March 2002

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Mentors Benefit From Helping Others

Editor's Note: The following article is part of a series of articles from APEGGA's mentoring committee. It is the first to focus on the mentor.

In previous editions of The PEGG we have provided information on what it takes to be a mentee. Today we are going to focus on the mentor.

A mentor can be any experienced person who goes out of his or her way to help another person reach important goals. They can be of either gender, and older, the same age or younger than those they help. What has changed over the years is the fact that the mentees drive the relationships now to suit their own goals.

What does the mentor get out of the relationship? Mentors have opportunities to: increase skills which can be used in numerous areas of their lives; indirectly "pay back" their own mentors for help received; increase their own network; demonstrate their ability to develop new talent; gain satisfaction from contributing to someone's development and gain a fresh enthusiasm for their own careers.

There are skills required by both the mentor and the mentee to ensure a successful relationship. According to Dr. Linda Phillips Jones, a mentor must:

1) Be a good listener to demonstrate to their mentees that their concerns have been heard and understood

2) have a personal vision, specific career/life goals (or can demonstrate how these got them to where they are) and a good grasp of current reality

3) be able to build the trust of the mentees in order to build their commitment

4) encourage the mentees with recognition and positive feedback

If the above four sound familiar, it's because they are exactly the same skills required of the mentee.

In addition the mentor must possess some additional critical skills. You must:

5) be able to inspire high levels of commitment and performance

6) provide constructive feedback

7) protect your mentees from critical errors while allowing them to develop .

8) expose mentees to situations and experiences not normally available to them (introductions to individuals/groups, attending meetings etc.)

9) provide instruction and guidance to enable the mentee to fully develop their capabilities.

Using a scale of 5-3-1-0 for Excellent-Very Good-Good-Poor rate yourself on the above nine skills. If your total is less than 15 don't try being a mentor yet. If your total is less than 25 tread gently and work on those less developed skills. If you score 25 or more, what's holding you back!

There are several dos and don'ts that provide the framework within which the relationship will work. Here are some dos:

  • Help your mentee take the initiative
  • Respect your mentee's time as much as your own
  • Be explicit about your needs and limits (time, resources etc.)
  • Be sensitive in making suggestions or in criticizing
  • Tell your mentee that you don't expect him or her to follow all of your suggestions
  • Expect your mentee to move toward his or her (not your) goals
  • Express appreciation to your mentee for help given you
  • Be constructive when working through conflicts.
  • Keep your relationship on a professional basis
  • Make only positive or neutral comments about your mentee to others
  • Be prepared to end the formal mentoring relationship after 12 months but encourage a continued, less formal, relationship.

In the next PEGG we'll provide you with a check list of activities you can complete as you work with your mentee.

APEGGA is assessing its role in mentoring. At the present time APEGGA is piloting a program in Calgary only. Contact Dr. Judith Lentin, P.Geol. in Calgary at (403) 264-0173 and or Len Shrimpton, P.Eng. in the APEGGA office in Edmonton at 1-800-661-7020 and (780) 426-3990 and for information about how you can be involved.

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