Date of Last Revision: 26th July 2012.
What is mentoring at WYGU?
Mentoring through the WYGU network links people for learning and career development. A mentor facilitates personal and professional growth in someone else by sharing the knowledge and insights that have been learned through the years. All mentoring on WYGU takes place as ‘e-mentoring’.
How is e-mentoring different to regular mentoring?
At WYGU we believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the benefit of either having or being a mentor. Unfortunately, mentoring is generally perceived as being incredibly resource intensive, which acts as a barrier to many people who think they cannot afford the time to either become a mentor, or to find one for themselves. ‘e-mentoring’ is essentially a slimmed down version; it is far less time-consuming than face-to-face mentoring and is completely free. Additionally, by using social networking as the delivery vehicle, users can have multiple mentors (or mentees) for a broader and more rounded mentoring experience. E-mentoring takes place directly through the WYGU site and research has shown that ‘computer-mediated interaction’ makes participants more willing to offer honest feedback, thereby improving the value of the relationship.
What’s in it for me to be a mentor?
As well as the knowledge that you are helping others find career happiness, you will also be able to show the world just how great you are through the PSR points you receive for all the good advice you offer. PSR stands for Personal Social Responsibility, and PSR points are a public display and recognition of how much people value your knowledge and time, received as thank you from each person you mentor and for every bit of help you give to the community as a whole. The points can be seen in your profile information (you’ll see a feedback rating section where points will add up, the more advice you give) and you can use this rating to show your manager, recruitment consultant, peers, etc the valuable contribution you've made. Being a mentor can lead to your own career advancement, it gives you fresh ideas through contact with different people - mentors usually get a sense of personal satisfaction by watching someone they mentor grow. Mentors have been shown to also sharpen their own leadership and interpersonal skills.
How many mentees should I take on?
That’s completely up to you, whatever you feel comfortable with and it may change depending on how much help is needed by any individual mentee. Mentoring can be anything from answering questions in a Q&A, to sharing information in a group, or having one-to-one IM or email conversations, and can be as often or sporadic as you or the mentee wants. You can also restrict mentees to individuals from certain careers, institutions, courses or companies using the mentor settings section.
How much time do I need to devote?
Well that depends on how many mentees you take on and how much help they need. You can spend as little or as long as you want on WYGU and whilst we recommend that you try to reply to a contact from mentees, we know that everyone is busy and you may only want to devote one hour a week - or one hour a month to this. To make things clear to your mentees, we have created a guidelines section to your mentoring profile where you can set guidelines for your mentoring availability that will be displayed to anyone who wants to be mentored by you. These could include what kind of things you are happy to answer, how often you will be available, etc.
How often should I reply to messages?
Again that’s up to you. However we suggest that if you’ve agreed to be someone’s mentor it’s nice to reply reasonably quickly. Imagine it were you who asked the question...
Can I put ‘mentor’ on my business card?
If you like! We don’t give any kind of mentoring accreditation but we’re very happy for you to share with the world that you are a WYGU mentor.
Will mentoring make me money?
Not directly, no. No money changes hands for mentoring on WYGU.com Advice is offered for free. However, if you are a professional careers advisor / aptitude test company / life coach or similar you might find that you make money from people finding you on WYGU - in fact we have no problem with you offering your services as a result of your mentoring, but please no hard selling or spamming. Other indirect financial benefits such as promotions / new jobs may also come from showcasing your involvement and expertise.
Am I too young to be a mentor?
Provided you are 18 or older then you can be a mentor on WYGU and we actually expect that in some cases, mentors will be younger than their mentees! This will often be the case in situations where someone is looking for advice on changing career, retraining or going back to study.
If you’ve been through college applications, training schemes, job interviews, or any career decision-making process, your advice will be useful to others and no matter what kind of job you’re in you’ll have lots to share about what your day-to-day life entails.
Is there an age restriction on requesting a mentor?
