Components of Being an Effective Mentor
- Wanting the mentee to succeed and facilitating the mentee’s success
- Promoting the mentee’s career, independent of your own
- Providing a broad spectrum of advice – including career and technical
- Bolstering the mentee’s capacity
- Encouraging risk and self‐exploration
- Focusing the relationship on the mentee – in a way that is beneficial to the mentee and in his best interest
- Making contacts available, facilitating introductions within your professional network, and connecting to resources
- Facilitating the evolution of a positive relationship
- Engaging in a personal context
- Being friendly, not necessarily being friends
Different types of mentors
- There are two basic types of mentors: technical mentors and developmental mentors. In academic medicine one person often serves in both roles, and in that case needs to be aware of the varying responsibilities:Conflicts in roles (supervisor – advisor – mentor) are inherent, but awareness of potential conflicts helps minimize them
- A technical mentor is an expert in a particular area or skill that the mentee wants/needs to acquire. This type of mentor focuses primarily on helping the mentee succeed in that area or acquire that skill. People who are going to mentor others technically have to have the skill set necessary to help their mentees develop the desired skill.
- A developmental mentor may not be an expert in a particular area or skill that the mentee wants/needs to acquire. Rather, this type of mentor focuses primarily on helping the mentee think through the issues of developing his professional identity and career.
- Is the mentoring relationship defined by expertise or by hierarchy? A supervisor is generally a (technical) mentor, but a mentor need not be a supervisor.
- Boundaries are important between mentoring, being friends, and directing (supervising).
- Can/should a mentor be a friend?
- A mentee should have multiple mentors within a network who can help with different issues.
- Technical and developmental mentoring may require different mentors and multiple relationships.
- Multiple mentors can lead to conflicting advice and the possibility of a mentee playing one mentor off against another. In such cases, it is helpful for the mentors to talk to each other.
Can a boss also be a supervisee’s developmental mentor?
- The boss is ultimately responsible for the outcome of the mentee’s work and directly responsible for the service and academic “productivity” of her unit/lab. Can the boss, who can require her supervisees to meet certain productivity standards, also be the developmental mentor for one of her supervisees and give first priority to her mentee’s career or acquisition of a particular skill? Or is there inherent conflict in having the same person assuming both of these roles?
- A distinction must be made between the boss (who can require a person to do things) and a mentor(who facilitates a person’s development and/or acquisition of a skill set).Some people see mentoring as an intrusion into their autonomy and therefore fend it off. People who most need a mentor are often those who don’t want to use one.
- If the same person is going to try to be both the boss and a mentor, it should be clear to both the mentor and mentee what “hat” this person is wearing at all times. This is difficult to do—but possible— as long as everyone is aware of the potential conflicts.
- A person cannot be forced or required to use a mentor if he is already productive in his job.
How do you know when someone is your mentor or mentee?
- Some people do not know that others consider them their mentors.
- Some mentors are unsure when a person is a mentee and what they have agreed to.
- For these reasons, some formal structure should be given to every mentoring relationship.