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On Thursday, November 3, Bobbie, Giz, Craig, and Molly attended the third campus-wide Mentoring Program Coordinator Council. Organized once each semester by Allison McWilliams, Director of the Mentoring Resource Center, the Council brings together the coordinators of various formal mentoring programs at Wake Forest. Programs include those involving peer-to-peer mentoring among undergraduates, professional mentoring matches with MA and MBA graduate students in the Schools of Business, and faculty to student mentoring through the Chaplain’s Office, as well as our own Librarian’s Assembly program.

The Council began with a discussion led by Evelyn Williams, who came to Wake Forest in August and holds multiple appointments across the Schools of Business, School of Medicine, and Office of Personal & Career Development, where she is Associate Vice President, Leadership Development. She spoke about the importance of harvesting emotional intelligence in mentoring relationships. The old adage that “nice guys finish last” is now being supplanted by data that backs up the claim that “nice does matter.” Being aware of how others perceive you, and how your actions impact others, is crucial to success, including in mentoring relationships. Effective mentoring relationships are ones where mentees are encouraged to develop their self-awareness and self-management skills, and where mentors and mentees interact across the continuum of behaviors from sounding board to feedback. Evelyn explained the IMPACT-feedback model, where impact stands for the manner in which feedback is given:

T=timed appropriately

Just as with any relationship, time is needed to build trust in mentoring relationships. It is important for mentors to understand that they cannot and should not solve their mentees’ problems by launching the relationship in feedback-giving mode; rather, they need to seek the mentees’ permission to give feedback, as the mentee needs to feel comfortable enough with the relationship to be receptive. One way for mentors to help build comfort and trust with their mentees is to use stories and examples from their own personal experiences. Mentors should also think through the launch of the relationship, and find a balance between inquiry (really trying to understand) versus advocacy (problem-solving) based on cues from their mentees. After explaining how emotional intelligence and the IMPACT-feedback model work in mentoring, Evelyn then opened discussion to the group for assessment on how our various mentoring models can more effectively incorporate these strategies.

The second half of the Council included a period of updates from Allison on campus plans for National Mentoring Month (January 2012), new assistance measures for students studying abroad, lessons learned from the recent University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute, and upcoming development opportunities.

I believe I can speak for my fellow Mentoring Committee members when I say that I have found the two Councils we’ve been invited to attend to be quite beneficial, both in giving ideas for our own mentoring program and in making us aware off all the mentoring opportunities taking place around campus. We are quite fortunate to have Allison here at Wake Forest to serve as a resource and expert on mentoring, and all our programs are stronger as a result!