What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is a unique and supportive approach used for professional and personal growth. The concept of mentoring relies on the development of a personal and trusting relationship between two individuals – a mentee and a mentor. It is a very personal relationship.
In essence, mentoring is a form of teaching, and teaching is one of the noblest of all professions.
The future of the world depends upon teaching – GOOD teaching!
The mentee is the driver of the relationship as it is their issues, knowledge and skills that are the focal point for their improvement and growth. The role of the mentor, a more experienced individual, is to guide and encourage them to reflect, and take the action required to achieve improvement.
Many mentees select to have mentors that are external to their workplace or are in a different reporting line of command – although boss-mentor relationships can work with the right people.
When selecting a mentor it is important to know what you want to achieve and who can best help you achieve this. Ask yourself:
- What have they achieved themselves?
- Are they a supportive person?
- Are their beliefs and values aligned with yours?
- Will they challenge you?
Steven Spielberg once said: “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”
Why become a Mentor?
People become mentors for a variety of reasons. Some specific benefits include:
- Provision of a new dimension to your current role – whether it is being a performer, educator, or music administrator.
- Increasing personal and professional networks
- Seeing others develop from your experience(s)
- Assisting music educators and other musicians to grow and learn, thereby providing quality and service to their communities
- Assisting in generating passion and appreciation of music for future musicians
- Gaining insight by seeing yourself, and your volunteer role through your mentee’s eyes
- Develop your own leadership and/or mentoring capabilities
And let’s not forget the personal satisfaction.
What are the Skills of a Mentor?
Mentoring utilises all the skills that you have developed throughout life and your working career.
It is vital that those who agree to be mentors have the right qualities to make the relationship with the mentee work.
If you are thinking of becoming a mentor, you should consider the following before offering to taking on the role:
- Available time – mentoring will require a time commitment so look at your existing time commitments and truly evaluate whether you can spare the time
- Appropriate knowledge and skills – you should have had extensive experience as a music educator, teacher, administrator, conductor and/or performer/ in your main area of expertise
- Listening skills – are you able to actively listen to others, without interrupting while listening and reflecting back on what the mentee is saying
- Patient and supportive – as the relationship is led by the mentee you will need to be prepared to support them. You need to let them reach conclusions at their own pace
- Trustworthy – the issues discussed during mentoring sessions must be treated in the strictest of confidence and therefore the mentee needs to believe that they can trust you
- Be positive about the organisation whether it be a school, university or community organisation and its future direction
What is involved?
Once you have agreed to become a mentor you need to agree with your mentee how the relationship will work.
How do you manage the mentoring process?
Expect a mentee to describe his or her:
- Motivation/Engagement – how they currently motivate and engage with people
- Expectations in relation to the meeting/session
- Consider conflicts such as time commitments, personnel and student interactions and decisions made by others
- Reasons for wanting to learn from you.
Each mentoring relationship will be different. Typically, the process will involve you as the mentor:
- talking about your mistakes as well as your successes
- sharing what you wish you’d known when you were starting out
- assisting the mentee with networking by connecting your mentee to others who can be helpful and supportive
- offering insight into how you make decisions, resolve conflicts and manage your time commitments
- seeing things from your mentee’s point of view while providing feedback from your perspective
As a mentor, you decide when, where and how you want the mentoring process to continue. Think about these questions:
- Do you want to meet on an ad hoc basis or set specific times to meet?
- How often do you want to meet or touch base?
- Are there any issues you do not want to discuss?
- What is considered confidential and what are the boundaries?
Learning to become a music educator has many challenges and the needs of a mentee can be multifaceted ranging from teaching classroom music to building performance groups and programs to conducting international tours. Why not consider finding a mentor who can help you reach your full potential.
In a battery, I strive to maximize electrical potential. When mentoring, I strive to maximize human potential.