Mentoring Matters by Lisa J Lucas, Ed.D.
Mentors are guides that are willing to provide encouragement and support to another colleague. Mentors have your best interest at heart; and can be trusted with your career concerns and challenges. The benefits having a mentor are listed below.
A mentor can help you:
- Achieve: Mentees report greater career satisfaction, more promotions and are more likely to mentor others. Mentors can assist in goal setting, action planning, and provide accountability in the achievement of goals.
- Collaborate: Collaboration is the key to productivity. Whether you collaborate with your mentor or another colleague, working together saves time, helps boost creativity, and reduces feelings of isolation.
- Contribute: Stronger professional identity and more substantial contributions to the institution and the profession are outgrowths of a strong mentoring relationship. Often, mentees that have been mentored become mentors themselves in subsequent years.
- Cultivate confidence: Those mentees who have the support of their mentor develop a sense of efficacy and tend to not suffer from the “imposter syndrome”.
- Focus: A focused research agenda boosts productivity and helps align the teaching, scholarship, and service components of the job description. A mentor can help a new faculty member consolidate their varying interests and integrate.
- Network: Networking is connected to both immediate and long-term benefits. A solid mentorship can reduce social isolation and stress. A mentor can introduce a new faculty member to critical stakeholders and help foster new partnerships and widen a new faculty member’s circle of friends.
- Reflect: A mentor can also be a coach that provides constructive feedback on instructional delivery, classroom routines and procedures that enable a mentee to reflect on instructional delivery. In addition, mentors can provide valuable editing of manuscripts to assist in the publication process.
- Share: Sharing syllabi, resources and advising procedures can help a new faculty member save time and effort by not reinventing the wheel.
- Socialize: New faculty benefit from supportive friendship and collegial support. Strong interpersonal relationships are needed to learn the academic culture and help foster healthy work/life balance. A mentor can be a confidential sounding board; this helps alleviate work stress and allows a safe place for mentees to seek guidance, friendship, and support.
- Steer: A veteran professor can help you determine the most beneficial service opportunities, identify the academic courses that are most aligned with your area of expertise, and help you wisely choose research projects that will provide the most utility.
The mentoring literature indicates that new faculty who has the help of a mentor fare better as scholars and experience higher confidence and morale. Mentoring is one way in which new faculty can acquire the skills needed for a successful academic career. This top 10 brief was sent to my trusted mentor for input, just one more example of the benefits of having a mentor.
© Lisa J Lucas
Dr. Lisa J. Lucas is an Assistant Professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She is currently chair of the faculty mentoring program at the University. Please visit her website at www.ljcoachingandconsulting.com.
And as a college or university faculty member, you have many opportunities for success and failure. If you would like additional tips, tools, and techniques that you can use to support your successes, then you will want to access the The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors a step by step guide that will help you have a successful year and a compelling career as an academic.