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Faculty Mentoring: Strategies for Mentors and Mentees

Mentoring Resource

Faculty Mentoring

Faculty at all career stages benefit from strategies designed to maintain and increase their productivity and joy in their careers. One of the most important of those strategies is mentoring.

Mentoring is not dependent on personality, but rather on tasks and activities that the mentor and mentee do together.  Early and enduring mentoring is most beneficial; mentoring pairs/teams continue to meet regularly and progress when given "nudging."


Strategies for Mentoring

Effective mentoring allows connections to be strengthen for both mentors and mentees in various ways. According to Webster, a mentor is a "trusted counselor or guide", this means the primary guideline of interactions during this process should rest upon leadership and beneficial counseling. The appropriate time and location is vital when mentoring occurs.

Mentors and mentees may want to consider:

  • Meeting at a quaint location (coffeehouse, go for a relaxing walk, or meet in a remote area in library)

  • Mentor and mentee taking notes during interaction

  • Discussing key points and opinions that occurred during the interaction

  • View related TED talk or documentary together

  • Have conversation regarding TED talk or documentary previously watched

Most importantly:

Always keep in mind, the most important aspect of mentoring is for both individuals to gain beneficial knowledge resulting from mentoring. 

How to Properly Benefit from Your Mentoring Experience

  • Seek out a mentor who has the ability to take you out of your comfort zone. A good mentor does not allow you stay in your comfort zone. Always keep in mind that a good mentor is there to continuously encourage you to keep pushing to improve yourself and your abilities.

  • Seek a mentor who is willing to become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses. It is vital to find a mentor who will complement them and continuously motivate you to be better. It may be helpful to have a mentor who has a completely different knowledge and skill sets from yourself.

  • I have obtained the best person to be my mentor, now what? Now is the time for you to figure out the best strategies to make proper use of your mentor. First thing first, always remember to stay true to who you are. It is important to remain open and allow your mentor the ability to probe into your life to get a better understanding of who you really are. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO OPEN YOURSELF UP!

  • Do not be afraid of asking your mentor questions no matter how invasive to intense you may think they are. Understand that the conversation may not always go exactly the way you may want it to. Learn how to accept that fact and remain open to your mentor.

  • This is the point in your mentor or mentee experience to admit if the relationship is not I line with your goals. Mentee, do not be afraid to ask your mentor if there is another connection they can recommend to you in order to fulfill your goals. Mentors, do not be afraid to admit there may be another connection that can be more beneficial than yourself.


Mentee Strategies for Achieving Objectives


  • Have you identified a specific, objective for the partnership?
  • Are you objectives definite and precise?


  • Are your objectives quantifiable in nature? 
  • Have you decided how to measure success?

Work Plan

  • Do you have an action plan to achieve your objectives?
  • Have you considered the outcome of achieving your objectives?

Reality Check

  • Are your objectives realistic given the circumstances?
  • Have you determined a completion date?
  • Is your timeline realistic?
  •  Will you need additional resource or tools to be successful?

Mentor's Role

  • Will your objectives require your mentor to provide you something other than guidance?
  • How can your mentor be most helpful to you?

Examples of Best Practices

U Michigan

  • Dept. chair and new faculty member develop a mentoring plan addressing teaching, graduate supervision, and research Chairs fill out a section on mentoring in their annual reports.
  • Annual college-level meeting open to all tenure-track faculty to discuss the requirements for tenure and promotion and the P&T process
U Penn 
  • Each school designates a senior faculty person responsible for the management of the faculty mentorship program
  • Specific responsibilities and expectations of the mentor are clearly stated in the school’s policy and distributed to the junior faculty member along with the school’s promotion guidelines
  • Faculty mentoring considered as one of the university citizenship criteria for promoting senior faculty from Associate Professor to Full Professor
Stanford Medical School 
  • Mentor assigned as soon as faculty member is hired; others may be added later by the faculty; mentors meet every six months with mentees