Apollo Mentor Handbook
The USS Apollo Mentoring Program
Volunteering to be a part of the mentorship program is a big step. Not only does it put you on the front lines when it comes to our new members, but it also allows you to help shape the future leaders of the Fleet. As such, this is a big step towards your own leadership potential, and it is a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
Our mentoring program is intense, with the goal being to retain all new ensigns that come aboard. As such, it is important to follow the steps involved in mentoring a new ensign so that they get the most out of the program. This handbook exists to help you understand the steps involved, as well as some of the more common issues that may arise throughout your time mentoring a new member.
Keep in mind that each officer is different; some will come to the ship and need very little direction, while others may need some intensive one on one help. Whatever the case is with the ensign you are mentoring, remember that you are not alone! The First Officer and Captain are available to help and answer questions that either of you might have along the way.
Being Chosen as a Mentor
Mentors are coordinated through, and allocated by, the Command Staff of the USS Apollo. As states previously, the ship has a set group of officers who volunteer to help new members of the crew. If you think that this is a job that you might like to do, review the following requirements and send a message to Fleet Captain Andrus Jaxx to apply.
Receiving Your Mentee
When a new Ensign arrives on the ship, they will receive a few specific emails. The first is a welcome from the Commanding Officer, and the second is the welcome from the First Officer. Once the welcomes are out of the way, the Commanding Officer will assign a mentor and hand off the Ensign to their specific mentor to ensure that both the mentor as well as the new member know what is going on. An example of such an email from the CO or XO is listed below. Remember, don't send this email out! It has already been sent to the Ensign by the Commanding/Executive Officer!
Your Own Introduction
Once the email from the Commanding Officer has been sent out, it is your turn to introduce yourself to your new mentee. There is no right or wrong way to do this, as long as you keep in mind that new Ensigns can be easily overwhelmed and confused. As such, you should strive to provide a base for them to build their knowledge both IC and OOC.
Chances are they are very excited about getting started, but may not know just where to actually begin. By reiterating what has already been stated by the Commanding Officer and First Officer, and then offering to help get their characters involved by leaving them some tags, you can show them where to go to get information (the Wiki), and that we want them to be integrated and involved in the current plot. Below is an example introduction email that you can adapt to use as your own mentor introduction email.
Getting Them Involved
The first few days of a new member's tour of duty are some of the most confusing. Everyone aboard the ship is already simming normally, and they might shy away from jumping in. At this point it is vital for the mentor's to take the lead as there are multiple issues that can come up that could derail a new member from getting integrated into the crew.
If your mentee has simmed, great! They are well on their way to being a productive and happy member of the fleet. If, within 48 hours, however, they have not simmed themselves aboard, they may be lost. When this occurs, it is important for the Mentor to do two things; first, contact the new member and ask them if they have any questions, and second, post a sim that includes tags for their character.
Perhaps more than any other point in time, this is the most critical for retention of new members. Often, this is when members get lost and fall between the cracks. Without the help and vigilance of a mentor and command staff, it is possible that no one would notice the new Ensign not simming. It is for this reason that your job is so important within the workings of the Apollo.
Feedback is another vital part of the mentoring process. Mentors will provide feedback to new members about both the things that they are doing right as well as the things that they might need to improve on. Use examples or bits from other people's sims to show how things should be done correctly, but be sure not to overload the new member with lots of things that need to be fixed. Concentrate on one or two big things, then work your way to the smaller issues that might be occurring.
Mentors are required to provide at least three feedback emails. The first should be sent just after the new Ensign sims for the first time. The second email should go out after their second sim, and the third email should be sent after the Ensign has been aboard for one month. While some new members will not require intensive feedback, it is important to send an email anyway if only to reiterate that questions and comments are always welcome.
Ensigns that have larger issues that need worked out will require more feedback emails. Three is the minimum, but if there is a specific problem, mentors are asked to send feedback emails after each sim until the problems are resolved. Remember, provide examples so that the new member can really see what is going on and how they need to adapt to fit into the Starbase 118 style.
Promotions are very important to knew officers and mentors should help their mentees by setting some goals with them. Be sure to link your mentee the Apollo Promotion Guide so that they are aware of what they need to work on to make it to the next level. While they will only need your feedback for a short time, there is a sense of pride when you are able to watch an officer you have been mentoring, grow to higher ranks.
Beyond the three required feedback emails, all mentors are required to send at least two emails per month for the first three months to the new Ensign to make sure they understand the style and to ensure that they are having no problems with anything IC or OOC. This is when mentors will catch little issues, such as difficulty writing into situations, difficulty keeping up, and OOC questions that new Ensigns may still be afraid to ask. By maintaining this contact with these ensure that all new members are fully integrated into the crew and have a firm handle on simming with our group, putting them well on their way to 'senior officerhood'.
When this time period is over, or mentors will be asked to vouch for the new member, stating that they are ready to be promoted to the next level. If issues prevent this, the ensign will be referred to the First Officer for further help and direction.
The end goal, for all new members, is to give them a 'friend' and point of contact on their home ship where they can feel comfortable asking questions and taking their first steps towards becoming a future leader within the fleet.
Some new ensigns have no problems getting into the plot and simming regularly. If this is the case with your mentee, then you only need to send these 'checking in' emails to make sure that everything is still okay. If you have an Ensign who is still having trouble, use these emails to offer feedback and help, and don't limit yourself to two emails a month! Mentors are expected to keep sending feedback emails until the issues and kinks are all worked out.
Problems and Issues
Occasionally, there are problems with new Ensigns that mentors simply cannot solve on their own. No person aboard, new Ensign or not, should ever be abusive to any other member aboard. This includes, but is not limited to OOC emails, IC actions and speech (unless cleared by all members involved), threats of any kind, or verbal (via email or IM) abuse. If mentors should encounter a problem with an Ensign, it is vital to let the Commanding Officer and the First Officer know right away. Be sure to save any conversation snippets, such as IM logs or emails, and forward them to the command staff so that things can be taken care of appropriately. Don't ever retaliate or try to 'teach them a lesson'. Stay calm and professional, then get help.
Sometimes, no matter how hard a mentor might try or how many times they contact a new member, that member may not respond either by OOC contact or IC adjustments after feedback is given. If an Ensign is not responding, please do not hesitate to contact the command staff for further direction. Just like mentors are there to help their Ensigns, the command staff is there to back the mentors up and help them when they need it. Likewise, if there are questions that mentors are unable to answer, the command staff is always available to help!
On the flip side, some mentees have issues or problems with their mentors. While mentors are screened prior to their allowance into the mentoring program, sometimes personalities just don't mesh. All new Ensigns are encouraged to contact the command staff if such an event arises, as are the mentors who might feel that the match is not something that is really sustainable. Remember, we would rather retain the new Ensign and find them a different mentor than allowing a harmful and counterproductive relationship to go on.