REFORMA Mentoring Committee: Mentor Guide

"The single most beautiful gift you can give to others is your positive attitude." ~Jacqueline Camacho-Ruiz

What is mentoring?

"... a supportive learning realtionship between a caring individual who shares knowledge, experience, and wisdom with another individual who is ready and willing to both develop leadership qualities and partnership skills, as well as to realize a vision benefit from this exchange. The benefits received are professional career path growth and enrichment.” ~Suzanne Faure

What is our mission?

The Mentoring Committee encourages an interdependent community of leaders through a mindful and mutually beneficial network of protégés and mentors with the shared purpose of engaging Latinxs with libraries.

What's in it for me?

This is a chance to pass on your experience and knowledge by working one-on-one with an enthusiastic colleague who is ready to learn and benefit from your hard-earned goodness.

You will get:

  • Exposure to new ideas and interests
  • New opportunities for professional challenges
  • Personal satisfaction in sharing your career experience, knowledge and skills
  • Opportunity to reflect on your own practices
  • Enhanced confidence from positive feedback
  • Opportunity to practice developmental behaviors outside own direct line responsibilities
  • Development of own self-awareness
  • Greater understanding of other library organizations and library roles
  • Learning from the shared interactions with your protégé
How does this all work?
  • Be a member of REFORMA
  • Review this page
  • Complete the online application
  • Get paired with a protégé, you’re now a “duo”
  • Smile
  • Commit to approximately six months, or 24 weeks, of duo activity
  • Spend at least 20 minutes each week communicating and interacting with your mentor
  • Work on a collaborative Latinx book review project for REFORMA
  • Breathe
  • Follow the simple week-by-week outline listed below
  • Maintain confidentiality and build a trusting relationship
  • Contact the Mentoring Committee with feedback, questions, and/or concerns
  • Celebrate
What about that week-by-week outline?

1. Get familiar with mentoring best practices as identified by Anthony Tjan in Good People:

1.1. Put the relationship before the mentorship. “All too often, mentorship can evolve into a ‘check the box’ procedure instead of something authentic and relationship-based. For real mentorship to succeed, there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a protégé. Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for a genuine, intercollegial relationship between mentor and mentee. One piece of research, conducted by Belle Rose Ragins, a mentoring expert and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, demonstrated that unless protégés have a basic relationship with their mentors, there is no discernable difference between mentees and those not mentored. All this is to say that mentoring requires rapport. At best, it propels people to break from their formal roles and titles and find common ground as people.”

1.2. Focus on character rather than competency. “Too many mentors see mentoring as a training program focused around the acquisition of job skills. Obviously, one element of mentorship involves mastering the necessary competencies for a given position. But the best leaders go beyond competency, focusing on helping to shape other people’s character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect. They know in the long run that there is a hard truth about soft matters and that these values-based qualities matter a lot more than skill enhancement. There are many ways to mentor people around these values and to build greater self-awareness.

1.3. Be positive. “Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quiet with your cynicism. Your protégé might come to you with some off-the-wall ideas or seemingly unrealistic ambitious. You might be tempted to help them think more realistically, but mentors need to be givers of energy, not takers of it. Consider why an idea might work, before you consider why it might not. The best method I know for thinking this way is the 24×3 rule for optimism. I’ve written about this approach and tried to practice it for years, but it’s very difficult to master. Each time you hear a new idea, see if it is possible for you to spend 24 seconds, 24 minutes, or a day thinking about all the reasons that the idea is good before you criticize any aspect of it. It’s been said that the world prefers conventional failure over unconventional success; good mentors should encourage exploration of the latter.”

