Being a Good Mentor

Mentoring others takes skill and a willingness to learn. In addition to providing advice about specific strategies that might lead to success, for example, which journal would be a good outlet for a particular piece of research or how to help students learn a particular concept or subject, mentors should be ready to:

  • Give clear direction about what goals need to be achieved and suggest strategies that might ensure they are.
  • Direct a colleague toward resources–including information, financial support, or other programs–and provide guidance on how to secure them.
  • Help a colleague develop connections with others who can provide valuable advice and support.
  • Advocate for or sponsor a colleague for career-enhancing opportunities.
  • Listen, coach and help problem-solve.
  • Help their colleagues document the impact of unexpected circumstances–or life circumstances in general–on their career progress. For example, mentors should provide guidance on how to document the impact of COVID-19 on specific areas of teaching and scholarship.

No single mentor can do it all, all the time. The best mentors know when to do which of the above, and are open to their mentee’s direction about which might be needed at a particular time.

Section 3 of the Mentoring Toolkit focuses on key skills needed to support a colleague, including a checklist of mentoring skills.