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Ten tips for successful mentoring

Jennifer Sabendran, RCP educationalist, shares 10 tips for successful mentoring.

Last year we trained the first cohort of mentors in London and, judging by the number of passionate mentors who attended the training, it's safe to say there's both a need and appetite. This year we've expanded the offering to regional training in Loughborough, Liverpool and London, and have had a really positive response.

I’d like to share with you my 10 tips for successful mentoring:

  1. Fulfil your potential: mentoring is not only for those in need, but for anyone who is keen to fulfil their potential. Mentors can be useful at any stage in one’s career and especially during times of transition.
  2. Boundary-setting is essential: mentors and mentees should take the time to set appropriate boundaries for the relationship.
  3. More than one mentor: mentees should cultivate a number of mentors, as each may serve a different purpose.
  4. Open-minded: mentors and mentees should be open-minded. Be prepared to challenge yourself and to work with a mentor or a mentee whose life experiences are different from your own.
  5. Clear purpose: the mentee should consider their purpose for mentoring. The mentee should take the time to consider where they want to be in 6 months’ / a year’s time, and visualise what success would look and feel like for them.
  6. Evolve over time: both the mentor and the mentee should approach the mentoring process in a flexible way and allow the mentoring relationship to evolve continuously over time.
  7. Identify limitations: mentors should identify their own limitations, and should enable their mentee to build their own support networks.
  8. Self-awareness: the mentee is their own expert on who they are, and should be responsible for driving the relationship.
  9. Don't take offence: the mentor should be interested in the development of the mentee, but shouldn't take offence if the mentee doesn’t follow their advice.
  10. Structure can be useful: RCP mentors have found Egan’s ‘skilled helper model’ useful in providing a structure for mentoring. The model can be used in isolation or in conjunction with other mentoring models.

Many of the mentors have their own stories to tell and personal reasons for wanting to become a mentor themselves. Many mentors realise that they could learn a great deal from their mentee.

Chris James (consultant physician based at Withybush Hospital) and I, who delivered the training, felt moved and humbled by the stories of the mentors’ own journeys.

Jennifer Sabendran, RCP educationalist