What should I do if a mentoring relationship is not working well?

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

 

 

 

 

What should I do if a mentoring relationship is not working well?

Here I would look within myself first to see where I might not have heard the mentee. I would also reach out to the mentee to meet with them and to try to determine where things are not working and what can be done. In some cases a mentee is not happy with the choices s/he has made and instead of "owning" this s/he is putting the fault to others in the lab or onto the mentor. This is more difficult to deal with and rather than getting into a struggle, it is best to ask how s/he would like to see their role in the lab or their role in the work force. Often in cases like this the person will begin to talk about their concerns that might really involve not wanting what they thought they had wanted and you can begin to help them think about what might be better suited for them.  One hopes though that if one follows the general principal of keeping the mentees goals, needs, and aspirations as the central focus of the mentor-mentee relationship that this will minimize situations where the mentor relationship is not working well. The other key point is don't wait if you sense things are going in the wrong direction – bring up concerns early so they do not fester.

 

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