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Module 1: Roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees

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  1. What are the mentor's roles and responsibilities?
  2. What is not included in a mentor's list of roles and responsibilities?
  3. What are the mentee's roles and responsibilities?

What are the mentor's roles and responsibilities? (1)

  • Prioritize the mentoring session. Mentees invest time preparing for these sessions; therefore, try to prevent other demands from bumping the session from your calendar. 
  • Set aside time and space. Ensure that you will be uninterrupted during the mentoring session.
  • Prepare for the session. Review any email correspondence and notes you may have from previous sessions.
  • Give full attention to the mentee. Let go of other urgencies and stresses, clear your mind and focus on helping the mentee during the session.
  • Communicate through active listening. Focus fully on the mentee and show active verbal and non-verbal signs of listening.
  • Share resources. Consider and collect any resources that might be useful to the mentee.
  • Share experiences. Be open to sharing mistakes, failures and lessons learned.
  • Wear multiple hats:
    • Coach to advise the mentees on how to accomplish their goals
    • Sponsor or champion to provide guidance and help increase the mentee’s exposure to new experiences
    • Teacher to provide learning opportunities
    • Protector to provide a safe environment in which the mentee can make mistakes without losing credibility
    • Counselor to enhance the mentee's self esteem through supportive, non-judgmental discussions
    • Role model to walk the talk and demonstrate the behaviours necessary for success

What is not included in a mentor's list of roles and responsibilities? (2)

  • Offer jobs or internships to the mentee
  • Have all the answers
  • Initiate all contacts with the mentee
  • Provide support outside of your profession or scope of interest (e.g., tutoring)

What are the mentee's roles and responsibilities? (1)

  • It's helpful if you use the first session to get to know the mentor. Share your ideas, concerns and professional goals. Your mentor will then be able to put your situation in perspective.
  • Be prepared and punctual for your mentoring sessions. You are responsible for establishing the agenda for the conversation. You might even email topics to the mentor ahead of time, if you think the mentor would appreciate it. At the beginning of each session, provide a brief update on progress since the last conversation.
  • You are responsible for initiating all contact with your mentor.
  • Establish a mutually agreeable plan for mentoring sessions. Schedule the sessions on your calendar and build in enough time around the sessions to prepare. Your mentor is a volunteer whose extra time is scarce. By ensuring that conversations start and end on time, you will demonstrate respect and responsibility.
  • Focus on the relationship, rather than outcomes. Your mentor's role is not to get you a job; it is to share valuable experience with you.
  • Ask direct questions about what you most want to know. You are responsible for ensuring the conversation meets your needs.
  • Be curious and ask questions. Don't be shy about asking, "What was that like for you?" or, "How did you feel at the time?" Ask a question or two at the start of each session to get to know your mentor's experiences, such as, "I'd love to learn about your career path" or, "What have you learned about how to achieve professional success?"
  • Take notes. Capture ideas and insights from the session and in between sessions. Include the commitments you and your mentor make to each other so you are able to follow up. It is discouraging for the mentor if you make commitments you don't act upon.
  • Respect your mentor's boundaries. Outside of the session, most mentors have very limited time to engage with mentees. Be careful not to inundate your mentor with emails or phone calls.
  • Say thank you! Remember to thank your mentor after each session and convey your appreciation for specific insights or examples that helped you. This information will let your mentor know more about what you value and how he or she is making a difference for you.
Sources:
(1) Institute of Food Technologists
(2) Wong, A.T. & Premkumar, K. (2007). Introduction to Mentoring Principles, Processes and Strategies for Facilitating Mentoring Relationships at a Distance

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