Spring 2003 Workshop Summary
How to Find a Mentor, How to Be a Mentor, and How to Set Up Mentoring Agreements
presented by Maria Coughlin
May 2, 2003
Maria Coughlin, a medical editor and indexer for over 20 years, is president of Coughlin Indexing Services, Inc. in Annapolis, MD, an indexing "sweatshop" that has eight full-time freelance indexers on staff. Maria has mentored over a dozen indexers who now have their own full-time freelance indexing businesses. Maria presented a two-hour workshop to the New England chapter meeting held at the Morse Institute Library in Natick, MA.
Maria explained that mentoring is a relationship between a "more knowing: mentor and a "less knowing protégé, which includes a content-oriented style of clarification. She said that mentoring is not coaching, supervision or advice-giving. Mentoring has a narrower scope than supervision and does not include performance evacuation, but rather facilitates the transfer of knowledge. Coaching has even a narrower scope, because it is aimed at developing a specific skill but not so much the transfer of knowledge and attitudes.
The mentor has many roles: advisor, teacher, role model, friend, collaborator, partner, catalyst, ally, strategist, and leader. A common element is feedback from the mentor to the protégé. Maria went over a list of benefits to being mentored and to being a mentor. The benefits to the mentor, in particular, are less tangible but are part of personal and professional growth. Mentoring functions were also listed. These include coaching, protecting, sponsoring, role modeling, encouraging, advising, and explaining.
The presentation then went on to discuss the stages of mentoring. These include identification of the protégé's interests and needs, developing a plan or agreement, execution of the plan, and ongoing evaluation of the plan's effectiveness.
Maria also provided tips and advice on how to locate a mentor. This involves identifying one's goals and asking the right questions to a prospective mentor, before actually asking for the mentorship relationships.
She discussed the components of mentoring and mentoring relationships, such as an encouraging, supportive, flexible, and respectful behavior of the mentor toward the protégé; and the need of the protégé to respect the mentor's time, be receptive to feedback, ask questions, and willingness to be self-directed. Maria also went over some of the challenges of mentoring, such as time, role confusion, criticism, mismatch, termination, and negative feedback Finally, she provided a checklist for both the mentor and the protégé.