Mentoring Doesn’t Need To Be A Trial And Error Practice

Some mentors have the “it” factor. They know how to support and encourage their mentees and lead them to remarkable careers. But where do they learn these skills? Too often it’s just trial and error. There are many active and passive actions that you may take that Dr. In their famous JAMA article, Vineet Chopra and Sanjay Saint called “Mentoring Misconduct.” To avoid ending up on the wrong side of this equation, I asked the world’s top mentoring experts for their tips on becoming a great mentor—the kind that leaves a legacy.

Angela Byars-Winston, PhD

Professor, UW-Madison Department of Medicine

Chair, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Math (NASEM) Consensus Report: The Science of Effective Mentorship

Individuals are cultural beings. Mentees who are aspiring and young professionals often wish to discuss how cultural diversity factors haunt their careers, particularly given the resurgence of national attention to issues of race, ethnicity and gender identity. Mentors who engage in culturally responsive mentoring are likely to create mutually satisfying mentoring relationships and increase mentees’ confidence and commitment to their academic and professional pursuits. Equally important, culturally-responsive mentoring can contribute to the mentee’s sense of belonging in their chosen field. Mentors, prepare and make a plan to engage with your mentors on relevant cultural diversity issues.

Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc

Robert W. Schrier Chair of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Author, The Mentoring Guide: Helping Mentors and Mentees to Succeed

Try to understand when your mentees come to you with problems. Your job is to listen, empathize, and give your mentee the best advice, regardless of how you’re feeling personally. Remember, this is about them – not you.

Lisa Fain, JD

CEO, Center for Mentoring Excellence

Author, Bridging differences for better mentoring

national ambassador, International Mentoring Association

Mentors, your job is not to solve problems for your mentees. Instead, help your mentees find the solutions for themselves by asking great questions. Try to understand your mentee’s challenges and learn more about their perspective. Provide a safe space to explore opportunities and test potential courses of action. Curiosity gets you much further than expertise.

Deborah Heiser, PhD

CEO, The mentoring project

2022 Thinkers50 radar list

TEDx talkRethinking Aging: Mentoring for a New Generation

  1. Think of the legacy you want to leave behind. Who would you like to bring into the world with your expertise, your values ​​and your knowledge? This will help you think more meaningfully about your role as a mentor. You are giving another part of yourself – something you have worked very hard for.
  2. Think of mentoring as productive. By designing mentoring to advance knowledge/expertise/values, you can commit to the importance of mentoring. When we simply feel like giving something away, it feels like we’re being “used” or taken for granted.
  3. Mentoring is purposeful. Mentors need to remember the purpose of the mentoring relationship. What is the higher goal? Should it help the person achieve a goal in life? Connecting or reconnecting to the purpose of the mentor relationship helps build solid, meaningful connections that bring great emotional well-being to both the mentor and mentor.

Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH

Chief Physician, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

George Dock Professor of Internal Medicine and Vice Chairman of the University of Michigan School of Medicine

Author, The Mentoring Guide: Helping Mentors and Mentees to Succeed

TEDx talk: Improving Health Care: Straight from the Ear

What you should do: Giving your mentee honest feedback is important to their continued growth. However, please remember that openness without kindness can come across as cruelty.

What NOT TO DO: There are many types of Mentoring Misconduct but some of the most egregious are:

  1. kidnapping a mentee’s ideas (The Hijacker);
  2. Burden a mentee with low-yield activities (The Exploiter);
  3. Preventing the mentee from working and learning from others (The Possessor).

Brad Johnson, PhD and David Smith, PhD

authors, Athena risesHow and why men should mentor women and Good boysHow men can be better allies for women in the workplace

If you identify as a man and recognize that men play a crucial role in empowering women (especially in male-dominated contexts), then here are some best practices for showing yourself in mentoring programs with women:

  1. Take the initiative to acknowledge her excellent work and talent and offer to have a conversation about where she wants to go in her career.
  2. LISTEN BIG! Too often men listen just long enough to hear a problem they can solve. She doesn’t need you to solve her or her problem;
  3. Recognize her career dream, don’t assume she wants to follow your career path; make sure you understand their ideal trajectory;
  4. Transparently share important inside information that she otherwise would not have access to. For example, are her political landmines she should stay away from? Can she negotiate her salary? What do men at their level do? And are there any upcoming promotion opportunities that she should consider or that you could nominate her for?
  5. Finally, once you have a sense of their vision, sponsor them loudly by telling others in the organization about their achievements, potential, and their willingness to advance into roles that align with their goals/dreams.

Christine Pound, PhD

Director, Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (ROOMMATE), including entry into mentoring and entry into research

Author, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Math (NASEM) Consensus Report: The Science of Effective Mentorship

Most mentors ask me when I lead a mentoring training – what do I need to do to be an effective mentor? While there are indeed multiple mentoring competencies to develop, mentoring is more than the selection and implementation of a specific set of skills and tools. Effective mentoring is based on a conscious understanding of one’s beliefs, personal cultural identities and priorities. Ask yourself: who am I, what do I value and how does my mentoring show who I am?

Mentoring no longer has to be a trial and error process. There are best practices and benchmarks. For more information on how to be a great mentor, check out some of my other mentoring articles on Forbes, including mentoring advice from a Nobel Laureate who had 200 mentees and even shared the Nobel Prize with one of them, and what to look for in one mentor should pay attention to. Additionally, LinkedIn learning has numerous courses to teach you how to become an ideal mentor.

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