Primary Tasks of Mentoring
There are four primary tasks in mentoring as detailed below.
- Establish a positive, personal relationship with the client – This relationship should be based on mutual trust and respect, be regular and consistent and be affirming to the client. A good way to establish a relationship with the consumer at a first meeting is to encourage them to share their experience.
- Help client develop or begin to develop life skills –The peer specialist works with the client to accomplish self-identified goals and instill the framework for developing broader life-management skills, (e.g., decision-making skills, goal-setting skills, conflict resolution, money management).
- Assist the client in obtaining additional resources -Provide awareness of available community resources and act as a broker in obtaining those resources.
- Increase the client’s ability to interact with people/groups/things from various backgrounds (cultural, racial, socioeconomic, etc.) – Model respect for differences among people/groups from various backgrounds. Do not promote values and beliefs of one group as superior to those of another.
Three Levels of Mentoring
Depending upon the needs of the client and the job description of the peer support specialist, mentoring can occur at various levels along a continuum of involvement and responsibility for the mentor. One useful model for understanding this is The Mentoring Levels TM model.
This model describes three levels of mentoring where the expected outcome grows in significance and the degrees of accountability, intensity and trust required of the mentor increase in proportion to the outcome expectations.
As mentoring relationships becomes more complex, the level of each quality listed above grows and the investment of both mentor and client increases. In order for a mentoring relationship to function well, the mentor and the client need to have a shared understanding of the level of the relationship and a shared commitment to operate at that level. Difficulties can arise when the parties in the relationship do not have shared expectations of how it will function.
The three levels of mentoring comprise the continuum of mentoring relationships are:
This is the least intensive level of mentoring. At this level of mentoring, clients tend to be less active in the process, although they must be engaged and involved. Information mentoring may be focused more on immediate needs and outcomes, rather than longer-term goals and achievements. Information mentoring suggests a lower level of relationship accountability, intensity and trust. This type of mentoring is also less personal and involves less forethought and planning. In this level of mentoring, mentors act as:
- sources of information
Remember Information-Level Mentoring with the word Educate
The second level of mentoring is skill-based mentoring. In this level of mentoring, clients are focused on developing a specific skill or changing a particular behavior. At this stage, mentors handle questions, consult on techniques, point out potential difficulties, review goals and expectations, and share possible keys for success. Report on how they have done it in the past. Skill-based mentoring suggests a moderate amount of accountability, intensity and trust. It requires more forethought and planning than information-based mentoring. Through skill-based mentoring, mentors act as:
- observers who provide feedback
Remember Skill-Level Mentoring with the words Enable and Encourage
The last and most intense level of mentoring is advocacy. We discuss advocacy in more detail in Module 5. In this level of mentoring, peer support specialists focus on helping clients to develop the ability to speak and act on their own behalf in order to meet their needs. This level of mentoring requires significant levels of accountability, intensity and trust. In addition, peer support specialists must have a thorough understanding of the service systems that they are helping their clients learn to navigate.
Advocacy-based mentoring is very deliberate and involves high levels of forethought or planning. In this type of mentoring, mentors act as:
Remember Advocacy-Level Mentoring with the word Empower
Research consistently shows that peer mentoring increases a client’s knowledge and coping skills, and increases self-esteem and confidence. In addition, there is a greater sense of well-being with stronger social networks and supports.
Progress in the mentoring relationship is generally defined by the degree to which the client is able to perform specific tasks and demonstrate targeted skills independently. At the beginning of a mentoring relationship, the client may not be able to perform specific tasks at all, and the mentor’s involvement is consistent and intense, with frequent feedback and correction. Over time, as the client develops increased competence in performing tasks, the peer specialist’s involvement becomes less intense, with less of a need for intense feedback and correction. Eventually, when the client is able to perform targeted tasks consistently, reliably and accurately, the mentoring relationship reaches its natural conclusion and is terminated.
Video: Building the Mentoring Relationship (7:50 minutes)
Action Points – Mentoring
- Mentoring is one type of peer support conversation. The other type is a support conversation. Be clear about the intent of each interaction you have with your client.
- Support conversations are focused on thoughts, feelings and emotions, while mentoring conversations are focused on information, skills and behaviors.
- Mentoring is a sustained, one-to-one relationship based in trust where you actively support you client’s capacity to enhance personal effectiveness.
- There are four basic tasks you will complete as a mentor:
- Establish a positive, personal relationship with the client
- Help the client develop or begin to develop life skills
- Assist the client in obtaining additional resources
- Increase the client’s ability to interact with diverse people/groups/things.
- The levels of your mentoring relationships are defined by the degree of accountability, intensity and trust required.
- Remember the three levels of mentoring with key “E” words:
- Information (Educate)
- Skill (Enable and Encourage)
- Advocacy (Empower).