Chartership Chat 12th April 2012: The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

Time: 18:30-19:30

Participants: ~30

No. of Posts: 285

This time chartership chat discussed the relationships between mentors and mentees. Around 30 people took part in the chat and it was nice to see a good number of mentors also joining in to give tips and opinions. @joeyanne has archived the chat here:


How and when do you choose a mentor?

You can choose a mentor either before or after you register, but it may take a little while to find someone and emailing as soon as you have filled in the registration forms is a good idea.

Some had chosen mentors from the same institution or someone they knew which meant they would have someone straight away. Referring to the mentor list on the CILIP website for guidance is another option. It is always worth sending out an email if you find someone you would really like to mentor you, even if it says they are full, as the list isn’t always 100% up to date. Personally I found mine before registering using the mentor list and it took me a couple of months to find someone available.

A suggestion from @LucileDeslignes was that perhaps CILIP could offer a bit more information on mentors to make the choosing process a bit easier for new candidates. I had initially been more attracted to mentors with profile information on the CILIP page as it gave a brief insight into their career history and interests as well as making it more than just a list of names and emails.

Some took the route of meeting with a mentor informally prior to any commitment to have a chat and express their needs and wants. Both parties were then free to decide if they think it will work. @MariaCotera was particularly keen on this method and said she likes to get to know her mentees before either side commits and lets them decide if she is the right mentor for them.

So should you choose a mentor in your own sector or from outside it? Well again it is up to you, there are no rules. There were a lot of positive comments about having a mentor from another sector as it gave both mentors and mentees insight into each other’s work and can give new perspectives.

Another option was to have a mentor in the same sector who had recent experience of another or even to go with someone from a different sector that may still have overlap with your own. There were still plenty of people who were happy with someone from their own institution though a couple commented that conversation did drift towards work on occasion rather than chartership.

@johnmcmahon31 would prefer to gain more direction within the sector before branching out to others.

@nickiflh did point out that if you do end up with a mentor you don’t get along with there is always the option to change. There is a form from CILIP which can be filled in so you shouldn’t feel trapped with one you don’t share interests with.

Keeping in Contact

So, how often should you have contact with each other and is it better to meet face to face or communicate by phone or email?

This is very dependent on your own needs. It is best to keep in regular contact with your mentor even if it isn’t face to face. Skype seemed quite popular for covering long distances and for contacting mentees abroad as well as emails and phone calls.  A lot of us felt that face to face meetings gave a deadline to work towards. @tinamreynolds commented she prefers to be able to pass papers around and scribble and that monthly meetings keep her on track while @emilylovedhim only met her mentor 4 times and thinks quality is more important than quantity.

I like deadlines to work towards to give me that extra kick up the backside, even if it is just to send something via email. It is really up to you and how you work so make sure you make your needs known when you start up with your mentor. Again, emphasis on the importance of setting out your expectations from the start.

The conversation dipped briefly into how to share work and documents with mentors. Popular choices were Google Docs and Dropbox. Wikis were mentioned but @joeyanne felt they could be a pain to update. Then there is always the simple, word document and email combination. It is also worth thinking about whether you will be doing much of your work while travelling and if mobile devices will restrict you in some way.

First time meetings and expectations

Your first meeting with your mentor is a great time to fill in the agreement forms if you haven’t already done so. This will allow both parties to make it clear what they expect of the relationship and to set out some initial rules. It might be a good idea to have a draft of your PPDP ready so you can go through it together and this could act as a possible icebreaker too.

@johnmcmahon31 asked, “what should you expect from a mentor?” Responses included:

  • Perspective
  • Support
  • Encouragement
  • Motivation
  • Clarification
  • A critical friend
  • Chocolate

The discussion moved on to who should be leading the relationship and it was suggested that it should be the mentee who tells the mentor what they want and the mentor then guides them. One important point to remember though is that while a mentor will be a guide, it is up to the individual to take control of their own development. But if you feel you would like to be pushed more you can always ask your mentor to be stricter, they can’t make that decision for you though!

Mentors were asked what they got out of the relationship. @MariaCotera said for her is was about giving back to the profession and getting a fresh perspective. Inspiration from mentees was also commented on. @joeyanne stated that mentors will get knowledge of your area as well as you do theirs (if different from your own) and developing mentoring skills is useful for managers. A very valid point is that chartership is a two way learning process and mentors are as likely to get something out of it as mentees are.


Important things to remember:

  •  The mentor/mentee relationship is a personal one and it is important to make sure both sides are suited to each other. Different people work in different ways.
  • Draw up a mentor agreement. Forms available from the CILIP website. This means everyone knows what to expect from the outset.
  • Mentors are guides! It is up to the mentees to do the work and be proactive.
  • Both mentors and mentees can learn and benefit from the relationship, remember mentees: you have something to give too and your mentor will likely benefit as much as you do!

The next chat will be on Thursday 26th April and will be on the CILIP Future Skills work. Hopefully see you there!


4 thoughts on “Chartership Chat 12th April 2012: The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

  1. Great! Just came accross the right up of last chat via Twitter. What do I need to do to join the next chat event? Thanks, Sonia

    1. Hi Sonia,

      The next chat will be on the 26th April from 6.30pm – 7.30pm. You just need to follow the hashtag #chartership on Twitter :) The next topic is the CILIP future skills work. Hope to see you there.


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