10 Ways to Improve Your Mentoring Relationship

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  • August 04, 2012

Good mentoring relationships can be richly rewarding both for the person being mentored and for the mentor themselves.  Mentors can provide valuable learning experiences for their mentees and expand their mentees’ awareness, insight and perspective.  As a mentor, you don’t have to have all the answers.  Sometimes the best answers for your mentee will come from their own thinking with the help of your wisdom to support them.

AMWA understands effective mentorship is an important determinant of career success and works to facilitate the mentoring and career advancement of women in medicine.  As a member of AMWA you have access to an extensive network of women physicians willing to offer more than career advice.  Your AMWA relationships will lead to career advancement opportunities including public speaking engagements, author opportunities, residency positions and job opportunities.

 To get involved in AMWA’s mentoring program sign up through our membership database here or email amwahelper@gmail.com.
If you are already involved in a mentor relationship, recognize your mentor with an Exceptional Mentor Award and here are a few tips to help improve your mentor relationship.
1.  Understand Personal Desires
A mentoring relationship is a personal one and often very important to the mentee.  Get to know your mentee on an individual and personal level.  Learn about their hopes, dreams, and goals beyond their current career decisions.  Understanding their personal desires for their future will help them in a way that meets their personal best interest.
2.  Acknowledge Conflicts of Interests
 Be aware of your role to the mentee and assess whether or not there is a conflict of interests.  Assess your emotional involvement and ask if there is an emotional connection that will influence their guidance.  In the same way, a direct supervisor needs to be aware of a potential conflict between what is in the best interest of the mentee and your role as their direct supervisor.  If a potential conflict of interests exists, assess your mentees personal needs and your personal network and find them a mentor that is better suited to their needs.  You can use AMWA’s membership database or email amwahelper@gmail.com for help finding your mentee another mentor.
3.  Ask open questions
Asking open questions will help the information gathering process.  The same applies to the mentor/mentee relationship.  Ask open questions and allow the mentee to speak freely about their needs, values, and passions.  Asking open questions will allow your mentee to think through situations themselves and draw out the consequences of the various choices or courses of action they can take.
4.  Act as a sounding board
 Mentees benefit from the opportunity of having a good mentor listen to them.  Allow them to explore their thoughts and ideas openly with you.  Sharing their concerns with you will help them navigate their potential course of action and discover insights into their own thinking.  During these conversations, you can share your experiences without making decisions for your mentee.
5.  Provide a fresh perspective
A good mentor will often provide their mentee with a fresh perspective on an issue.  Having clarity of distance from an issue or problem can allow the mentor to provide objective feedback to the mentee.  They can also help the mentee understand what others might think of the situation.
6.  Seek out new experiences
 Good mentors will seek out experiences or create situations in which their mentees can become involved to learn new things.  Take the time to find and offer opportunities to your mentee whether it be job opportunities, speaking engagements, research opportunities, scholarship or grant, and leadership opportunities.  Match your new understanding of their personal interest with new opportunities.  AMWA can help you generate ideas for new experiences for your mentee by visiting the member benefits page on our website.  We also post career advancement opportunities daily on our facebook page.  Check AMWA’s Facebook page daily for regular updates.
7.  Choose feedback carefully
Not all feedback is helpful.  A good mentor understands this and will deliver feedback in a way that will help their mentee gain insight to further develop specific qualities or skills.  You can always ask for permission to give feedback before doing so.  Explain what you would like to talk about and highlight the benefits of doing so.
 8.  Build Confidence
Build your mentee’s confidence by acknowledging achievements they might have forgotten.  Remind them of the positive accomplishments they made along the way.  Remember to celebrate their successes on your mentoring journey.
 9.  Share Personal Obstacles
Choose stories you feel are helpful without attachment to how your mentee will use this learning.  Be comfortable sharing your mistakes and failures in order to provide an opportunity for learning.  Sharing your hurdles will help your mentee be aware of the challenges that lie ahead.  Learning from the way you dealt with the obstacle may also help them gain insight about how to build resilience.
10.  Offer Advice, When Asked
 Be a sounding board, allow them to discuss the situation, and help them think through the situation by asking open questions to draw out the consequences of various actions.  This approach can be empowering to the mentee because it helps them work through the issue and come to their own conclusions.  Ultimately, this will help them learn to think through the issues themselves and trust their own judgement, both valuable life skills.  Then, if asked, provide advice.
Effective mentoring can be an important factor in career advancement.  Sign up for AMWA’s mentoring program through our membership database or email amwahelper@gmail.com for more information.  Read more about AMWA’s Mentoring Program here.
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