Libraries, the universe and everything

January 12, 2012, 12:03
Filed under: Chartership, CPD | Tags:

Yesterday I attended one of the best training courses I’ve ever experienced – on mentoring – organised by my workplace and facilitated by Peter Renwick. I’m struggling to say exactly why it was so good, as really it was a pretty typical in-house training course – we began with some introductions then worked our way through the syllabus for the day, with a nice balance of theoretical and discussion sessions and practical exercises. The day absolutely flew past – I didn’t look at my watch during the morning session until around 12:30 (following a 9am start), and it was after 5pm before we realised it. In brief, we examined some definitions of mentoring, considered the qualities which lend themselves to being a good mentor, practised asking open questions, discussed what to include in a mentoring contract, and looked at how mentoring works in action.

I think what made the day stand out for me was how very good the trainer was – in addition to obviously knowing his subject extremely well (and being a current practitioner as well as a trainer) Peter was a fantastic communicator, clear and jargon- free. He also created a really comfortable environment in which we all felt able to ask questions and contribute our thoughts, and (most importantly) to get out of our comfort zones in presenting our issues for the live mentoring examples we worked on in the afternoon. We also received lots of feedback during the day, both from Peter and from each other, which really helped instill confidence in our new-found skills, and gave us all food for thought and things to work on improving.

I was keen to attend the course as part of my ongoing development of management skills, and because I like the idea of being able to be a mentor myself someday, but I quickly realised that it was going to help me improve my existing mentoring relationships too. I currently have two mentors – a brand-new one for Chartership and a workplace mentor of around 18 months – and I’ve been conscious for a while that I don’t make the best use of the second of these, but haven’t been able to pin down why, or what to do about it. Things I learned in the training course have really helped me to crystallise the vague ‘this isn’t quite what I want’ feeling, and I’m now looking forward to our next mentoring meeting as I have a much better idea of how to deal with it. It has also made me take a hard look at myself as a mentee, and I realised that I’ve been pretty rubbish in some ways, but now I know what to do to improve!

8 Comments so far
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Sounds brilliant, actually. Plus you have 2 mentors – now I have mentor envy 🙂


Comment by Céline

Thanks Céline – I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by multiple mentors at present, but at least their remits don’t overlap. I’m still grateful to you and your mentor-matching services 🙂

To complete the set I’d quite like a mentee of my own to practise on too but realistically don’t think I’d be much use to anyone at present (though might see about registering with CILIP once I’ve finished my Chartership – now there’s a hostage to fortune…!).


Comment by Emma Davidson

Any tips on how to be a good mentee?



Comment by Tina Reynolds

Hi Tina,

The first thing is to make sure you get the contracting bit right – e.g. the first meeting where you set out the terms and conditions of the mentoring relationship – as you both need to be clear about what the relationship is supposed to help you achieve. After that the process is supposed to be mainly led by the mentee, who should try to come along to meetings prepared to talk about certain issues. You also shouldn’t expect your mentor to tell you what to do or solve your problems for you – ideally they will be able to ask you questions which get you to talk through things so you work out what you need to do for yourself. You also need to remember that you are totally entitled to renegotiate the terms of the contract at any point, so if things aren’t working the way you expected them to in whatever way then you should discuss it with your mentor – if you’ve got a good one they should care about receiving your feedback and do something about it.

Does that help?


Comment by Emma Davidson

Well I’ve asked to be nagged and/or bullied so we shall see!


Comment by Tina Reynolds

I think there has to be a ‘meeting of minds’ in the mentor/mentee relationship. e.g. if you’re looking for an arse kicker there’s no point choosing a mentor that doesn’t believe in deadlines and vice versa! You have to think about what you want to get from the relationship as well.

Hope you’re writing this up for your portfolio… 😉


Comment by jwo79

Yes, absolutely – these are all things which need to be discussed in the contracting stage. It’s also important for both parties to remember that choosing not to enter into a mentoring relationship is not a negative reflection on the other person but rather a recognition that the right fit won’t be achieved at that time – our trainer was keen to emphasise this kind of practicality which I found quite reassuring.

So far most of what I’m amassing for my portfolio is being documented here – I can just submit a link to this blog, right?!! 😉


Comment by Emma Davidson

[…] blogged about mentoring as part of the 23 things programme last year  and after attending a training course in January  but wanted to return to this subject as I have since taken the second part of […]


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