We were pleased to have Dr. Donna Holland speak to our Rotary Club on the topic, “How to be a Good Mentor.”
Dr. Holland graduated medical school in 1978 and after completing her residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry, she began her medical practice in our community in 1983. In addition to her private practice, she has served in leadership roles in local and national hospital and day treatment programs and was active in pharmaceutical treatment research.
Since 2012 has been Affiliate Assistant Professor at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at FAU. In addition, over the years Dr. Holland has had leadership roles in many local community organizations since 2015 serving as Director of Mentorship at the Eda and Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation.
There’s a long history of people mentoring others going back to Greece where Plato was supposedly a mentor to Socrates. In the middle ages, the role of mentor/apprentice helped build quality in work via oversight and feedback. Over time, the word mentor has become synonymous with the terms trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person. The purpose of the mentor relationship is to promote the growth & development of the mentee.
Typically, mentor roles and tasks may include:
- Becoming a source of general encouragement and support
- Advocating for the mentee
- Coaching specific skills and behaviors that are needed
- Evaluating and giving feedback regarding the mentee’s behavior
- Being a positive role model
- Serving as a confidant who will help the mentee solve problems and conflicts
- Identifying additional outside resources to assist mentee and their family in dealing with hardships of a variety of types.
- Guiding and inspiring the mentee through transitions
- The primary emphasis is on the “relationship.”
- The mentor should strive first to make the “personal connection” before getting down to business.
Successful mentors teach their mentees the “problem- solving process,” rather than to merely give them the answer to a particular problem. College students who have mentors have better academic performance and higher retention rates.
What Mentors are NOT:
- Mentors are NOT there to do the work for the student; you are there to help them do their work better.
- Mentors should NOT attempt to personally handle complex problems for which they are unqualified.
- Mentors do not manage others; they help mentees learn how to manage themselves.
- Mentored college students have better academic performance and higher retention rates (staying in school).
Some of the appropriate goals for a mentor program include:
- To ease students’ transitional experience from high school to college
- To help students make connections academically, socially, and in extracurricular activities. Note: Research also indicates students who are more engaged in activities on their campus have better academic performance and better retention rates.
- To provide students direct support and encouragement from a non-judgmental adult
- To help the student take responsibility for his/her skills and behavior
- To increase student academic success, retention and graduation rates
- To assist students in achieving career goals (goal setting, exploring career options, interviewing practice, etc.)
- To assist in guiding students in dealing with difficult issues that arise in their academic, social or family life.
- To help the mentee to take the lead in setting goals
- To help them achieve their goals.
Try to improve your genuine listening skills by the following:
- Focus on the speaker – both visually and hearing
- Provide open-ended questions – be curious but not demanding
- Do not interrogate; silence is OK
- Check to make sure you understand, i.e. “Let me make sure I understand that you said.”
- Remember that 60% of communication is listening
- Remember, you only remember about 25% of what you hear.
- After you form a trusting relationship, you may give feedback as appropriate on specific issues, for example, how they come across to others.
- Ask mentee how he/she prefers to get feedback
- Thank your student for taking the risk to be honest with you
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