High-Performing Mentors

Mentor Expectations

High-performing mentors reflect on their dynamics with their mentees and consider ways to make the relationship collegial, functional, and useful for the mentee, and a rewarding experience for themselves.

Stanford faculty who are mentors to junior colleagues are expected to:

  1. Provide useful, open, trustful, and frequent communication and check-ins;
  2. Regularly initiate contact;
  3. Facilitate the setting of mentee goals that build towards full independence and success as a faculty member at Stanford, in research, teaching, clinical care, and advising students; 
  4. Shed light for the mentee, early and often, on implicit norms related to performance and productivity within the division, department, school, or Stanford more broadly; 
  5. Problem-solve and ‘damage control’ where needed-- for example, in helping the mentee deal with tactical, administrative, or procedural roadblock, mishaps, or issues; and
  6. Encourage openness in the mentee to actively seeking and receiving guidance and suggestions on research, teaching, and advising.

Examples of High-Performing Mentor Behaviors:

  1. Asking open-ended questions in order to understand their mentee’s experiences receiving mentoring. Uses the information to collaboratively articulate and align mutual expectations of the mentoring relationship in the first few meetings.
  2. Allowing for non-transactional interactions to occur; e.g., drop-in/ check-in and initiate conversations informally;
  3. Self-awareness regarding the ways conscious and unconscious assumptions, biases, and backgrounds influence their worldviews, particularly as related to gender, race/ethnicity, national origin, and other identity dimensions.  Mentors reach out to the appropriate staff for advice or preparation; and
  4. Responding promptly and candidly to inquiries from mentees with concrete ideas and perspectives.
  5. Refraining from non-specific, generic and general feedback. 

As the relationship progresses, mentors inspire, enable and foster their mentee’s success by:

  1. Describing their own paths to independence;
  2. Building mentee confidence through encouragement, offering constructive feedback; offering suggestions related to other performance areas; and helping the mentee with objectives;
  3. Promoting their mentee’s professional development by identifying possible resources and mentors at Stanford and arrange introductions if needed;
  4. Nominating their mentee for memberships in national organizations and/or for prestigious speaking engagements, as appropriate;
  5.  When asked, offering advice and helping brainstorm approaches for the mentee to skillfully manage demands, needs, and interests related to his or her trainees, funding agencies, personal commitments, worklife, and other areas.