Yes, you need to be over 16 to request a mentor. However, you can use all of the other functions of the site including reading other members’ Q&A sections at any age.
Can I have my own mentor whilst also being a mentor?
Of course. We believe that just as everyone has knowledge to share, everyone also needs advice at times and there’s always more to reach for. In fact we would expect many people to be a mentor and be mentored at the same time.
What does being a mentor entail?
Being a mentor really means sharing your knowledge and advising others based on your own experiences. It’s all about sharing - your story, your insights, what you’ve learnt on your journey so far. Remember though that being a mentor does come with an element of responsibility so please be respectful, be honest, differentiate between opinion and fact, and only answer things that you feel you can - there’s nothing wrong with telling someone that you don’t have the answer to their question.
Do I have to meet people in real life?
No, we do not suggest or recommend that any mentors and mentees ever meet up. WYGU cannot record anything that happens outside of the site so we would urge you to be responsible and use common sense.
Can I mentor people from a different career background / interest area?
Of course. Advice can be relevant across different careers, and everyone has general advice to offer, no matter what background or previous job they may have had. In particular people looking to change career may have nothing in common with your own career path but your knowledge will be incredibly useful to them, if only for encouragement.
Do I need to be CRB checked?
No, you don’t need a Criminal Records Bureau check to be a mentor on WYGU.
Can I show my employer that I’m a mentor?
Of course, we’d love you to! In fact why not get your company to sign up and have their own Company page within the WYGUpedia? We recommend telling your employer - it may well bring you shiny gold stars…
Do you have any support guidelines for mentors?
The checklist below can help support and guide those wishing to be a mentor for the first time or those wishing to get more from their current relationships.
As a mentor, you have put yourself forward to share your knowledge and experience. A mentoring relationship can be a very informal and relaxed or a sophisticated one. Be yourself and start off by defining how the mentee wishes to work. This will help you work in the best way for the mentee.
• As a mentor, take equal responsibility for progressing the partnership
• Don’t impose your own agenda, let the mentee set their own; your role is to respond, challenge and support
• Be a good listener
• Be conscious of the stage of development and level of the mentee and provide relevant advice for the individual circumstance
• Facilitate open communication - Give constructive feedback – open, truthful and trusting
• Mentors are not managers or the problem solver, help the mentee think for himself/herself
• Facilitate, don’t act on their behalf
• Enable the mentee to develop confidence and independence in managing their development and career
• Be sensitive to personal beliefs, aspirations and learning styles
• Keep to the contract you agree with the mentee – e.g. confidentiality
• Respect the mentee’s time but also be available for your mentee
• Make sure both you and mentee are happy with frequency of contact. Effective mentoring relationships usually last for a relatively short period of time; take responsibility for the smooth winding down of the relationship
• Remain objective and impartial
• Have a positive and encouraging attitude – wanting the mentee to succeed
• Support the mentee to put a development plan in place and suggest activities to enhance learning
• Encourage development of self awareness
• Use reflective questioning to analyse causes and barriers to learning
• Learn how to separate emotion from fact
• Help mentee learn from mistakes and setbacks and share your own experiences, both positive and negative, in order to expand knowledge
• Challenge assumptions
• Facilitate opportunities for mentee to try out and practice ideas before implementing them
• Celebrate success
• Help develop or share networking contacts.
Do you have any support guidelines for mentees?
As a mentee, you are responsible for your career development. A mentor will provide you with valuable advice and can help you reflect and learn from their experiences but it is up to you to take initiative, demonstrate your capabilities, and seize opportunities.
