Hva er mentoring

Mentoring relationships have proven to be an excellent way to enhance professional growth, particularly in academia. Mentoring is a highly interactive process and requires strong commitment from both the mentor and the protégé.

The goals for the Mentoring Program are:
• Help and inspire associate professors in their career development. UiS want to encourage them to become professors
• Contribute to more published scientific articles
• Organizational learning
• Increase understanding of different scientific fields and diversity in competence
• Increased understanding of gender and diversity issues

Mentoring Past, Present and Future
Since the days of the Trojan War, we have many accounts of mentoring in fact and fiction, science, medicine, business, education and law. Most of us can recall some famous mentor/protégé pairs: Socrates and Plato, Haydn and Beethoven, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. In each of these cases, a “senior” person who had garnered respect and an amount of prestige and power within her/his field, took a “junior” person under the wing to teach, encourage and provide an extra push to ensure that junior individual’s success. Not inconsequentially, the success of the junior person ultimately reflected on the senior person, further adding to her/his prestige.

Mentoring is one of the major processes through which scholars replace themselves and through which flexibility or openness to ideas and creativity or the manipulation of phenomena can be maintained. Mentors, however, are almost always senior persons within their fields. They are chosen specifically for their ability to use the power of their positions and experience to develop the careers of those less powerful and experienced. A mentor has moved beyond preoccupation with self to foster the growth of a developing professional.

The definition of mentor often means different things to different people but in his book The Seasons of a Man’s Life, David Levinson wrote that the mentoring relationship is one of the “most complex and developmentally important” in a person’s life. Levinson did not see the relationship in formal terms, such as “teacher/student” or “boss/subordinate,” but rather in terms of its character and its functions. Several functions are considered integral in the mentoring relationship: teaching, sponsoring, guidance, socialization into a profession, provision of counsel and moral support. Of all of these, Levinson believed that the most important function of a mentor was assisting in the realization of a dream.

Margo Murray, in Beyond the Myths and Magic of Mentoring writes that “mentoring is a deliberate pairing of a more skilled or more experienced person with a less skilled or less experienced one, with the mutually agreed goal of having the less skilled person grow and develop specific competencies.

The mentoring relationship is, at its most fundamental, a multifaceted collaboration between a junior professional and a senior professional with the primary goal being the nurturing of the junior professional’s development. In virtually every profession imaginable, a mentoring relationship is considered an excellent route toward ensuring not only a profession’s vitality, but growth of the workers within that profession. Since the days of guilds, we have recognized the synergy of the “master/novice” combination. Many industrial professions still use the apprenticeship model. In 1979, the business world turned its attention to revitalizing the concept of mentoring when an article in the Ireported that mentored executives earn more money at a younger age, are better educated and more likely to follow initial career goals, and enjoy greater career satisfaction. Women with mentors have more publications in peer reviewed journals, spend more time in research, and report greater career satisfaction.

Certainly such research indicates that women and minority faculty could benefit from the assistance of a senior professional who would protect the interests and guide the career path of these junior professionals so that they may achieve success in their own right.

Suggestions for Mentors: “Why be a Mentor?”
As with many professions today, academics are being asked to do more with less. Faculty are required to juggle teaching, research and service requirements. On an average day, academics teach students, supervise some aspect of an ongoing grant, manage, administrate, attend meetings and advise students. The basic academic’s average day involves gathering data on current research grants, planning for the next grant application, advising students, teaching students and preparing manuscripts. Take on the added responsibility of advancing someone else’s career? Who has time? But research has shown that the mentor gains as much as the protégé from the relationship.

Mentors are guides. They lead us along the journey of our lives. We trust them because they have been there before. They embody our hopes, cast light on the way ahead, interpret arcane signs, warn us of lurking dangers and point out unexpected delights along the way.

Mentoring is a developmental stage in one’s professional life and since each developmental stage is crucial for growth, failure to serve as a mentor can lead to stagnation and internal conflict. By becoming a mentor, you have the opportunity to affect the future - you leave a part of yourself in everyone you mentor, your ideals, your ethics and your professionalism. Long after you’ve retired from the world of grants, publications, and students your work will still be going on in those you’ve guided as a mentor.

What are some of the characteristics of a mentor? The answers are as varied as the definition of “mentor,” but writers on the subject do point out some common characteristics that set a gold standard.

Characteristics of a Mentor
• Encourage and demonstrate confidence in your protégé.
• Recognize your protégé as an individual with a private life and value her/him as a person.
• Ensure a positive and supportive professional environment for your protégé.
• Don’t deny your own ignorance.
• Be liberal with feedback.
• Encourage independent behavior, but be willing to invest ample time in your protégé.
• Provide accessibility and exposure for your protégé within your own professional circle both within and outside of the immediate university circle.
• Illustrate the methodology and importance of “networking” in academia
• Allow your protégé to assist you with projects, papers and research whenever possible and be generous with credit.

Your relationship with your protégé can take on many different characteristics. Some may see the role requiring active prompting and occasionally even pushing to encourage success. Others may choose a more Socratic position, exposing the protégé to many options, even offering opinions, but allowing the protégé to follow his or her own path. Whichever role you choose as a mentor, one factor is important above all others: while the relationship is not a marriage, you and your protégé should respect one another and share mutual regard

The mentor/protégé relationship, while occurring in a professional setting, is expected to go beyond simple professional boundaries. Try not to reinforce the idea of compartmentalizing the work life and home life. Your protégé is probably struggling with that conflict already. As a mentor you must recognize that your protégé has a life outside of work and success in that life will have an impact on professional success. Help your protégé learn to integrate his or her many roles. Bolster, don’t berate, weak areas. Reinforce, don’t ignore, strong areas.

Suggestions for Protégés: “Do I Need a Mentor?”
Obviously, our answer to this question is a resounding “YES!” Literature on the subject of mentoring and junior faculty development in academia concurs. The demands of academia are many and often so diverse as to seem counter to one another. On top of this, you’re expected to interact with your colleagues and senior faculty in such a way that knowledge of political intricacies is imperative.
Three essential areas in which new faculty need to be socialized:
Adopting academic values;
Managing an academic career;
Establishing and maintaining a productive network of colleagues.

Characteristics of a Protégé
• Eagerness to learn and a respect and desire to learn from the person selected as the mentor;
• Seriousness in the relationship;
• Taking the initiative in the relationship, especially in the beginning - be politely insistent about your desire for a mentor;
• Flexibility and an understanding of this senior professional’s demanding schedule (you’ll be there one day)
• Promptness for all appointments;
• Feedback, even if nothing is requested;
• Interest: your mentor will ask questions about your personal and professional life in an effort to get to know you as a whole person — do the same with your mentor. He or she also has a life outside of the institution and knowing something about it can help you communicate better;
• Respect: your mentor is there to help you in your career by pointing out the stepping stones, not being one; never forget the time and effort this person is taking to offer you a smoother path on the way to success.

A mentor is a unique individual to you. Because the relationship differs from those you have with others in your department, you may feel more relaxed and less constrained by professional protocol. This is acceptable to a point, but make certain that you respect the relationship. Unless otherwise told, consider that the information your mentor shares with you is between the two of you. From the first steps of choosing your mentor to the final days of independence and your own career success, your mentoring experience will probably move through the stages of most senior/junior or master/protégé relationships: tentativeness, eagerness to please, identification with the mentor, dependence, a “second nature” comfort in communication with the mentor, and finally, independence. This relationship could be the most important one in your academic career.

Sist oppdatert av (08.02.2008)

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