Tips for Mentors

Evaluate your skills and time.

Evaluate whether you are the right person for the role, in terms of both expertise and time. Also, keep in mind that while you cannot be everything to a mentee, it is likely that you will be able to perform a specific mentoring function.

Say no, if you want to say no.

If you are contacted and feel that you are NOT the best person, suggest someone else with expertise.

Be available.

Be as flexible as possible about being available to your mentees. Experiment with engaging in "mentoring conversations" one at a time.

Be curious.

Practice conscious listening to help mentees figure out what they want. Empower them in their own careers.

Be courteous.

Give sufficient notice before changing meetings. Respond to emails and telephone calls promptly.

Be in touch.

Try to keep in touch regularly, through emails or phone.

Be honest about the relationship.

Clarify your role and what the mentee expects of you. Clarify your own boundaries – psychologically and in your external world. Let your mentee know if you think the relationship needs to change, due to shifts in her needs, pressures on your time, etc.

Play a role in career advancement.

Talk about your mentee’s accomplishments within the institution, introduce them to others, and recommend them for new opportunities. Share the unwritten rules of the academic institution. Empower your mentees to choose roles that require them to demonstrate skills that are requisite for higher-level positions and responsibilities.  Review where your mentees are in relation to promotion and tenure (e.g., scholarship, teaching, service).

Help establish goals.

What do you and your mentee hope to accomplish?  Set up realistic timelines for project milestones.

Give feedback.

Offer comments that are specific and honest, and that address strengths and positive attributes as well as areas for improvement.

Uphold professional standards.

Establish a relationship of respect and trust.  Provide consistency of presence and temperament.  Appreciate and respect the difference.

Get your own personal "coaching staff" in place to support you.

Consider your own needs and "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others."