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Functional Mentoring for Practical Success

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Functional Mentoring for Practical Success

Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Library Operations & Management | 2023 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

To further invest in our employees and improve upon the overall success and diversity of our organization, we developed a functional mentoring program to enable staff to learn successful strategies to positively impact their work experience and collaborate with colleagues for enriched and inclusive opportunities and experiences.


In lieu of the pandemic and the overall national employee shortage, we found ourselves in need of staff in supervisory roles. We looked to our already great pool of talent and created a program to mentor and develop them in practical ways that increased and diversified our hiring options and provided more equity and opportunities for staff in librarian positions.

Key Elements of Innovation

To develop practical leadership skills we focused on communication, relationship building, decision making, and project management in monthly interactive sessions, along with readings, videos, and engaging assignments. Participants were encouraged to actively contribute, ask questions, and share experiences. At a kickoff event, staff gave elevator speeches about the unique assets they bring to the organization, and we concluded with mock interviews and feedback which all found very beneficial.

Achieved Outcomes

To guage the program’s success, we surveyed staff at its conclusion and overall, comments affirmed it was an effective initiative that benefitted those seeking leadership skills. 94% of participants responded they would recommend it to others, and many said it helped develop successful interview strategies that reinforce our organizational values of literacy and access to information for all. Two staff were promoted after the program, others made significant career changes, and all had an enriching experience.