Quick Guides for Mentees

Keys to a Successful Mentoring Relationship?

Detsky and Baerlocher 8 points of advice for academic mentoring (2007)

  • Determine how you would like to spend your time with the mentor. 
  • Follow through on commitments you make, and follow through with your mentor on commitments they make to you. 
  • Avoid becoming friends with your mentor. Let the friendship grow with time and experience.
  • Do not be afraid to seek guidance from the mentoring program when things aren’t going well for you.
  • Acknowledge your feelings about the end of the formal mentoring assignment.  Keep in touch with your mentor after the assignment has ended and continue to let them know about your accomplishments and progress. 

What else can the mentee do to increase the chances for success?

  • Effort and persistence in selecting a mentor
  • Foster open line of communication
  • Follow through with action items
  • Be prepared for meetings/interactions with mentor
  • Take responsibility for your own development and success
  • Actively listen and ask good questions

Mentorship – What do Mentors Expect Junior Faculty Will Do?

Mentors expect that junior faculty will: 

  1. Meet or make contact in accordance with the agreed upon plan.
  2. Formulate short- and long-term goals including identifying values and a timeline for acquisition of skills and completion of tasks, such as: writing a paper, joining a professional society, applying for a grant, initiating a new clinical or teaching activity, or learning new leadership skills, etc.
  3. Set the agenda for each meeting.
  4. Be prepared for meetings and follow through on recommendations and commitments.
  5. Ask for advice and listen thoughtfully.
  6. Interact in a positive, proactive manner.
  7. Take responsibility for their own development.

How Can Mentees Prepare?

  1. Familiarize yourself with the research and background of your mentor’s research and career. Read their CVs whenever you can.
  2. Get the unwritten information. There are unwritten organizational structures, rules and customs defining the departmental and institutional culture. Respect and become acquainted with the staff and treat them like the professional colleagues they are; they can be valuable sources of information about informal structure. Learn what services are available from the department and institution such as clerical help, release time, research assistance, and financial support.
  3. Recognize the influential people in the department. Be observant and find out which behaviors are valued and which are not.
  4. Be active and energetic. Do not assume that anyone else will look out for your interests.
  5. For those on tenure track, develop a strategy that will guide your progress over the next five years. Make it your responsibility to find out by asking questions. Share the information and your strategies with your peers as a way to build camaraderie and to develop additional sources of information and support. For those not on a tenure track, develop a strategy for promotion and advancement. Again, ask questions about how to achieve your career aims.
  6. Keep careful records of your activities (e.g., research and scholarship, grants written and funded, service activities, teaching and/or mentoring). Scrutinize your own record regularly.
  7. Determine if there are publications that you should avoid publishing in because they are not valued. Try to not waste your time serving on committees that are not valued, or teaching courses that do not strengthen your case for advancement or for tenure. Be sure to seek advice from senior faculty members about what committees to serve on, and then volunteer for those committees.
  8. Seek information, advice, and assistance in developing, implementing, and revising your strategy; do not make major decisions without talking to other people.
  9. Actively seek feedback from colleagues, senior faculty, department chair, or unit director. Recognize that other junior faculty—both at the University of Michigan and elsewhere—are often sources of valuable advice and help too. For example, another junior faculty member may have developed a teaching module that you can adapt for your purposes; or, as a group, junior faculty in a department or across a couple of departments may be able to provide one another peer mentoring; or ask specific administrators or senior faculty to discuss particular issues.
  10. Do not assume that no feedback means there are no problems.
  11. If your position was defined in specific terms when you were hired, be sure you have a copy of the job description. You want to be sure there are no aspects of the job you are expected to do that you don’t recognize.
  12. An annual review should be in writing. If it is negative and you believe the comments are legitimate, you should discuss them with your career advisors, including your chair or director, and plan what you need to do to improve. If you believe a comment is not accurate, provide written materials to refute the evaluation.
  13. Develop your own networks with junior faculty colleagues and others in your field.
  14. Read and discuss any written policies about tenure and/or promotion with your career advisor(s).
  15. Let your career advisors, chair or director, and colleagues know when you have done good work. Be sure that professional information is put into your personnel folder.
  16. Communicate. Failing to communicate is the biggest pitfall for all relationships. Remember that face-to-face meetings can often clear up misunderstandings better than email. Problems need to be discussed as soon as possible.