Leadership Coaching Consultant and paediatric dentist Associate Professor Nicky Kilpatrick shares some tips for a successful mentoring partnership
Mentoring has been described as a way of ‘remaining connected, staying relevant and continuing to contribute to our community’. This year more than ever it seems that the most productive mentoring relationships are those in which both parties have and continue to take time getting to know and understand each other rather than focusing all the time on tasks and goals. To this end, we’d like to encourage you to take time to connect with your mentoring partner again. Here are some ideas that came out of our mid-year check in a couple of weeks ago:
- Invite them to a ‘meet’ up in whatever way you are able to;
- Go for a walk and a coffee (remembering you can walk and talk remotely) and
- Ask them to connect for a 5-minute check-in
- Be genuinely curious to know how is your mentor/mentee doing today, this week?
- Ask them what are they doing this weekend?
- Find out – in general - what is working well in their lives and what is hard for them right now?
It can be hard sometimes to think of things to discuss in your mentoring pairs particularly this year where work/university is so disrupted. In the past some activities that have been popular are:
- Helping prepare CVs,
- Reviewing cover letters,
- Conducting mock-interviews (many of which will happen virtually this year),
- Browsing LinkedIn together and exploring different employment opportunities and
- Actively making introductions to people in your network for a career conversation
please be proactive and reach out to your mentor. They have all volunteered their time and they want to be in this program. The most common comment from mentors is ‘we are here to help!’ - so don’t be shy! Remember that your mentors may not have all the answers however they too are living through these challenging times and they may like to share their experiences with you. Here are some questions you might like to ask them:
- How are you managing in this disrupted world?
- What are you finding useful about being in lockdown?
- What have you learned about yourself or other people around you?
while we encourage students to be proactive in driving the mentoring relationship, particularly in this remote environment, please reach out and encourage your mentee to connect with you. Many students feel hesitant about ‘bothering’ their mentor so please take the initiative and make contact. Let your student know that you’d welcome this opportunity to catch up with them again. Here are some suggestions:
- Suggest a regular time to meet – it may only be for 20 minutes once a month.
- One way to build trust and confidence in a mentoring relationship is to share some of the challenges you have or are facing, how you overcame these and what you’ve learnt from the experience. It is often through adversity that we thrive and in sharing these experiences we help build resilience in others. Be bold.
- Share your favourite book, magazine, Netflix show or walking trail with your mentee. See if you can find some common interests that might lead to more connections.