Ellie Highwood draws on her experience as a mentor and her training as a coach to provide top tips to make your mentoring experience even more meaningful.
In many cases, there is not a definite right or wrong way to do things, and it will always depend on the relationship between the mentor and mentee. The answers here are designed to give you some options to reflect on whether they will work for you.
Set up an agreement upfront about what the end goal is for the mentoring partnership and individual session.
Agree a structure for the session ahead of time or at the start.
Give the mentoring sessions adequate time (overestimate) and priority during that time.
Make the sessions regular.
Agree the next session or next contact before you leave the session.
Where possible, be flexible and creative about how material is shared – for example, some mentees may work in sensitive areas where they cannot send information about what they are doing outside of the organisation. They may however be able to show you what they are doing if you meet in person or on a call. Creativity and flexibility can also be needed in clinical situations.
Make it individual.
Listen to your mentee, and bear in mind that it is not your agenda - be guided by them.
Don’t tell, ask.
Equally, don’t feel obliged to tell the mentee everything or answer significant questions straight away.
Provide encouragement and keep the momentum going.
Push boundaries, but at an appropriate level, and provide support (or scaffolding) while you are pushing them.
Model what good looks like, but remember that the aim is not to create a clone of yourself!
Provide feedback that offers a bigger picture and helps create some order or structure to thoughts.
Bear in mind that mentees may well have other things going on in their lives and be kind.
Seek feedback from the mentee so that the learning is a two-way partnership.
Keep a non-judgemental, open mind about an individual’s motivation for applying for CGeog, but acknowledge that this can impact the mentoring. Some people apply for CGeog for a variety of reasons, others apply because it is a requirement of their organisation (and if they are unsuccessful it therefore has an impact on their career progression). CGeog mentoring sessions are likely to need different tone and structure depending on the drivers for the mentee.
Engender trust by keeping information and experiences confidential unless you have explicit permission to share.
Try not to take any negativity experienced in the session personally.
© Ellie Highwood 2021
Highwood, E, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Top Tips for Making Mentoring Even More Meaningful. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/mentoringtips. Last accessed on: <date>
Image via @johnschno/Unsplash
Nina MacVinish was a panel member in the online discussion ‘Geospatial skills and continuing professional development’ at the AGI’s annual GeoCom event in November 2020
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