Getting Expectations in Line with an Online Mentoring Agreement
Excellent communication underlies the mentee-mentor relationship, starting with the initial expectations, goals, and plans to achieve success together. Yet most Mentee-Mentor Agreements used by academic groups define agreements in formal legalese that often poorly fit specific nuances of the pair. The Edge for Scholars team recently revised our Mentee-Mentor Agreement using an interactive online approach to initiate and revisit the important conversations that serve as the building blocks of a solid mentee-mentor relationship.
Built to serve the needs of mentees at any stage (predoc, postdoc, early career faculty), the REDCap-based tool is designed to meet the custom needs of each mentee-mentor pairing. The Mentee-Mentor Agreement asks a series of questions under broad categories.
- 1:1 Meetings
- Lab Meetings
- Mentoring Panel
- Financial Support
- Scientific Development
- Approach to Scholarly Products
- Career & Professional Development
How does it work?
The mentee logs in to the tool and spends approximately 30-45 minutes answering questions via the online portal. Completion by the mentee initiates an email to the mentor indicating an agreement is ready for review. The mentee and mentor schedule an hour to meet and discuss each question, focusing on those for which mentee and mentor viewpoints do not align and entering a final and agreed upon response. Once complete, the final agreement is saved and stored in the online portal—editable at any time—and a PDF version may be saved or printed.
We suspect it will be most effective to implement the Mentee-Mentor Agreement within the first three months of a new mentoring relationship. Setting expectations early helps build a strong foundation. Because relationships evolve over time, we designed the agreement with the intention that it is an iterative process. We recommend the pair revisit the tool six months following the initial meeting and then annually thereafter. Doing so will allow the mentee and mentor to confirm expectations are still aligned and meet the needs of both parties; they may also make changes to their agreement as needed. Additionally, a mentee and their mentor may find they are not prepared to answer all sections of the agreement during the initial meeting. For example, it may have been too early in the training to determine who would be best to serve on a mentoring panel or thesis committee. Or, a mentee may not have well-defined scientific or career and professional development goals three months into their training experience. By revisiting the agreement on a regular basis, the mentee and their mentor can work to better define and adjust the agreement, and their relationship.
Please note that for this agreement, in the case of multiple mentors, we suggest that one mentor take the ‘lead’ on this process, at least electronically. Certainly, we encourage the mentors and mentee to have open dialogue about each of the topics and come to an agreed upon response, but respectfully defer this responsibility to the lead mentor on this agreement and the mentee.
Accessing the Tool
Mentees and mentors may access a scaled-down version of the Mentee-Mentor Agreement at https://redcap.link/ft_mma. The full version of the Mentee-Mentor Agreement is available, with all the bells and whistles, for groups as a part of Flight Tracker for Scholars through REDCap.
We recognize that with any new tool, revisions to refine it and/or the process may be needed over time, and welcome stakeholder feedback.
Questions? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.