Mentoring for Chartership
The Geological Society recognises the important role that mentoring can have in supporting Fellows whilst they are preparing for Chartership. The mentoring service it offers encourages those embarking on Chartership to apply for a mentor, as well as encouraging and supporting the more experienced Fellows to become mentors. Mentoring provides the opportunity to share knowledge and experience to help others develop and progress.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a person who assists another to grow, acquire new skills and insights, and develop his or her potential. The mentoring relationship builds confidence and helps the mentee to take responsibility for his or her own development.
- Volunteers time to take a personal interest in others
- Listens actively
- Questions and finds out what is important to the mentee, exploring their skills and aspirations
- Creates an open and candid relationship, to encourage the growth of trust and confidence which assists the learning process
- Regards all the mentee says as confidential
- Avoids mentoring those in a direct reporting line
- Is fully aware of their own limitations and is able to overcome them, as well as those of the mentee
- Has appropriate experience for the role
- Is a Chartered Geologist or Scientist and is aware of the criteria for Chartered status
Benefits of mentoring
- Satisfaction from helping others and seeing them progress
- Developing a deeper, broader knowledge of the profession
- Opportunity to practise and develop management skills
- Job enrichment and the chance to build a wider network
- Increased self confidence and higher visibility within the profession
Key skills & responsibilities
Before you start mentoring, it is essential that you consider the amount of time you are willing to give. Does this match the level of commitment that your mentee expects? Can some of this time be by phone or e-mail access?
You will need to think beforehand about what you want from the mentoring relationship. For instance, who will responsible for the practical aspects of the process, who will organise when and where to meet and who will initiate reviews of the relationship?
You will need a range of interpersonal skills including:
- Listening attentively and non-judgementally
- Giving and receiving feedback
- Questioning skills to encourage your mentee to talk and think through issues
- The ability to challenge constructively
Being flexible means that you respond appropriately to your mentee’s changing needs and are open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. Flexibility comes with increased awareness of your own behaviour and those of others.
An important part of a successful mentoring relationship is the attitude and commitment of the individual being mentored. He or she should:
- Understand that the role of the mentor is to challenge, encourage and support, but not to provide answers
- Guard against becoming dependent on the mentor
- Approach each meeting fully prepared
- Be open to ideas, suggestions and different perspectives
- Be open and honest about what works and what does not
Benefits of having a mentor
Most of us benefit from having someone with whom we can discuss our aims, plans and problems. A mentor can offer:
- A different perspective
- Challenges based on experience
- Help getting motivated when going though a tough patch
- Help with setting goals and defining how to achieve them
Members who have used a mentor in the past have found that the relationship has:
- Enhanced their training and career development
- Significantly influenced their attitudes and professional outlook
- Guided them round major procedural obstacles and pitfalls
- Improved their results by challenging their assumptions
How to obtain a mentor
- Mentees should obtain the list of available mentors from Fellowship Services
- Mentees should select and make contact with the mentor they feel has the experience most relevant to them
- If mentees have difficulties obtaining a mentor they should contact the Fellowship Services
Relationships that start with a clear ‘learning contract’ are generally the most rewarding.
- Conflicts of interest must be avoided, so it is usually considered inappropriate for a mentoring relationship to exist between manager and subordinate, or close colleague.
- It is important that ground-rules are established at the beginning of the relationship, to avoid misunderstanding later on. These may include the timings and format of the meetings, the anticipated length of the commitment and method of communication.
- Responsibilities and expected outcomes should be discussed at an early stage. It is important to state any specific results the mentee hopes to gain from the relationship and how these will be measured.
Guidance for meetings
The first meeting
- Ensure expectations of the relationship are discussed and you both have a clear idea of the mentee’s goals.
- Agree guidelines on how you will work with each other. For instance how often you both think you need to meet and or how long, do you want to set an agenda for each meeting, whose responsibility will they be and where will they take place. This can be documented on the ‘learning contact’ (see www.geolsoc.org.uk/mentoring) for template
- The mentee should articulate what their expectations are of the mentor
- The mentor and mentee should jointly establish the gap between the mentee’s capabilities and experience and the requirements for Chartership
- The mentor should discuss with the mentee the most appropriate route to Chartership (i.e. Chartered Geologist or Chartered Scientist)
- Establish in what areas the mentee needs the most help and together create a development plan to monitor progress (see website for template)
- Briefly summarise the notes of the previous meeting (mentor and mentee to agree who does his)
- Update the status of any actions that were agreed.
- The mentor should build on the mentee’s own idea, share their thoughts and idea but not give advice
- The mentee should be encouraged to take notes.
- Agree time and date of next meeting.
Between meetings (mentor)
- Send a brief note to summarise actions (or delegate this to the mentee)
- Do anything that you have promised to so promptly
- Keep in touch, for example:
- Enquire how trips/activities went
- Forward articles/publications etc. that might be of relevance to the mentee
- Suggest training or events that might be of interest to the mentee
What to do if the relationship is not working
Although most mentoring relationship work well, there may be occasions when (for whatever reasons) when the relationship does not work. If at any time the relationship is not progressing as it should, please contact Fellowship Services.
If you would like to obtain a mentor or you would like to volunteer to become a mentor, please contact Janine Benn in the Fellowship Department (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7434 9944).