these tips to establish a successful mentoring relationship.
decided to become a mentor. You are about to embark on a truly rewarding
experience that benefits you, your protege, and the healthcare field.
Having made the decision to seek a mentoring relationship, you are probably
wondering what to do next.
right steps to take early on can get your mentoring relationship moving
in the appropriate direction. With that in mind, following are a few tips
for getting started:
the difference between mentoring and managing.
Understanding what's involved in your role as a mentor-and how it differs
from your role as a manager-is key to providing your protege with a meaningful
mentoring experience. Your role as a manager and as a mentor may seem
very similar. In both roles you serve as a combination of coach, confidant,
and sounding board to someone. However, as a mentor, you have to be prepared
to take on a broader, more personal relationship than the one you have
established with your employees. The main difference between managing
and mentoring is mostly a matter of intensity and direction. Managers
are concerned with their employees' performances, making sure they complete
tasks accurately, on time, and within budget. As a mentor, your purpose
is to provide your protege with perspective and questions that encourage
learning and to challenge the individual to think in new and creative
ways. And unlike the manager/employee relationship, the mentor/protege
relationship extends beyond the typical workday or a traditional workplace
you can offer.
Before you begin as a mentor, you'll need to clarify what type of mentoring
relationship interests you. For example, you may be interested in mentoring
someone who is new to the healthcare field. Or maybe you would like to
help an employee in your organization who shows great promise as a leader
but could use a little guidance. Understanding what you have to offer
as a mentor will help you decide they type of mentoring relationship you
want. Do you have special knowledge and skills specific to your job? If
so, you may want to consider mentoring someone who is on the same career
track as you. Think about the things you know and how you learned them.
One of your biggest roles as a mentor is to bring added value by sharing
significant lessons learned from personal experience.
Once you have decided what type of person you would like to mentor and
what you have to offer, you can begin the selection process. The best
proteges are individuals who are excited about learning and leading their
own development. When choosing a protege, look for someone who catches
your attention-someone who shows interest, energy, and capability. If
you haven't noticed anyone with such attributes, ask your colleagues.
Your human resource or training and development department may know of
people within your organization who have expressed interest in becoming
a protege. You can also ask fellow managers if they have any staff members
who have expressed interest in having a mentor. Your organization may
even have a mentoring program that can pair you with a protege based on
your skills and knowledge and your protege's goals. Of course you don't
have to mentor someone within your organization. Attending meetings and
events hosted by your professional association is an excellent way to
meet a potential protege.
You may be
in a situation where an individual has approached you for mentoring guidance.
If that is the case, you'll want to have a conversation with that person
about his or her accomplishments, commitment, and goals. You will also
want to share what mentoring means to you and find out what the individual
perceives it to mean. This approach can help you agree on what you both
want to accomplish.
Once you've found someone you are interested in mentoring, you'll need
to approach that individual with an offer. Let the potential protege know
what you have noticed in him or her and that you would like to offer your
mentoring assistance. Be clear that you are not suggesting a deficiency
on the part of the potential protege-but hoping to offer added value.
Don't be surprised by the reaction. The individual may feel honored and
privileged that you offered; or defensive and skeptical, wondering what
your ulterior motives are. Taking part in a mentoring relationship is
a big decision for anyone, so give your potential protege plenty of time
to think it over. Make yourself available to answer questions he or she
will undoubtedly have about you and what you have to offer.
both have agreed to go forth with the mentoring relationship, both of
you will need to talk to your protege's manager. Let the manager know
what role you wish to play in your protege's development and ask for some
guidance and support.
Prepare for the first meeting.
One of the objectives of your first meeting should be to establish goals
for the mentoring relationship. Before your first formal meeting, ask
your protege to come prepared with answers to questions such as: What
do you expect from a mentor? What are your development goals for the year?
Where do you see yourself in three years? As a mentor, you should be prepared
to share your expectations and goals as well. A discussion about what
you both hope to accomplish and gain will give your relationship direction.
the first meeting, decide on how often you will meet and whether you will
communicate in person or via e-mail or telephone. Make sure you emphasize
that scheduled meetings need not be the only time you communicate with
each other. Let your protege know that you are accessible to hear questions,
thoughts, and concerns at any reasonable time. Before your meeting is
over, decide on when you will meet next. Your first two or three meetings
should have some sort of structure to them. Pose a question that your
protege should prepare an answer for the next time you meet-this will
give you something to structure the meeting around.
build in a feedback expectation to the relationship so both you and the
protege can say whether you are getting what you need out of the arrangement.
This self-renewal capability can get your relationship back on track if
it starts heading in the wrong direction.
are interested in becoming a mentor, ACHE has a number of resources to
help you get started. The Leadership
Mentoring Network can help match you with a protege who has similar
career interests. For more information, call ACHE's Healthcare Executive
Career Resource Center at (312) 424-9446 or complete the online application
at the link above. A mentoring relationship can also serve as your project
for advancement to Fellow status in ACHE. For information on the Fellow
project mentoring option, call the Division of Member Services at (312) 424-9386.
Ambrose is a managing partner at Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc., an
organizational development consulting firm that helps organizations create
mentoring cultures. He is author of the book, A Mentor's Companion.
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Executive, May/June 2001