What is mentoring?
Mentoring is a technique or process in which an experienced practitioner (mentor) guides people (mentees) to achieve their goal and personal objectives through time - limited. A mentor is not necessarily to be a person who teaches, trains or coaches, it also supports, encourages their mentees and is open to ask and listen to. It is about helping each other to expand and grow so that everyone learns.
Also, an effective mentoring provides opportunities to share talents, skills, experiences and expertise afforded through regular training and on-going coaching and feedback, not only for mentees but also for mentors.
The mentors don't have direct responsibility for the mentees’ work performance. They´ only give advice and they motivate to enhance the mentees’ professional development.
Types of mentoring
According to The university of Auckland suggests two types of mentoring relationships:
Informal mentoring, when somebody with more experience than others helps spontaneously and without explicitly asking for mentoring. Partnerships are initiated between individuals.
Formal mentoring, there is an official ask for or offer of mentoring relationships. Mentors and mentees follow a structured mentoring program, make agreements about its nature and establish goals between them.
Skills and experience required to be a mentor
According to Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), it exists at least ten requirements to be a mentor:
Self awareness: it is related to having your own personal goals, career, and knowing your own strengths.
Organisational know-how: it means an individual knowledge that mentors have, it provides an advantage over others in the same field, it is about to know how things work.
Credibility in Determining Goals and Building Capacity: It is important for mentors to have personal and professional credibility in their area and being a member of relevant organizations
Accessibility: successful mentors should be able to commit sufficient time to their mentees. Further, mentors should talk regularly to establish a level of comfort in the relationship around the easy topics, then when a challenge or a concern arises, it is much easier for both to have a useful discussion
Communication skills or listening actively, (taking into consideration interests, body language, attention, and giving advice) help to ascertain their mentees motivation and needs.
Ability to empower: mentors have the ability to create a working environment where mentees feel secure to contribute in different ways.
A desire to help others develop: mentors should understand how mentees learn and acquire experience from mentoring, either formally or informally way.
Inventiveness: mentors should be open minds of doing new and different things in mentoring, in order to help mentees gain broader perspectives of their experiences.
Empathy: the ability to sense mentees emotions, or what might be thinking or feeling
Understanding: mentors can observe their mentees how they learn and provide them constructive feedback.
Some other extra skills are:
Encouraging and inspiring: mentors have the ability to comment on mentees accomplishments. They believe in the mentees capacity to grow personally and professionally. In addition, they respond to their frustrations and challenges. It is important that mentors share their personal vision or those of other leaders, such as their experiences, mistakes and successes in achieving their goals The Center for Health Leadership & Practice (CHLP).
The mentoring process / stages
The process of mentoring is an activity that has a beginning and ending, MMU lists three stages:
- Initial;(building the relationship): explain goals of this mentoring. Time to involve (schedule for communication). Discuss backgrounds, experiences, interests and expectations. Establish the rules (format of the meeting).
- Mentor sessions; planning mentoring sessions (review experiences, when and how long, goals, progress advance). Mentors should tell about themselves, their skills, their organization, experience, and challenges they are facing. Besides, they can exchange information and help their mentees to set and refocus their goals periodically. Finally, they must work towards the goals (long and challenging part of the mentoring process), through discussing, sharing material, trying other learning materials, and development activities. Mentors create opportunities for mentees to gain experience, introduce them to other colleagues. Evaluate the progress of this relationship mentor-mentees (adjustments, results, benefits).
- Moving on; identify when the relationship mentors-mentees will end such as when objectives conclude, challenges, and progress towards goals. Help mentees to identify next steps, self-reflection. Explore other types of support for their needs. Also, there are other reasons for ending the mentoring relationship, for example, the program is coming to a close or the relationship isn’t working successfully and both parties wish to move on.
Setting goals and expectations
According to Harvard University suggests that both mentors and mentees establish their objectives, expectations and actively collaborate to have effective mentoring. Here there some steps to consider:
- Commitment between mentees and mentors before to start a mentoring relationship because it requires time and effort from both.
- Self-knowledge, mentees start by determining specific objectives and what is the most relevant and appropriate for them in the mentoring relationship. Once they clarify their goals, now they can consider how this relationship might bring to achieve their goals.
- Matching: Mentees are ready to consider potential mentors to support them, based on their expectations regarding the qualities and attributes of mentors.
- Establishing the mentoring relationship. Mentors and mentees should define guidelines and agreements early in mentoring.
- Planning will keep the mentoring partnership on track and focused on main objectives. Mentors and Mentees should work together to develop action steps for each objective, and how to make it effective. A successful mentoring depends on relationship investment of energy and the commitment to the experience.
- The end of a mentoring is as much a part of the process as the preceding steps. It is important to understand that it does not mean the end of the relationship. In this process, it can be an excellent opportunity to have a similar discussion about the experience as a whole or celebrate accomplishments. Moreover, former Mentees and Mentors are excellent resources to include on the network. As with any network connection, mentees need to make a point of staying in touch and participate in communities.
Mentoring and ethics
The mentors need to continuously examine and reflect on their ethical values and how they may influence decisions in their mentoring practice. In the following, there are some professional characteristics that contribute to having effective mentoring: 1. The mentors and mentees need to be well aware of their institution’s code of conduct for mentoring. At the same time, they should read professional codes of ethics to have a healthy mentoring relationship and accept that before mentoring starts. 1. The mentors need to continuously explore and reflect on their own ethical values and how they may influence decisions in their mentoring practice. 1. The development of normative guidelines, between mentors and mentees are a powerful tool for reflecting together on values and boundaries, and to promote ethical thinking. 1. In most professions, a set of values determine the ethical professional conduct and become a part of the professional identity. 1. The mentors need to take responsibility for the power they hold and never use it abusively over others more vulnerable. It should be an open and clear reporting structure for any misuse of power. 1. The mentees can identify with mentors who have values, attitudes, and experiences that the mentees holds or aspires to have.
In addition, The Actuaries w Without Borders describes some personal characteristics in mentoring:
- Mentors; ask open and supportive questions and provide constructive feedback.
- Mentors; maintain a friendly tone and be positive.
- Mentors; encourage developmente opportunities for mentees.
- Mentors; help mentees solve their own problem, rather than how to do it.
- Mentors; give positive reinforcement.
- Mentors; have to be accessible for helping mentees.
- Mentees; be prepared.
- Mentees; take responsability for mistakes.
- Mentees; thank your mentor.
- Mentors and mentees; Value the mentoring partner as a person
- Mentors and mentees; Developing mutual trust and respect.
- Mentors and mentees;Listen actively both to what is being said and how it is being said.
Mentoring Best Practices
Mentoring involves the relationship between mentors and mentees. Good mentors are enthusiastic people, enjoying the role they play in helping others achieve their goals (CHLP). There are some different roles that Mentors may be required to take:
- Networking; mentors help mentees to find people and resources that go beyond their experience.
- Counselling; mentors encourage, inspire and challenge mentees to achieve their goals. Also, They act as a confidant, helping mentees to clarify real issues and seeing the general view.
- Facilitating; mentors share your experiences, advice, emphasizing how your experience could be different from their experiences.
- Coaching; mentors build their mentees confidence through supportive feedback.
- Enjoying the process of mentoring; mentors should be spontaneous just to send an encouraging word or piece of new information.
- Avoid controlling the mentoring relationship.
OpenScienceLabs Mentoring workflow
Mentoring Code of Conduct (MCOC)
As an organization we joined the . However, we have decided to complement it with a section dedicated to the mentoring process. For more information on our Mentoring Code of Conduct, please review that section in our Code of Conduct.