughout the mentoring relationship to adjust goals and tasks as needed.

Checklist of Manager Tips

As mentoring participants work through their goals and tasks, the mentors will communicate effective management practices to the mentees. Here’s a checklist of tips on what behaviors and practices are being communicated between more tenured managers and newer managers:

Team Building

One-on-one time with individuals on the team can not only be at the desk but away from the work area as well, such as a quick coffee break. Be consistent with the whole team despite personal preferences. Encouraging teamwork will support the early efforts of a new manager and place focus on the shared goals for the organization.

Communicating Clear Expectations

One mistake novice manager’s often make that results in less productivity is not communicating clear expectations when taking charge of their new duties. Talking to each individual team member from the onset and on a regular basis is encouraged. Asking and explaining expectations will result in a verbal contract or some mutual understanding which will enable forward progression of the team and organizational goals.

Problem Solving

Leave time for planning. Failing to delegate leaves little time for strategic planning, organizing or thinking. Rather than focusing on tasks one at a time, thoughtful planning, coordination, and organization are now the tasks at hand. Assessing personnel and skill sets will help with who does what task and how quickly. Regular progress checks with the team are required for more than just an ETA. It’s the manager’s job to make sure their employees can get their jobs done. An efficient manager offers the materials, information, and tools needed to succeed.


Develop awareness of all available training resources. Most companies will have databases full of research, and programs for developing presentation slides and templates. There are also many online tutorials. By identifying more experienced employees, this will provide an opportunity for some quick tutoring. Receiving coaching and mentoring from one’s own boss should be expected. Formal and informal mentoring and coaching should be encouraged for the team as well. One important task for mentoring and coaching include how to best to create a development plan. Based on experience, a development plan pinpoints what areas need development and focuses the mentee in achieving their goals faster.

Conflict Management

Work closely with Human Resources. Knowing the organization’s policies and procedures discourages employees from taking liberties with new managers. Plus, HR is a great resource for guidance on talking with employees, understanding policies and procedures, and dealing with problems – not just the team’s problems but the manager’s as well.

Constructive Feedback

In order to keep feedback constructive, focus on the work, not personalities. Instead of saying, “You missed your deadline,” it is better to say “This task is taking longer than expected. Where did we fall behind, and what are some ideas for getting us back on track?” This focuses on behavior and outcome rather than sounding like an accusation. Of course, learning how to receive feedback is important for new managers as well.

Achieving managerial success takes time to develop which is why it is important to start immediately, making sure that your organization or company is not letting its hard-earned knowledge walk out the door with their retiring workforce. With mentoring, plus embracing the above steps, it will quickly have managers performing confidently and competently in achieving the organization or company’s shared goals.