Professional Development For Mentors

Mentoring is not directive or authoritarian in its ethos. Rather it is enabling, empowering and releasing. No-one begins as a perfect mentor. Most learn on the job and through experience.

T. Horsfall

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is essential for mentors. The suggested activities below have been designed to help you develop your mentoring skills and steward them intentionally and effectively.

Level 1: Learning about formal mentoring

  • Ask an experienced mentor to help you grow in your mentoring skills.
  • Read an article on cross-cultural mentoring and explore some websites that offer resources on mentoring. Check out our Resources page for inspiration.
  • Read a book on mentoring. You might want to see what is recommended on our Books page. Discuss your questions and reflections with your mentor. Explain how the book offers relevant insight for your work.
  • Reflect on the Personal Skills Inventory (FR: Inventaire des compétences personnelles), ask someone who knows you well for feedback. Discuss what you have learnt through this process with your mentor.
  • Explore a few personality tests (MBTI, DiSC, Enneagram, StrengthsFinder…), reflect on what you are learning about yourself. Discuss with your mentor.
  • Choose a metaphor that best describes mentoring for you. Write a reflection on why you chose that particular metaphor and why it is especially meaningful for you at this time. If you share your reflection with us, we will be happy to post it on our blog.
  • Reflect on your previous experiences in mentoring (formal or informal) and explain how they have shaped you. Assess your strengths and weaknesses as a future mentor, identify 5 strengths and 3 weaknesses. Discuss with your mentor how to work on the skills where improvement is most needed.
  • It is important for a mentor to be sensitive and supportive. Make a list of ways that demonstrate sensitivity and support towards a mentee in your cross-cultural context. Check with a friend from another culture whether your examples would work well in his/her culture. Discuss and note your reflections in a journal.

Level 2: Starting to practice formal mentoring under supervision

  • Reflect on the Mentor Traits and Skills (FR: Caractères et compétences d’un mentor) worksheet. Identify 5 strengths and 3 areas in which you would like to grow. With the help of your mentor, design a plan to work on those 3 areas you would like to develop.
  • Learn about coaching skills that can be helpful to you as a mentor (active listening, powerful questions, setting goals, giving feedback etc.)
  • Start making a list of powerful questions that can be asked in different situations. Start memorising a couple of them so that you may learn to use them effectively in new situations. If you need inspiration, you might want to look at this article on the use of questions in mentoring/consulting situations.
  • Under the supervision of your mentor, mentor one person in a specific skill for a short period of time. Ask your mentee for feedback on your mentoring. Identify 2 areas of growth and with the help of your mentor, design a plan to develop your skills in those areas.
  • Watch videos of difficult conversations between people. Analyse them and suggest ways to improve the communication between them in order to facilitate better interaction.
  • Look at mentoring case studies and discuss how the mentor could have supported the mentee better in those situations.
  • Write a personal, reflective case study about a mentoring experience. Analyse one aspect of mentoring in it and then present it for discussion in your peer-group.
  • Ask your mentee to give you examples of concrete ways you can be of support and encouragement to him/her.
  • Read a couple of articles about Dialogue Education and learning styles. Reflect on your own preferred learning style. Discuss with your mentee and with your mentor how what you have learned from your reading applies to your mentoring relationship(s). Note and explore cultural differences/preferences where you are aware of any.
  • If you work in a cross-cultural setting, explore how mentoring is done traditionally in the cultures around you. Note what you can learn from each culture’s approach to mentoring and how you can apply and share those insights in your context.
  • Write a short, personal reflection that explores how you have grown in the past few months in your self-awareness and in your understanding of your relationships with others. Reflect on your development as an emerging mentor. Reflect on your mentoring experiences, motivations, attitudes and emotions, both positive and negative. Discuss your written reflection with your mentor.

Level 3: Working as a primary mentor

  • Practice mentoring in a variety of settings with mentees coming from different backgrounds. Keep a reflective journal of 5-10 meetings (re. educational approach, challenges, tensions, cross-cultural issues, authority style, coping strategies etc.)
  • Experiment with different ways of formal mentoring (not just one-to-one).
  • Write up and evaluate 2-3 critical incidents in your mentoring practice. Discuss with your mentor.
  • Help others learn about formal mentoring.
  • Advocate for a formal mentoring program in your organisation.
  • Having learnt from your own professional and personal development journey, help others reflect on their unique contributions and their potential areas of growth in the workplace.
  • Participate in a coaching workshop.
  • Read a book on cross-cultural coaching/mentoring. Note your observations from the cultures you are familiar with. How can you apply this new knowledge to your mentoring? Consider how you might share what you have learnt with others in your organisation.
  • Read one book per year on mentoring/coaching/dialogue education/communication/intercultural studies. Share your insights with others in your context(s).
  • Create tools and/or teaching materials that can be used by others to support formal mentoring relationships. — We would be happy to share your work on this site so that many others may benefit from your creativity and expertise.

Level 4: Working as an experienced mentor who advises other mentors

  • Record and analyse a 30-min interaction between you as mentor and one of your mentees. Reflect on what you can learn from the recording. Write a reflection on lessons learnt and concrete changes you want to make. Support your arguments by using quotes from the recording.
  • Having learnt from your own development journey as a mentor, publish your research and insights from your own context to make them more widely available.
  • Continue to create tools and/or teaching materials (especially in languages other than English) that can be used by others to support formal mentoring programs in intercultural settings. — We would be happy to share your work on this website so that many people may benefit from your creativity, wisdom and expertise.
  • Lead a community of practice / Contribute in a community of practice on topics related to mentoring.
  • Ask one of your mentees to co-present or co-author with you.
  • Support the formal mentoring program in your organisation. Be a champion for the initiative.
  • Facilitate mentor-training workshops in a variety of contexts.
  • Mentor other mentors. Help them have a bigger impact in their own contexts.

Feedback: What activities have helped you the most in your development as a mentor? What could be added to this list of suggested activities? Please comment below.

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