Let's Talk About Mentoring
Developing mentoring relationship(s) takes trust and communication. Mentor and mentee must commit time to know each other in a respectful manner. But, before you can invite someone to trust you, you must reflect on your own experiences as a mentor and how they shaped you personally and professionally. You must also contemplate what expectations you have of your mentee and yourself (and why), what it means to trust, and how you communicate with others.
It is quite possible that you have not considered these things in a long time. What better time to revisit your own journey to mentoring than before beginning a mentoring relationship with a new mentee/mentor?
A strong mentoring relationship is one that prepares the mentee to research, publish, collaborate, and mentor others. It also helps the mentee to better understand themselves, their research, and their roles(s) within the academy and outside of it. Such a relationship also deepens the mentor’s communication skills and ability to expand your community of scholars. Ultimately, such a relationship helps both mentor and mentee grow in unexpected ways.
Elements and Stages of Mentoring Relationships
Elements of a Mentoring Relationship
(adapted from The Mentor's Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships by Lois J. Zachary)
- What will you and your mentor give-receive?
- What will you or have you learned, what do you want to learn from/with your mentor?
- What type of relationship would you like to have with your mentor, and what expectations do you have about this relationship? What does it mean to be in relationship with someone?
- How will mentor share responsibility and investment with you to develop and maintain the relationship?
- How do you and your mentor share knowledge that will help you move forward in your professional and personal goals?
- Mutually Defined Goals
- How will you and your mentor agree upon clearly defined goals and outcomes?
- How will you and your mentor determine your progress and development on your goals?
- How do your cultural, historical, social, socio-economic, and/or other contexts shape your expectations of your mentor, mentoring, and your academic experiences?
- How will your mentor learn about these?
Stages of Developing a Mentoring Relationship
At what stage is your mentoring relationship? Knowing this will help you collaborate with your mentor to co-create what you need. Stages can be defined in many ways. We like to suggest the following.
- Reflection: What questions can you ask yourself and your mentor to decide if this is the right relationship for you?
- Initiation: How will you and your mentor learn about each other?
- Cultivation: How will you and your mentor grow and maintain your relationship?
- Separation: How will you and your mentor know when it is time to move on and how do you do this amicably?
- Redefinition: How do you and your mentor continue your relationship as you move from mentee to colleague and, even, to mentor?