1.4. Be more loyal to your protégés than you are to your organization. “The best mentors recognize that in its most noble and powerful form, leadership is a duty and service toward others, and that the best way to inspire commitment is to be fully and selflessly committed to the best interests of colleagues and employees. Don’t seek only to uncover your mentees’ strengths; look for their underlying passions, too. Help them find their calling. Most of us have experienced people, such as friends, religious leaders, and family members, who serve as our anchors and guides outside our workplaces. Why can’t we bring this same high level of trust and support inside the professional landscape? In a lot of cases, we owe it to protégés to serve as something more than just career mentors. The best mentors avoid overriding the dreams of their mentees. If an employee and a job aren’t a good fit, or if an ambitious employee realistically has limited upward mobility in a company, a good mentor will help that employee move on. They might be better suited to another role within the organization, or even to a new path somewhere else. At its highest level, mentorship is about being ‘good people’ and having the right ‘good people’ around us - individuals committed to helping others become fuller versions of who they are. Which is why the organizations and leaders I’ve come to admire most are the ones devoted to bringing others along.”

2. Make an introduction that sticks.

2.1. If you cannot meet face-to-face, use a video chat service to say hello. Google Hangouts or Skype are excellent free tools. From here on out, let’s assume you are at least emailing with your protégé once a week, if not video conferencing or meeting in person.

2.2. Choose a title from the Booklist for Duos to read and discuss together over the next few months. This will serve as an ice-breaker and will also result in a capstone project. Your duo is expected to submit a review with suggested discussion questions by the final week. Your project will be featured on REFORMA’s website. This should spark conversation, not anxiety - rejoice that your duo is contributing something useful to other Latinx library leaders.

2.3. Email the Mentoring Committee your book choice.

3. Consider each other's backgrounds. They matter to forming trusting relationships.

3.1. Spend this week identifying passions and ask your protégé over email, “So what’s your story?” and “Why do libraries matter to you?”

3.2. Share your own story and professional narrative.

3.3. Seek inspiration from the exemplary work by the Santa Ana Public Library and the Orange County Chapter of REFORMA: From Seeds to Trees

4. Discuss your book choice.

4.1. Ask simple questions like, “What do you think about the beginning?” We’re all busy, so let’s not assume your duo will power through the entire book overnight. If the conversation is dull, pick a different book from the list or choose one of your own favorites, just be sure to let the Mentoring Committee know about the change.

5. Discuss final project of co-authoring a review, with discussion questions.

5.1. Research shows that setting goals and deadlines help professional relationships blossom. Please don’t treat this as work - rather, it’s a valuable assignment that directly helps REFORMA reach other librarians.

5.2. Your duo will have the deadline of six-months to complete this task. So, if you started your duo in January, then the final project will be due in June. As always, feel free to ask the Mentoring Committee for help along the way.

6. Chat about the day to day.

6.1. Duos tend to lose steam around this stage, so take this week to be positive and simply catch up about the daily grind of library-life.

7. Discuss your book choice.

8. Chat about the day to day.

9. Discuss your book choice.

10. Chat about the day to day.

11. Discuss your book choice.

12. Chat about the day to day.

13. Discuss the final project.

13.1. This is the midpoint of your formal duo relationship, take this week to get on the same page with the objectives of the book review and discussion questions.

14. Chat about the day to day.

15. Discuss your book choice.

16. Chat about the day to day.

17. Discuss the final project.

17.1. At this point, it would be a good idea to develop an outline for your book review and discussion questions. Email the Mentoring Committee for samples or guidance.

18. Chat about the day to day.

19. Discuss your book choice.

20. Chat about the day to day.

21. Wrap-up your book choice.

21.1. At this point, your duo should be finished reading the book. Take a moment to assemble a shortlist, roughly 5 points that are one-sentence in length, that you feel are worth contributing to the dialogue of your selected title.

22. Assemble a draft of the final project.

22.1. Take the shortlist and add it to your outline, then take a moment to reflect on your emails as a duo that were about the book. Any interesting conversations should be collected and added to a draft of your discussion questions.

23. Redo draft.

23.1. Take this week to make edits and add make any final changes to your book review and discussion questions.

24. Email the final project to the Mentoring Committee...and celebrate!

24.1. Do this together over a virtual meeting. Use this moment to its full potential as it’s the last required meeting for your duo. Make plans to stay in touch and encourage your protégé to continue with the program as a new mentor. Libraries are better because of your hard work!