Center for Mentoring Excellence

December 2010 | Volume 1 Issue 6

With this edition of Mentoring Matters we come to the close of our first year of Mentoring Matters.  If you have been reading these issues we welcome your input. If you like what you've been reading or if there are specific areas you'd like us to address in 2011, please let us know. If this is the first issue you are reading, click here to visit our archive of prior e-letters.

Mentoring At Work 

Our topic this month is Mentoring at Work.  The third phase of the mentoring relationship, Enabling, the longest of the four mentoring phases, is the time when the "roll-up-your-sleeves" mentoring work is accomplished. It is an exciting time. The relationship is growing.  Trust is increasing. Momentum is building.  Learning is taking place. It is during this critical phase that both mentoring partners experience delights as well as challenges. To keep the learning fresh and stay on track while continuing to strengthen the relationship requires mutual accountability.

An Example

The new job was proving to be quite a challenge for Sabrina.  Her staff was not as welcoming and friendly to her as she had hoped.  During her sixth week on the job a coworker pulled her aside told her that her east-coast "in-your-face" style had put off a number of staff.  He reported that at least six of them complained that she was micromanaging, intrusive and that some people were even working around her and going to her manager for assignments. Hearing this, Sabrina gulped hard. In her gut she knew she was struggling to get her team on board, and now her worst fears were confirmed.


She was glad that her meeting with her mentor, Mike, was scheduled for the next day.  When they met, Sabrina updated him on the current issues she was handling.  Although she had decided to tell Mike about the negative feedback, when she sat down with him, she was too embarrassed and disappointed to have to admit she wasn't faring as well as she should with her staff.  Instead, she raised some of her issues in general terms, as a theoretical discussion, rather than as a personal problem. Mike asked a lot of questions that made her stop and think about the culture of their organization and how things were done.

The more they talked, the more apparent it became to Sabrina that she needed to focus on developing relationships and trying to make her numbers. When she described an interaction with one of her direct reports as an example of a strategy, Mike cautioned her that it sounded precariously like micromanaging.  Sabrina began to see how she was contributing to creating her problems and that she had to work on building a stronger and more trusting team. Mike challenged her to focus on the goal of team building and to keep that top of mind in her interaction. He asked her to keep a journal and at the end of each day to record what it is she had done to (a) build individual relationships, (b) delegate to her team, and (c) better understand the organization's culture.

Over the next several weeks Sabrina saw the wisdom of Mike's advice.  She consciously invested time in building relationships one at a time, delegating responsibilities to her staff, and trusting them to do their assignments - and it was paying off. In her journal she noted, "Suddenly the air seems lighter around the office and I feel more relaxed. I am beginning to realize how different this place is from my old workplace. People really want to engage and support each other."

Support, Vision, and Challenge

The focus in the third phase of the mentoring cycle is facilitating learning to help a mentee achieve his or her learning goals. Mentoring partners, guided by their mutually established agreements, implement the work plan they previously created, strengthen their relationship, and make significant progress toward accomplishing their mentoring goals.  Our colleague, Laurent Daloz, in Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners describes three conditions that facilitate learning in a mentoring relationship: support, challenge and vision. Mentors provide support, challenge their mentees to grow and develop, and help them create a path to the future by envisioning what they might become and what they need to do to get there.


Honest, respectful, and straightforward exchange of feedback is the foundation of a good mentoring relationship.  When given and received in the right way, feedback nurtures mentoring relationships. When given or received in the wrong way, feedback undermines communication and erodes trust in the relationship. The right way is making feedback a regular part of the relationship interaction. Mentors set an expectation about feedback from day one and talk about how they would each like to receive feedback and what is most helpful to them.

In the previous example, Mike had set an expectation about feedback with Sabrina from day one. And they had agreed that it was to be an essential part of their mentoring relationship.


Success in achieving mentoring goals depends in part on a  mentee's ability to seek the feedback they need from their mentor and to act on it effectively. Mentees need to be proactive about getting feedback. 

Recommended Reading


Mentors GuideThe Mentors Guide: Facilitating Effective Mentoring Relationships by Lois J. Zachary

The Mentor's Guide explores the critical process of mentoring and presents practical tools for facilitating the experience from beginning to end. Leaders, managers, teachers, and leaders form any career, professional, or educational setting can successfully navigate the learning journey by using the hand-on worksheets and exercises in this unique resource.

The Art of MentoringThe Art of Mentoring: Lead, Follow and Get Out of the Way by Shirley Peddy
A universal guide to developing the talents of others, The Art of Mentoring is a universal guide to developing the talents of others. It teaches how to create partnerships of trust and learning in today's challenging organizations. Brand new in the second edition are new chapters on "the art of being mentored" as well as a discussion of the four key purposes of mentoring.

Mentors Guide JourneyMentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners by Laurent A. Daloz

Revised and updated from the award-winning classic Effective Teaching and Mentoring, this second edition is a practical, engaging exploration of mentoring and its power to transform learning. Filled with inspiring vignettes, Mentor shows how anyone who teaches can become a successful mentor.

Mentoring Raising the Bar on Performance is Coming to Phoenix, AZ!
  • Learn directly from mentoring experts.              Coming to Phoenix February 2011                   
  • Walk away with practical tips and tools that you can apply immediately.
  • Learn proven strategies to facilitate your mentee's learning.
  • Raise the bar on your personal performance.
  • Receive a signed copy of The Mentor's Guide and one of our Mentoring Excellence Pocket Toolkitsİ.
Lois Zachary Director, CFME
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Lory Fischler Asst Director CFME

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In This Issue:
Mentoring At Work
Support, Vision, and Challenge
Mentoring Raising the Bar on Performance is coming to Phoenix!
Visit Our Blog CFME
December Blog Topics:
Bridging the gap with challenging assignments

Creating a path to the future

Hitches, glitches and stumbling blocks

February 2011 Issue:
Facilitating Learning

The Business of Learning

The Learner-Centered Mentoring Paradigm

Reflection: A Facilitator's Power Tools

What Effective Facilitators Do


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Announcing a New Workshop!
Creating a Mentoring Culture: What You Need to Know and Do
Friday, February 11, 2010 8:00 - Noon

  • For individuals and teams responsible for some or all aspects of designing, developing or implementing mentoring programs
  • Fast tracks participants step by step through the process of creating a vibrant mentoring culture
  • Participants learn about the eight hallmarks of a mentoring culture and the specific actions they need to take to support all the mentoring that goes on in their organization.
A Note to Our Readers:
 We believe that leaders cannot be effective without a strong and ongoing commitment to mentoring excellence. This belief, our passion for mentoring excellence, and our extensive experience in the field with organizations led us to create the Center for Mentoring Excellence. At our virtual center,, you will find mentoring tools and resources, expert advice and a forum for sharing best mentoring practices. We hope that you will visit us there and let us know how we can continue to help you raise the bar on mentoring in your organization.