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IDS Alumni Mentoring - Best Practice

Getting the best out of mentoring

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This guidance is primarily for those mentors and mentees who would like to enter into a traditional mentoring type relationship, we recommend 6 months initially. Although all those seeking to give or receive advice will find this information useful.

What are mentors?

Alumni mentors are experienced professionals who have agreed to share their skills, knowledge and experience. They act as a guide and support to their mentee in a series of informal one-to-one discussions.
Mentees benefit from having an experienced person who takes the time to listen, explore and discuss specific development needs, be that career planning or expanding a personal network.
In turn mentors are able to develop their leadership and communication skills through these mentoring partnerships.

The purpose of the IDS Alumni Mentoring programme is to:
  • Enable mutual learning and development to take place in supported one-to-one mentoring relationships
  • Provide an opportunity for mentees to take responsibility for managing their own career development

Communication channels

  • We expect your mentoring relationship will be conducted primarily online through email and other digital channels (such as Skype/Zoom/other webchat), or via phone, as agreed. You may also have the opportunity for face to face meetings if you are located in the same town or city.
  • Where we refer to meetings we assume these to be virtual online meetings/ video conferences/ telephone calls rather than face to face meetings. If you are meeting face-to-face please ensure that you meet in a public place e.g. a cafe or on campus
  • Ensure all emails are read and understood before replying to each other. Respond to emails in a timely and professional manner.

Define your mentoring relationship up front

  • To get the best out of your mentoring relationship it’s best to agree in advance some ground rules, aims and goals, plus the length and frequency of contact. Agree and sign your mentoring contract.
  • Hold an initial conversation to see if your mentor/mentee match is the right one and is going to help you meet your goals or has the right skills. If not, don’t be afraid to politely say so up front with a clear reason why. 
  • Make sure you manage each other’s expectations and be clear from the start what you hope to gain from the mentoring relationship.
  • Ensure you agree and discuss confidentiality at the start. Your conversations should be kept confidential as possible. You may wish to record your conversations, for example in zoom or similar. This should be with the clear recorded consent of all parties, and kept in accordance with U.K. General Data Protection Regulations (see the mentoring code of conduct for more details, and contact the alumni office if you have any concerns).
  • However, you should report any criminal conduct, possible harassment or bullying, health and safety and wellbeing issues/incidents. Contact alumni@ids.ac.uk if you have concerns about this
  • As best practice we suggest that the mentoring relationship is up to an initial six months, with a review session at the end of the agreed period. 

Advice for mentors

  • Consider your previous experience as a mentor. Is this your first time in this role? Think carefully about your goals and what you want to gain from being a mentor. Be realistic in how much time you can commit and the frequency of contact. Start off with one mentee.
  • Have you considered getting a more experienced mentor to guide you through the process?
  • If you are experienced as a mentor – you may feel that you can take on more than one mentee but do not take on too many at one time. Know your limits.
  • Be open to relationships with mentees regardless of whether they are interested in your specific sector – valuable guidance can from all careers and all paths.
  • Devote time to the mentee (how many meetings with the mentee will vary. In general we recommend 2 a month initially, however, in some relationships mentees may need more time to reflect on your first meeting).
  • Control the relationship and its expectations
  • Listen without evaluating or judging. Practice
  • Ask questions and share expertise.
  • Assess existing skills and help identify skill gaps
  • Focus on actions that will achieve the mentee’s goals.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Hide your mentoring profile if temporarily unable to help mentees, respond when active.
  • Complete an annual evaluation of the service.

Advice for mentees

  • Think carefully about what you want from the mentoring relationship. What are your goals? Are they SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound)?
  • Is this your first experience as a mentee? It is best to have just one mentor at a time to begin with. This is particularly important for students. 
  • Be willing to take responsibility for your mentoring relationship.
  • Be open minded and able to see a different perspective.
  • Be open to seeking mentors outside a specific subject or sector- valuable guidance can come from all careers and paths.
  • Be receptive to feedback.
  • Do not seek personal or career favours out of the relationship.
  • Be clear about what you want to achieve from the relationship. 
  • Initiate and drive the relationship – don’t sit back, it’s a two way process.
  • Take responsibility for yourself and your career development.
  • Understand what your mentor expects of you and allocate time and energy to the mentoring relationship.
  • Follow through on commitments.

 Ending the mentoring relationship

  • When bringing the mentoring relationship to a close it is important for both parties to evaluate the process and what you have achieved. 
  • Did you meet your goals, or there are any outstanding? At the end of the relationship it becomes the responsibility of the mentee to put into practice what they have learnt, although you may agree to have some form of interaction in the future.
  • Celebrate the successes.
  • Sign post to other areas of information and support, if appropriate.
  • Say goodbye.
  

Further Information:

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