Being a Mentor

Your role as a mentor is a critical component of the mentee’s success. You may be the first faculty member the mentee has to help them navigate UC Davis Health as well as help them to focus on their professional and personal development.

As a mentor it is critical that you:

  • Listen to your mentee's goals
  • Provide your mentee with guidance based on their expressed goals
  • Help mentee evaluate if their goals are realistic and help them set timelines for goal completion
  • Encourage mentee to complete a vision statement and an individual development plan (IDP) to help articulate their goals
  • Encourage your mentee to provide you with notes of your meetings so that you keep focused on their goals and timelines
  • Work with mentees on time management. Refer them to time management resources and help them prioritize their work (UC Davis mentees have indicated they wanted help with time management).
  • Find out if your mentee wants information on work-life integration/balance and refer them to resources
  • Look for opportunities to showcase your mentee's work
  • Help your mentee network and consider nominating them for an award

Mentor Guidelines

Be a role model — Seek to be a role model versus solving your mentee’s technical issues, providing job counseling or getting involved in matters beyond your mentee’s personal and professional development.

Get help — If you are having challenges with a mentee, consider other ways to help your mentee. Options may include co-mentoring, a group approach, team-based mentoring or peer-group mentoring.

Be involved — Be involved with your mentee but always be mindful of your professional relationship.

If you are having professionalism issues with your mentee: 

  • Seek help from the director of the training program, the department chair or vice-chair for research, if you are in the same department, the Mentoring Academy for Research Excellence, Academic Personnel, your own mentors, or the UC Davis Ombuds Office
  • Some issues will rise to the level of lapses of professionalism and these can be challenging. Seek help and guidance through the Physician Wellbeing Committee

Good Mentor Habits

  • Be the best help to the mentee that you can be
  • Assist with finding additional mentors for your mentee
  • Don’t compete with your mentee; if you are, it isn’t a good match.
  • Understand that the needs of mentees change over time, depending on life circumstances and current rank
  • Consider mentoring someone who is different from you. This will afford the opportunity of reciprocity in the mentoring relationship — you may learn a LOT from your younger/different colleague.
  • Ask your mentee for feedback. Encourage your mentees to complete a formal evaluation of you using the mentoring evaluation form and include the form in your merit and advancements packet.

The Mentoring Team

  • Mentors are a part of the mentoring team
  • A mentoring team is a mosaic providing multidisciplinary expertise, skills, and outlook
  • A mentoring team should be established within the first six months; however, identifying the right personal fit for a mentee can take time.
  • Team composition should reflect a mentee’s career interests and optimally include two faculty members with expertise in your research interests, but also an “external” mentor for career development and/or work-life integration issues with whom you have minimal potential conflict of interest (e.g., not a co-author or co-investigator with you and without a research or financial relationship)
  • Team mentors can change with time, as needs and relationships change
  • If a mentee's goal is to obtain a K-award, they should consider mentors with a history of R01 funding and a track record of working with other trainees who have achieved successful, independently funded grants

Team Meetings

  • Schedule is a minimum of one contact (individual meeting and/or laboratory meeting) every two weeks
  • Hold group mentoring or "work in progress" meetings
  • Meet with entire mentoring team at least once every year
  • Establish meeting frequency early on
  • Establish mode of communication and for what type of task (e.g., Zoom, phone, email, in person)
  • Prepare for and make good use of each other's time
  • Establish explicit goals (short and long term)

Mentors are advised to keep notes of meetings and develop a simple report afterwards. Mentees are also asked to take meeting notes and share them with their mentor. Mentee notes include topics discussed, goals, accomplishments, joys, frustrations, self-evaluation, and a record of who is responsible for carrying out tasks.

Mentors should provide regular feedback to mentees on their progress, accomplishments and areas for improvement. Ask mentees to conduct self-evaluation as well. Mentees should share brief meeting reports with mentors. Include topics discussed, goals, accomplishments, joys, frustrations, self-evaluation.