Currently I am the Co-Director of New Faculty Mentoring Program at UNCG.
Mentoring is a life-changing proposition. There are no quick fixes. Visiting one class with a critique of teaching is not what mentoring is about, nor is help constructing the tenure portfolio. Mentoring is not about improving production. If mentoring is geared to a product it will never reach its full potential. If we enter a mentoring relationship with an agenda and expect to see fast results, we are on the wrong boat.All growth takes time. We want our new faculty to put down deep roots, to develop a strong foundation for their future at UNCG. We are in this for the long term, and a short term return on a brief but intensive investment will not get us where we want to go. Mentoring is a process that requires perseverance. We will have to remember that the growth we seek may not be obvious on the outside.
A good mentor is focused on being helpful. A good mentor doesn’t give up on the protégé even when the protégé gives up on herself. A good mentor meets the protégé where she is, not where the mentor, or the department head wants her to be. A good mentor has to have a great capacity for acceptance and nurturance. The mentor’s goal is not to lead someone where we think they need to be, but to encourage self-examination and reflection that allows the protégé to develop the inner resources to become the person who fills a unique place on the campus of UNCG.
Mentoring is exciting, because we never know where the journey will lead. But it’s not the wild excitement of an amusement park ride; it’s the quiet excitement of a good suspense novel. Mentoring may take us places we never expected to go.
Key Elements of mentoring
- Relationship between people
- Finding common ground
- Coming with valid issues but letting go of the outcomes
- Recognizing potential
- Willingness to respond outside the box
- Awareness of the power of corporate context (for good or bad)
Steps to Becoming a Good Mentor
Plow up the ground
- Know who you are.
- Work to create an inner hospitality.
- Reach for the inner resource to be supportive.
- Witness what rises up within us and then let go of it.
- Realize that the goal is not to change people.
In mentoring sessions
- Be mindful and attentive
- Listen deeply
- Accept, even if you don’t agree
- Respond to questions as appropriate
- Don’t try to solve the problem for them
- Ask discerning questions to facilitate the other finding their own resources
- Look at options
- Engage the person to clarify where they are now
Create a safe place
- Be affirming. Be aware of the need to be heard, to be seen.
- Act from a centered place.
- Identify: Gifts, needs
- Encourage: Sharing of gifts, self-examination, self-clarification
- Promote: Appropriate placement on committees, introductions to helpful people, appropriate workshops