The Mentor Attributes Profile

Carrying on from the article ‘The Right Mentor for the Job’, how do you decide on the core (critical, must-have, required) attributes of your mentors?

In her article on values in the 2nd edition of my eNewsletter, Mentoring News, Pam Finnie talks about how an awareness of values and associated behaviours significantly influences people’s interactions and communication with others. This is so relevant in relation to the mentor’s support of the mentee. Pam’s Values Activity encourages you to identify your core values and qualities, and how you demonstrate these in your behaviour and relationships with other people – a great activity for mentors and mentees to complete and reflect on.

Knowing what you value is important to determine who you are in relation to yourself and in relation to other people. For those in a mentor role, this level of self-knowledge will greatly impact on the mentoring relationship.

Core Attributes: Skills, Knowledge, Interpersonal Qualities

There is a plethora of ‘mentor skills’ and ‘mentor qualities’ in the literature, lists and lists in fact, all sounding important and core to the mentor role. But are some skills and qualities more important than others for your mentors to possess in your mentoring programme? And how do you decide what these are? Here are a couple of approaches to take:

  • Prior to the mentoring training workshops, I work with key stakeholders in the organisation to determine the criteria for mentor selection and design a mentor profile for their programme.
  • Then in the training workshops, I engage participants in an activity which guides them through a process of identifying their core skills and knowledge and their core interpersonal qualities, using The Mentor Attributes Profile Tool™

The Mentor Attributes Profile Tool™

A brief description of this tool……

  1. Participants work in groups to decide what they think are critical attributes of the mentor
  2. They have a list of about 50 attributes which they have to prioritise and par down to 5 of each (skills, knowledge and interpersonal qualities)
  3. They have to agree as a group on their prioritised list and discuss with the rest of the group their rationale
  4. Each person is then encouraged to individually reflect on their attributes and what they believe they bring to their role as a mentor.

This exercise generates excellent discussion in the small groups and then as a whole group. People have to ‘drill down’ into their reasoning as to why the attributes they select are the core skills, knowledge areas and interpersonal qualities of a mentor.

* I use a similar activity in the mentees’ training workshop, as I think it is just as important for mentees to carefully consider the skills, knowledge and interpersonal qualities they bring to the mentoring partnership. Their core attributes will influence how they engage in the mentoring meetings, how they will build a relationship with their mentor, and how they use the mentor’s support for their professional and personal growth.