offers mutual benefits
offers mutual benefits
By D. Lyn Hunter,
Many staff are looking for opportunities to grow professionally and contribute more to the campus, but without guidance, it is difficult to develop new skills and acquire the experience needed to progress.
Mentoring is one way to help address these needs, says Chris Murchison, program manager with the Staff Internship Progam. But the term "mentoring" means different things to different people.
To explore the meaning, practice and benefits of mentoring, Murchison organized a May panel discussion on the issue. Murchison said he hopes the program "helps opens doors to a different way of thinking about our jobs and work environment."
Panelists included Steve Lustig, executive director of University Health Service; Sandy Haire, assistant vice chancellor of Human Resources; Edith Ng, director of the Staff Affirmative Action office; and Gleoria Bradley-Sapp, management services officer for Environmental Science, Policy and Management.
All the panelists have mentored others and have been mentored themselves, so were able to offer a perspective on both sides of the process.
"I have more experience with informal mentoring as opposed to a more structured program," said Haire. "If my knowledge or experience can help someone else, then I have an obligation to share it. Likewise, if I need information, I will find someone to teach me."
Bradley-Sapp said she sees mentoring as a relationship between two people, sharing a journey.
While panel members sang the praises of mentoring, it can be difficult to convince others of its benefits, they agreed.
"Our culture glorifies independence and sees asking for help as some kind of deficiency," said Lusting. "Not only is sharing information normal, it's the right thing to do."
In fact, there are many benefits to mentoring, said Haire. "You get to watch people succeed, it feels good to share what you know and it's in the best interest of organization."
"By mentoring, I'd like to prevent others from going through the same hell I went through as I worked my way up," said Ng. "Also, it's kind of an ego boost to have someone ask you to mentor them."
"Mentoring someone forces me to reflect on my job and performance," said Lustig. "I learn a lot from my mentees; they ask probing questions, which helps me see where my strengths and weaknesses are as a manager."
Panelists differed on whether mentees should find mentors who are similar to or different from themselves.
Haire said she looks for someone who is different than her but shares her values. To gain multiple perspectives, Ng said she tries to find someone with a different outlook. "You may not always agree with them, but it challenges you."
Bradley-Sapp, however, feels mentees learn more if they're comfortable with their mentor. "If you've experienced any kind of discrimination in the past, odds are you'll want someone more like you."
Lustig's suggestion: don't' try to get everything from the same person. "Build a network of mentors and use them like your personal board of advisors.
The mentorship panel is one in a series of events scheduled to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Staff Internship Program. Other events include an intern reunion, publication of a first-ever internship newsletter and an anniversary celebration in June.
For information on mentoring, call 642-2711.