Effective mentoring encompasses the followingIneffective mentoring results in the following
  • Long-term commitments from individuals, departments and institutions.
  • Being a part of daily activities and becoming ingrained in an institutional culture.
  • Being inclusive of all ranks and peers.
  • Developing a mosaic of mentors throughout one’s career.
  • The development of clear, mutual expectations and agendas.
  • The mentee is pro-active in seeking advice, knowledge and assistance which the mentor supportively gives (career progress, promotion, and work-life balance).
  • The mentor reviews and identifies career goals and skills of the mentee and finds ways to integrate these into supporting the department’s mission.
  • Evaluation of the mentoring relationship.
  • Acknowledges the multi-generational differences and approaches to work-life balance.
  • Reflects and supports the diversity of the workforce with regards to gender, race, culture and ethnicity.

In order to avoid negative or “toxic” mentoring experiences, it is imperative to watch out for these pitfalls:

  1. Mismatch (or bad chemistry) between mentor and mentee.
  2. Unrealistic expectations or unclear goals for the relationship.
  3. Time constraints or time demands (spending too much or too little time).
  4. Abuse of power in the relationship.
  5. Overdependence.
  6. Charges of favoritism.
  7. Cultural barriers.
  8. Competition between the mentor and mentee.
  9. Mentor does not promote the mentee’s ideas or takes credit for the work.
  10. Conflict between the mentor and the mentee’s supervisor.
  11. Sexual harassment.

Eby LT, Allen TD. Further investigation of protégés negative mentoring experiences: patterns and outcomes. Group and Organizational Management. 2002;27(4).

Matthew Allen

Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professional Development
Associate Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology