Main Nav

Susan E. Metros and Catherine Yang have summarized the research on the phases of mentoring relationships in their chapter "The Importance of Mentors" in Cultivating Careers: Professional Development for Campus IT. This section is reprinted directly from their chapter with permission from the authors.

The authors discuss four phases of the mentoring relationships: identify, negotiate, facilitate, and graduate.

Identify

In finding a mentor, it is important to establish the goals of the mentorship and the core competencies needed for effectiveness in present and future positions. Identifying an appropriate mentor and objectives is critical to successful career planning. (See Table 1.) For example, a new campus IT manager hired from industry probably will need help acclimating to the culture and politics of higher education. In this case, it would be wise to seek a successful mentor who has a deep understanding of how the institution works and of the historical characteristics for managerial excellence within the organization.

Table 1. Identify Phase Responsibilities

Mentor's Responsibilities

Have a clear understanding of your motivation for becoming a mentor

Agree to mentor based on a realistic assessment of your skills and leadership experience

Be open to mentoring individuals from outside your discipline

Mentee's Responsibilities

Have a clear understanding of your motivation for wanting to be mentored

Select a mentor based on preestablished criteria relevant to your career goals

Broaden your search for a mentor to include nontraditional fields and organizations

 

Potential mentors can be found in a variety of ways. A few large institutions have formal mentoring programs. Others have formal, IT-specific mentoring programs. An organization's human resources department can often provide information on both internal and external mentoring opportunities. Outside the organization, professional associations such as EDUCAUSE, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and various other technical and local networking groups can help locate potential mentors. Another method is using mailing lists and online resources to identify people with specific expertise and experience. Finally, think creatively in identifying mentors. Ask friends, family, and colleagues for personal referrals. Advice can be found anywhere, not just in one field or institution.

While most mentoring relationships take place within the same organization, no steadfast rule says a mentor or mentee cannot come from beyond the boundaries of the discipline, division, or even the institution, especially as you advance in your career. This practice is more common in smaller organizations where mentors may not be as plentiful or diverse. IT support often spans numerous units of an organization, so mentoring relationships might pair central support staff with decentralized staff. Universities also employ a broad range of professional staff, so it might be wise for IT professionals to choose a mentor from another area such as the office of business and finance or the college of education, depending on which professional development gaps they hope to address.

While most mentor/mentee relationships involve two individuals, choosing multiple mentors, simultaneously or over a period of time, might prove beneficial. IT is complex and multifaceted, and a network of mentors makes it easier for the mentee to adapt to change and gain a diverse portfolio of knowledge quickly. Also, new research supports building "relationship constellations," a theory espousing the advantages of a protégé cultivating developmental networks comprised of multiple mentors.1

Another way to build a mentoring relationship is to partner with a colleague in choosing a mentor together. This "doubling up" eases the mentor's time commitment, and the mentee partner brings a different perspective to the table, broadening the scope of discussion. Use caution when participating in group mentoring programs, however, because the relationship of one mentor to many mentees does not always allow participants to address their individual goals.

Negotiate

Zachary2 labeled the negotiating phase of the mentoring relationship as the "business phase." The mentoring partners must agree on the goals and outcomes, decide on ground rules, work out the details and logistics, and develop a mentoring plan complete with criteria for success. While formal mentoring programs might require a memorandum of understanding or even a signed contact, the negotiating phase is really about managing expectations, creating a shared understanding, and building a foundation of trust. (See Table 2.)

Table 2. Negotiate Phase Responsibilities

Mentor's Responsibilities

Have a clear understanding of your expectations for your mentee and the ensuing relationship

Clearly communicate your expectations

Be flexible-be willing to alter your expectations and change your plans

Have a plan (formal or informal) with milestones and defined deliverables

Codevelop an exit strategy

Try to adapt your feedback to your mentee's learning style

Be realistic about the time commitment to successfully oversee the relationship

Mentee's Responsibilities

Have a clear understanding of your expectations for your mentor and the ensuing relationship

Clearly communicate your expectations

Be flexible-be willing to alter your expectations and change your plans

Have a plan (formal or informal) with milestones and defined deliverables

Codevelop an exit strategy

Inform your mentor of your preferred learning style

Be realistic about the time commitment to do homework and self-reflection

 

Facilitate

The facilitation phase makes up the bulk of the mentoring relationship: the mentoring plan is implemented, and the relationship with the mentor is developed. (See Table 3.) For a mentor, Patricia Battin reminds us, the facilitation phase "means conscious tailoring of opportunities for individuals that require them to stretch-and then helping them do it."3 For the mentee, this phase can be difficult, but ultimately rewarding-it means recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and addressing them through appropriate actions and opportunities.

Table 3. Facilitate Phase Responsibilities

Mentor's Responsibilities

Advise, don't dictate

Advise on what you know; admit what you don't know or refer to others

Provide relevant examples and resources

Recognize your mentee's weaknesses but build on his or her strengths

Give constructive criticism

Don't shy away from difficult conversations

Periodically evaluate progress and reassess the relationship

Celebrate successes

Be reliable

Mentee's Responsibilities

Actively listen and contribute to the conversations

Understand your mentor will not have all of the answers-be willing to look them up

Access resources-do your homework

Acknowledge your weaknesses but build on your strengths

Accept and reflect on constructive criticism

Don't shy away from difficult conversations

Periodically evaluate progress and reassess the relationship

Celebrate successes

Be reliable

 

Graduate

Once the mentoring relationship has been established and fostered, it is important to understand the parameters for when the association should change or end. (See Table 4.) Ending a mentoring relationship does not mean it has failed. Often, it simply means that the initial goals of the mentorship have been attained, and it is time to "graduate" and move on.

Table 4. Graduate Phase Responsibilities

Mentor's Responsibilities

Be sensitive as to when the relationship has run its course

After mentoring relationship is finished, follow up on successes

Provide a summative evaluation of the experience

Don't forget to say thank you

Mark the graduation with a celebration

Repeat the mentoring process with others

Mentee's Responsibilities

Be sensitive as to when the relationship has run its course

Provide mentor with updates after mentoring relationship is finished

Provide a summative evaluation of the experience

Don't forget to say thank you and give credit where credit is due

Mark the graduation with a celebration

Give back to the profession and volunteer to mentor others

 

When ending a mentoring relationship, remember to thank a mentor for the knowledge and time provided. In the ensuing years, communicate your career progression. A mentoring relationship often evolves into a long-term professional friendship.

Sometimes, after a mentoring relationship begins, it may become apparent that the mentor chosen is not a good match for the mentee's PD [professional development] needs. Perhaps the mentor has extenuating circumstances (for example, increased workload or family issues), or the participants simply cannot communicate effectively. In these cases, it is best for the two to have an honest conversation as to what is working and what is not working; if mentor and mentee cannot reconcile the differences, they should mutually agree to terminate the relationship.

Endnotes

1. Monica C. Higgins and Kathy E. Kram, "Reconceptualizing Mentoring at Work: A Developmental Network Perspective," Academy of Management Review, vol. 26, no. 2 (April 2001), pp. 264?288.

2. Lois J. Zachary, The Mentor's Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000).

3. Patricia Battin, "Diversity and Leadership: Mentoring Builds Leaders of the Future," CAUSE/EFFECT, vol. 20, no. 1 (Spring 1997), pp. 15–17.

Close
Close


Annual Conference
September 29–October 2
View Proceedings

Events for all Levels and Interests

Whether you're looking for a conference to attend face-to-face to connect with peers, or for an online event for team professional development, see what's upcoming.

Close

Digital Badges
Member recognition effort
Earn yours >

Career Center


Leadership and Management Programs

EDUCAUSE Institute
Project Management

 

 

Jump Start Your Career Growth

Explore EDUCAUSE professional development opportunities that match your career aspirations and desired level of time investment through our interactive online guide.

 

Close
EDUCAUSE organizes its efforts around three IT Focus Areas

 

 

Join These Programs If Your Focus Is

Close

Get on the Higher Ed IT Map

Employees of EDUCAUSE member institutions and organizations are invited to create individual profiles.
 

 

Close

2014 Strategic Priorities

  • Building the Profession
  • IT as a Game Changer
  • Foundations


Learn More >

Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good™

EDUCAUSE is the foremost community of higher education IT leaders and professionals.