As mentioned in the Purpose of a Mentor blog, mentoring is to promote the development of other younger members and to ensure members are fulfilling their expectations as they progress through their time in the chapter and the True PIKE Experience. Now that we have reaffirmed the purpose, let’s look at the roles and responsibilities of a successful mentor.
Commitments of a Good Mentor
The most important concept of a mentoring relationship is that the mentor is responsible to his mentee, not responsible for his mentee. A mentor cannot and should not attempt to control or micromanage the decisions of his mentee. A mentor should provide the encouragement and support that leads the mentee to make the best decisions on his own.
- Do not try to do more than you are qualified to do. If you are not a trained counselor, you should not attempt to deal with serious psychological or emotional problems. Instead, encourage and assist him with seeing a professional on campus or in the community.
- Be confident and use your own style.
- Be clear about your motives before becoming a mentor – know what you want from the relationship and what you are willing to give.
- You will obviously feel closer to the members who may share similar interests, but consider the occasional “long shot.” It may turn out to be a more rewarding experience for both you as the mentor and for your mentee.
- Do not try to force your mentee to follow in your footsteps. If your mentee does desire to follow the path that you did, you should encourage him to add his own personal touch along the way.
- Find the motivational “hot buttons” early on and use them to get your mentee excited about what he is doing or what he is preparing to do.
As the mentor, you should advise your mentee to make responsible decisions; but the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the mentee. If the mentee exhibits poor judgment and makes an irresponsible choice despite the positive influence of the mentor, the mentor should neither feel discouraged nor responsible for that action. It is not the duty of a mentor to make decisions for his mentee, but rather to lead him to the best scenario.
Obligations of a Mentor
Considering that all mentors are volunteers, they may have the best intentions to be the greatest role models possible; however, sometimes, their daily routine may interfere. Therefore, mentors need to be reminded of the most basic obligations, which include:
- Always be accessible whether it be in-person or via call/text
- Be reliable
- Follow through on commitments
- Demonstrate trustworthiness
- Promote the overall mentor program with others
- Support the relationship
- Seek added information about the mentee
Role of a Mentor
As a mentor, you should primarily serve as a role model and guiding influence for your mentee. You should help your mentee affirm the interest he has taken in Pi Kappa Alpha.
At its foundation, mentors should perform the following:
- The mentor can be and ideally should be a Pike, a faculty member, a member of the community, someone with a similar major, or anyone else the mentee will hold in high-esteem and from whom he can solicit guidance and support.
- Actively pursue campus and chapter activities while teaching your mentee to manage his time and responsibility in school and other personal activities.
- As the mentor, you will review the corresponding True PIKE Experience guidebook with the mentee to explain all the benefits of membership in Pi Kappa Alpha.
- Mentors should perform the following:
- Introduce mentees to other members of the chapter
- Spend personal time at least once per week with their mentee (eating together or just spending other time together as mentor/mentee).
- Spend academic time at least once per week studying in the library or another appropriate location to limit distractions. Note: This will also be the time to review academic progress, grades and scores of mentees.
- Help your mentee(s) meet the commitments of membership as outlined in the following items:
- Attend New Member, Brother Leader, Fraternity Leader, or Community Leader member development meetings
- Read and review the Garnet and Gold sections with your mentee(s) when they are New Members
- Assist in goal setting with your mentee(s)
- Attend events together as requested by the member development cabinet.
- Assist your mentee(s) in choosing other organizations in which to become involved
What to Do as a Mentor
There really are only two rules to remember:
- Remain patient and maintain an open mind.
- Mentoring is a journey - not a destination.
For young men, the primary objectives of most mentoring relationships are to convey basic societal values, to add new personal skills and experiences, or to offer new insights, attitudes, and behaviors to the mentee. These common principles will add new vision and wider experiences to each mentee.
Among the most common objectives is the development of the attributes of honesty, self-esteem, responsibility, reliability, and commitment. Other objectives include learning how to work as members of a team, and applying techniques for problem solving, decision-making, and goal setting.
Guidelines for Mentors
All mentor/mentee relationships will vary and change throughout the duration of the experience. Several guidelines will be useful to help build the trust and encourage responsible behavior in the relationship. The most productive suggestions are:
- Keep communications confidential
- As a mentor, make promises only to your mentee
- Keep all the promises to your mentee
- Insist your mentee keeps his promise to you
- Emphasize your responsibility is to your mentee
- Maintain regular communication by any means
- Seek assistance if the relationship is not compatible or must end for any reason
Dos and Don’ts of Mentoring
There are many excellent suggestions provided to mentors as they participate in training programs. These suggestions were developed to guide mentors with basic ideas and parameters to guide their own actions and attitudes about mentoring. They serve as an excellent starting point for introducing the world of mentoring to mentor volunteers.
- Do appreciate any growth.
- Do praise your mentee when deserved.
- Do ask questions and obtain information.
- Do share with your mentee and do communicate.
- Do remember to be punctual.
- Do remember to be a great role model.
- Do follow the rules of the University and the program.
- Do show attention and concern. Be a friend.
- Do show that you recognize your mentee’s values and lifestyle.
- Do strive for mutual respect.
- Do come prepared.
- Do be honest.
- Don't think you are going to change the whole world overnight.
- Don't judge your mentee or his family.
- Don't forget that confidence is built on trust.
- Don't forget communication means listening, too.
- Don't be late and disappoint your mentee that is counting on you.
- Don't exhibit poor language (written or oral) or dress inappropriately.
- Don't allow your mentee to talk you into things you know are against the rules.
- Don't try to be a parent.
- Don't try to inflict your beliefs or values on your mentee; rather, demonstrate your values as a True Pike.
- Don't settle for rudeness or foul language.
- Don't come without a plan.
- Don't think your mentee can't spot insincerity.
This is part two of 10 in the mentor blog series. Be sure to check out the Skill Sets of a Mentor blog to continue your development as a mentor in your chapter.
To learn more about the Pi Kappa Alpha mentor program, be sure to look at the mentor program handbook and its accompanying resources located in the myPIKE Resource Center (myPIKE > Resource Center > Pi Kappa Alpha folder > Chapter Officer Resources folder > VP of Membership Development folder > Mentor Program folder).
Devon T. Teixeira
Director of Membership Development