Reasons for attending the workshop
I thought this workshop and information session would be a useful refresher to what is involved in being a good mentor. Also, I’m thinking of becoming a mentor for certification and chartership candidates. The workshop was held at the impressive Mitchell Library in Glasgow, so I got to visit another Scottish city too, which was a bonus.
Format of the day
The format of the day was an overview of mentoring in the morning and then a look at the CILIP Mentoring for Professional Registration stuff in the afternoon. It was apparent that both facilitators, Val Walker and Alison Turriff, have a vast amount of experience and knowledge in this area and so were ideally placed to take us through the day.
I was pleased that activities were included to reinforce what we were learning, but also so that we could work with other participants. We were a small group with experience from different sectors and stages of career, and over the day it felt like we developed a good working dynamic, which always helps when faced with tasks to discuss and complete.
The most relevant content for me came in the morning session when we looked at learning styles and powerful questioning. Getting an opportunity to ask powerful questions was as entertaining as much as it was a good learning experience! It’s funny how different situations can bring out a different approach to sort of the same thing. When working on the Help Desk in a university library for example, or meeting with a student starting out on their dissertation, knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them in order to get them thinking about how they might approach their literature searching seemed second nature. In this situation however, I really had to think about the way I put questions to the person in the mentee role, that made them meaningful and helped them to explore their situation/scenario in more detail.
Similarly giving some thought to feedback was also useful, particularly on how to give constructive feedback. I feel in some circumstances I can be a little too blunt with my words and in others I worry about upsetting or offending people, so I perhaps can lean to the positive side of things a little too much rather than be totally realistic and honest, which ultimately isn’t helpful to anyone. Balance I think is key here and learning ways in which to give feedback is certainly helpful. I can also see how this is relevant not only in a mentor/mentee situation, but also in the workplace with colleagues too.
Discussion on what makes a good mentor was beneficial. We all had a lot to contribute on this as we each thought about a time when we’d had a good experience being mentored ourselves. Here are some of the qualities we identified as making a good mentor:
- A good listener
All common sense really, but putting all of these qualities into practice I think takes patience and commitment, again, not only in a mentor/mentee situation, but in other life stuff too.
We had a look at The Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) and discussed how we might use this ourselves as well as with our candidates. Again, this was a useful refresher for me and I intend to look at that in more detail.
The content and activity of the morning session was more relevant to me. The information given in the afternoon session, while it was useful to be guided through, is easily accessible on the CILIP VLE.
A recurring thought throughout the day, a concern really, is that I don’t have enough career experience to become a mentor. After a brief conversation with one of the Mentor Support Officers and further reflection over the weekend; what I feel I could contribute outweighs my concern of not knowing enough or having enough professional experience.
Becoming a mentor
After thinking on it over the weekend, I have sent in my application to be a mentor for certification and chartership candidates so we’ll see what happens from there. If you are a certification or chartership candidate looking for a mentor, then get in touch via the blog or via Twitter.
If this is something you are wanting to find out more about then have a read of the Becoming a Mentor information on the CILIP website.