• Chose a mentor that will most help your development
• Prepare – Clearly identify development needs and articulate your own goals. For example: “how to take the next step in my career; which university should I go to; how to manage my life-work balance.” Do some research – they cannot make decisions for you. Let the mentor know what you want to ‘take away’ from the session
• Make the most of your mentoring sessions
• Clarify what you have learned
• Take equal responsibility for progressing the partnership
• Understand the mentor’s role – to challenge and support but not provide answers
• Be careful not to become dependent on the mentor
• Be sensitive to the time demands of your mentor
• Be aware of and support what the mentor hopes to get out of the relationship
• Keep to the agreed agenda with the mentor
• Be willing to bring your skills and network to the table
• Devote sufficient time
• Be open to learning from your mentor - be open to receive and provide constructive criticism
• Be proactive and resourceful, bring suggestions to mentor as well as listening to his/her advice
• Agree how the mentoring relationship with work with your mentor:
o Goals and Purpose
o How often you are in contact and how best to reach them
o Duration of contact
o Role of your manager or other individuals
o How to terminate the contract
• Consult your manager to ensure you have his/her support; understand and discuss the role that your manager will play
• Build a relationship with your mentor and continuously maintain open communication
• Discuss confidentiality as it relates to your partnership; agree on boundary conditions
• Discuss and agree on the role of the mentor. Be prepared to request specific actions you wish or expect the mentor to perform (i.e., coach, role model, recommend activities, critique work, observe activities)
• Review feedback you have received in the focused skill areas (i.e. performance reviews, 360º feedback, WYGU Skill Profile etc.)
• Share what is/is not working in your mentoring partnership
• When it seems appropriate to end the partnership with your mentor, discuss it and bring the partnership to a close. If you achieve your development goals earlier than expected, feel free to end your partnership
What are the possible challenges of a mentoring relationship?
As with anything, challenges can arise. We suggest that mentors and mentees should agree upfront to discuss any challenges that arise, and address them in a timely manner during a mentoring partnership.
• Either party may not have dedicated the required time to the partnership
• The mentor may feel uncomfortable sharing confidential and/or personal information
• The mentee may leave in the middle of the mentoring process without appropriately closing the partnership
• The mentee may fail to take initiative in working with the mentor
• The mentee may not follow the agreements negotiated in the mentor
• The mentee may not be open to consider learning projects/assignments that the mentor suggests
• The mentee may have unrealistic expectations of the mentor -The mentee may become overly dependent on the mentor
• Communication / meetings won’t take place face-to-face; they will be conducted through the internet
• The mentor is not sensitive to learning, communications style, or cultural differences
• The mentee may find that the mentor is not as knowledgeable in the subject matter as the mentee desires/expects
• The mentor does ‘too much’ and/or ‘parents’ the mentee and thus reduces the impact of training
• The mentor may leave the partnership without closure
• The mentor provides information which conflicts with direction/information provided by the mentee’s manager / peers
• The mentor ‘lectures’ and does not appear to be listening to the mentee
What about if I want to give a mentee some work experience?
That of course is up to you, and we would be very happy for you to offer work experience or internship placements to someone you mentor, but this is for you to organise independently.
WYGU supports people doing work experience and internships but does not believe in unpaid work, so if you are offering an internship we would kindly request that you pay at least minimum wage to those you employ.
What if I want to stop mentoring a certain person?
You’re under no obligation to continue mentoring someone if you don’t want to. It may be that you only want to offer 5 minutes or answer one question / email, and that’s fine. Just remember that whenever you want to stop to please be polite and let them know that you won’t be available to help them any more. Maybe you could recommend someone else they could speak to?
What if a mentor / mentee is behaving inappropriately?
Please report any inappropriate behaviour using the ‘Report/ Block this person’ button that can be found on the left hand side of the individual’s profile page, just below their list of contacts. This will be dealt with in strictest confidence and with the highest priority. The person you are reporting will not be made aware of your involvement. We take all reports seriously.
What data gets recorded?
For safety reasons all email and instant messaging (IM) conversations are held on our servers for a period of six months from when they took place, after which they are automatically deleted. The only exception to this is for any conversations involving anyone under the age of 18. These conversations will be held for a period of six months after reaching that person’s 18th birthday after which time they will be permanently deleted.