What expectations should I set for my mentees?

Martha Shenton, PhD
Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry
Professor of Radiology
2008 William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award

 

 

 

 

What expectations should I set for my mentees?

Try to be very clear from the outset what the expectations are that you have for your mentees. If part of their role is to work on projects that are already defined by grants that are funded and they are paid from these grants, then be very clear about what role they will play and what niche they might carve for themselves. Talk with them about their interests so that you can align their interests with the project needs as this will avoid a lot of unnecessary problems in the future. Listen carefully to any hesitations as mentees like to please their mentors and they may be seemingly agreeing to something that in their heart of hearts they really do not want to do. This is why they have to feel comfortable enough to let you know this so that you can help adapt the existing projects to meet where the mentee is coming from. It makes no sense for a mentee to work on a research project where they have really no passionate interest. -- If possible give them an idea and help them develop it so that in the end they feel they own the idea and the project. Other expectations, that they will do their personal best, that you expect them to succeed, and you help them to define what success is. For example, if a mentee says they want to be a full professor in an academic setting then you need to let them know what this involves in terms of productivity, etc. This is a good way to gauge what is realistic as they may not know how difficult it is to have a successful career in academia. There are some mentees who want to be involved but do not want to aspire to be super stars, and that is fine -- meet them where they are and help them to define and develop their goals for themselves. Any expectations of the mentor though must be very clear from the outset and they can be modified over time with the mentee.

 

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