2b. Understand Your Role as a Mentor

Spending time at the beginning of the relationship clarifying what you can legitimately expect to give and get through mentoring is essential. It is especially beneficial for the individuals involved to discuss, negotiate, and agree upon expectations. The figure below provides an illustrative list of your roles as a mentor, effective behaviours, and detracting behaviours:

Advisor

Effective

  • Acts as a sounding board and facilitator
  • Maintains privacy/confidentiality

Ineffective

  • Fixes problems
  • Assumes responsibility for mentee

Protector

Effective

  • Supports, is a safety net
  • Ensures a safe environment to take risks

Ineffective

  • Fights mentee’s battles
  • Overprotects

Developer

Effective

  • Gives structure and direction
  • Provides guidance based on observations during interactions with mentee
  • Empowers mentee to handle his/her problems independently

Ineffective

  • Dictates, controls learning
  • Looks for quick-fixes
  • Provides general criticism or judgment
  • Tells mentee what to do

Broker

Effective

  • Identifies skill or competency gaps through a “third party” lens
  • Identifies and facilitates development opportunities

Ineffective

  • Allows for personal biases
  • Abdicates, does not follow up

Challenger

Effective

  • Positively provokes, pushes toward highest standards
  • Helps mentee explore potential career opportunities

Ineffective

  • Pushes too far too soon
  • Discounts mentee’s thoughts and opinions

Clarifier

Effective

  • Teaches organizational values and politics

Ineffective

  • Removes obstacles so mentee does not have to deal with organizational politics

Affirmer

Effective

  • Gives needed support, enhances self-esteem
  • Exhibits empathy and understanding

Ineffective

  • Gives too much feedback
  • Discounts mentee’s feelings or concerns

Sponsor

Effective

  • Provides visibility and recognition of mentee

Ineffective

  • Promotes mentee at the expense of others
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