- The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You
Men-tor (noun). Definition: 1) an experienced advisor and supporter; a person, usually older and more experienced, who advises and guides a younger, less experienced person; 2) a trainer, a senior or experienced person in a company or organization who gives guidance and training to a junior colleague.
Ment-ee (noun). Definition: a mentored person; someone who is mentored. (Encarta, 2009)
As indicated by these definitions, historically, the mentoring relationship has been defined by the mentor. Lois J. Zachary and Lory A. Fischler illuminate the contributions of the mentee in developing excellent mentoring relationships in The Mentee's Guide.
Lois A. Zachary, the primary author, is an expert on mentoring. A Ph.D. in adult and continuing education from Columbia University, she is recognized as one of the "best minds" in the field of organizational leadership. She is president of Leadership Development Services, LLC, and has years of experience in research and in cultivating mentoring relationships. Lory A. Fischler, a senior associate at Leadership Development Services and graduate of Lake Erie College, is recognized as an award-winning instructor in the corporate sector. The stories shared in The Mentee's Guide emerged from more than 30 interviews conducted by Fischler and years of collective experience.
The Mentee's Guide is divided into seven chapters with a preface, acknowledgments, author information, and an appendix. Chapters 1–6 address the stages of the mentor relationship from preparation to completion, and Chapter 7 discusses how to make the transition from mentee to mentor. The appendix contains a thorough annotated bibliography as well as a reference list. Collectively, the chapters blend theory, narrative, and hands-on exercises.
Chapter 1, "The Power and Process of Mentoring," introduces the concept and operational definition of mentorship. It discusses basic tenets of the mentoring relationship, including reciprocity, learning, building relationships and partnerships, collaboration, defining mutual goals, and personal development. It also introduces the fourstage model of mentoring: preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure. This theoretical foundation is necessary for the more practical chapters that follow.
Chapter 2, "Preparing Yourself to Make the Most of the Mentoring Relationship," introduces the idea that a mentoring relationship is, at its core, a reflective practice. The authors provide in-depth personal reflective exercises that ask would-be mentees to outline their personal development and develop a personal vision statement. They also include a skill inventory, as well as information [End Page 185] related to David Kolb's Learning Style Model. By developing self-awareness, the authors assert, mentees will have an easier time identifying a mentor "match."
Chapter 3, "Finding and Getting to Know Your Mentor," provides a criteria-based decision-making model for identifying mentors, numerically ranking candidates in order of fit, and discussing how to recruit mentors. A particular strength of this chapter is the sample recruitment conversations. The chapter concludes by preparing mentees for their initial mentoring conversations.
The next chapters, "Establishing Agreements with Your Mentor" and "Doing the Work," focus on the processes, shared accountability, and maintenance of the mentorship relationship. Several exercises help the reader identify shared goals and the action steps necessary to complete them, including a mentoring partnership agreement and work plan. In addition, the authors provide tips and guidelines to help mentees get the most out of their mentoring time, identify learning opportunities, assess progress towards goals, and use feedback.
Chapters 6 and 7 cover how to bring the mentor relationship to closure and transition from mentee to mentor respectively. Chapter 6 is intended to prepare mentees to redefine the mentoring relationship and reflect on what has been accomplished. It provides sample closure conversations and tips for ending a relationship prematurely, if necessary. Chapter 7 encourages mentees to acknowledge the importance of the mentor role by becoming mentors themselves. It provides some hands-on tools to help convert mentee skills into effective mentor skills, such as facilitation, listening, providing feedback, and assessing one's own mentoring attributes.
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