A model contract
A contract is required to set out the boundaries within which the mentoring relationship will take place. Mentors and mentees would sign the contract at their first meeting. Look at the example content for a contract below.
We agree that we will work together to ensure that the partnership works for both of us. In order to achieve this we will:
- Place the highest priority on our meetings and will only cancel or reschedule on an emergency basis.
- Meet on a weekly basis for the first month with at least one email or telephone contact in addition every week.
- Decide after the first month whether to continue to meet weekly.
- We will meet for a full year unless the goals of the mentee are met before that time.
- We will decide if we will meet informally outside these times for what is deemed as urgent by the mentor.
- Keep our own notes and records and pay particular attention to any action plan requirements.
- We will pre-arrange observation sessions and decide the focus of each observation.
- At the end of each meeting we will take time to develop action items for the following meeting.
- What we discuss will remain confidential between us unless we jointly decide differently.
Don't forget to include areas for the mentor's and mentee's signatures and the date.
The handbook may contain guidelines for the mentor/mentee meetings, for example:
The first meeting
- It does not matter where or when this takes place (over coffee, lunch, on or off site, whatever works best), as long as it happens during the induction period early in the year. The mentor must be responsible for setting up the first meeting, and ensuring that it takes place within the first week of the new academic year, or during the new staff induction session.
- Set aside at least 30 minutes for this initial meeting. The main purpose of the meeting is to get acquainted and may include discovering more about mutual interests and defining each others expectations. See 'Developing a relationship' in 'The mentoring process' section for more ideas. Be sure to exchange telephone numbers, email addresses and, if possible, indicate the best times for each of you to be reached.
- Regularly scheduled meetings help to establish a strong mentoring relationship. Monthly meetings are recommended, at least for the first four to six months and if possible, weekly meetings for the first four weeks. This is an important part of the mentoring process because if mentees and mentors are not meeting regularly, it becomes difficult for mentees to approach their mentors when problems arise.
- After the first four to six months, feel free to meet as required. Some mentees will prefer to continue with regular meetings.
Steps in developing rapport
- Ask open questions - those which begin with who, what, where, how and why.
- Listen actively and reflectively - show by your body language and non-verbal behaviour that you are interested in hearing more.
- Pick up and follow themes - show that you are interested in pursuing discussion topics raised by the other person.
- Self-disclosure - tell them something about yourself without monopolising the conversation.
- Clear, relevant and brief communication - keep the comments brief and to the point.
- Modelling - watch the other person's non verbal behaviour and match their style and pace of language, body movements, breathing and tone of voice.
A conclusion for the handbook may be as proposed below.
Tips for mentors
- Maintain regular contact
- Always be honest
- Avoid being judgemental
- Recognise that you have your own need for support
- Don't expect to have all the answers
- Help your mentee access resources and further support
- Be clear about expectations and boundaries
- Stand back from the issues your mentee raises but work together on them
- Respect confidentiality
- If the relationship falters - hang on in there!
Alred, G., Garvey, B. & Smith, R. (1998)
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