Welsh Research and Education Network
Hot topics in research and medical education, in Wales and beyond
26th March 2019, Cardiff
Dr Annabel Greenwood ST4
I am currently in the process of implementing a mentorship programme on the Neonatal Unit at UHW. As a trainee, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and at times, emotionally drained by the demands and expectations of our training. Our wellbeing and a positive mindset are paramount in ensuring we can optimise our potential, but how can this be achieved without an appropriate support network in place?
Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the RCPCH Mentoring Skills Workshop in Cardiff to learn more about mentorship and the key principles involved. This was a fantastic one-day workshop lead by Matt Driver and Sandra Grealy, who have a wealth of experience in coaching and leadership. I feel passionately that mentorship is an invaluable process for both the mentor and the mentee, and would like to use this platform to share with you some of the key concepts involved…
So what is mentoring?
Mentoring is the process of supporting and guiding a mentee in the development of their own ideas and agenda. The mentor is usually a more experienced professional who aims to help nurture the potential of the mentee.
The Situational Model
The relationship between a mentor and mentee relies on the right balance between ‘push’ and ‘pull.’
This balance helps us understand the differences between coaching, mentoring, directing, and a more hands-off approach. Depending on the situation and the needs of the person, the balance between ‘push’ and ‘pull’ will need to be adjusted accordingly;
Coaching: The agenda is set by the coach rather than the subject. ‘Pull’ behaviours outweigh ‘push’ in this case.
Directive: The agenda is set by the ‘director.’ It is an important approach where the subject needs to have information. ‘Push’ behaviour outweighs ‘pull.’
Hands-off: The subject is encouraged to do things for themselves, without ‘push’ or ‘pull.’
So, what are the key core skills to be an effective mentor?
What about advice?
Let’s face it, if someone comes to you with a problem, it’s all too easy to jump-in with our own opinion or advice, often backed up by personal experiences.
However, this approach is not useful in the case of mentoring, as it discourages the mentee from exploring their own possible options or solutions and driving their own agenda.
During the workshop we worked through a useful exercise to help appreciate this difference.
After listening to the mentee, the mentor was given the task of adopting two different approaches;
a) Give advice
b) Work through a structured set of questions instead;
As you can see, approach b) focusses on ‘success’ and positivity. These are open questions, allowing the mentee to create and explore their own agenda.
The ‘T-GROW’ approach to mentoring
The ‘T-GROW’ pneumonic provides a very useful structure to shape a mentoring session;
Before embarking on a mentorship session it is important to address ‘the contract.’ This defines the relationship between the mentor and the mentee, and provides the opportunity to explore each other’s expectations at the outset. It is important to emphasise the confidential nature of the meeting, unless of course any alarming information is shared.
How do I learn more?
Dr Annabel Greenwood