Guidance for an Effective Mentor-Mentee Relationship

Goals of the Program

Several factors will contribute to a successful career in clinical pharmacology. Good Mentors in this field are a critical component to long-term success. ACCP has a wealth of Mentors in various fields, including academia, industry, regulatory, clinical and consulting.

The goal of the ACCP Mentoring Program is to establish a longer-term relationship where Mentees can receive guidance on their career path and career-based decisions, suggestions for the acquisition of additional skill sets and expertise and navigating new opportunities to advance their careers. Mentor/Mentee pairs are encouraged to interact for at least one year but are highly encouraged to continue communicating with one another after this period.

We always encourage Mentors and Mentees to provide the ACCP Mentoring liaison with their feedback, comments and input. 

When Considering Requesting a Mentor

  • Think about what exactly you are hoping to achieve by requesting a Mentor, considering the current stage of your career and your career goals. On what are you hoping to receive guidance – a certain career path or skill set, or maybe you are considering changing paths completely? Take the time to reflect on this before requesting a Mentor, and even once you are matched, to help you identify your needs and to use these needs as a foundation for establishing expectations with your Mentor.
  • After you are matched, follow-up with your Mentor within a reasonable time frame to set up an initial phone call or meeting.
  • Establish expectations for frequency of interactions and engage in regular communication with your Mentor according to the agreed-upon schedule. Consider setting recurrent calendar invites if meeting monthly or quarterly to ensure you are keeping in regular contact.
  • Prepare for interactions with your Mentor – whether it is writing down a list of questions or highlighting key areas that you want to learn about in more depth. Being prepared will help ensure that all questions you may have are answered.
  • Mentors are present to guide you along whatever project or path you are working towards. During these interactions, you may receive constructive criticism or advice that you may not necessarily always agree with, but it is important to keep an open mind and maintain a mutually respectful relationship with your Mentor. Questioning why these things are important may provide an enlightening perspective that has not previously been considered.
  • If you are not receiving everything you expected out of your Mentoring relationship, communicate that with your Mentor and/or the ACCP Mentoring liaison so we can help improve your experience.

Responsibilities of a Mentor

  • Encourage open dialogue and communications with your Mentee, especially during the initial meeting. Some Mentees may be intimidated leading into the first meeting, especially if you have not met each other prior to the match.
  • Use open-ended questions to help Mentees think through scenarios and problems that they have identified and on which they are soliciting feedback. Most importantly, you need to listen. By actively listening it can help guide you in what the Mentee needs which assists in creating the roadmap to get the Mentee to where he/she needs to be.
  • Be sure to share your own experiences, both positive and negative, in response to relevant Mentee questions or concerns. Storytelling can be a valuable tool and an effective way to communicate a concept.
  • Ask for feedback periodically from your Mentee to ensure you are addressing their needs. Remember, the mentoring relationship is about the Mentee. However, if the mentoring relationship is managed well the Mentee will more likely talk about you and their positive experience thereby expanding your visibility and network.
  • It is completely acceptable to connect the Mentee with other potential Mentors in the field, or to point them to various resources to help them develop new connections or skills as those needs are identified throughout the course of the Mentoring program.
  • Mentoring not only helps the Mentor and Mentee but also benefits the society as a whole in creating strong leaders in the clinical pharmacology community.
  • Should you have concerns about the Mentor/Mentee relationship or the progress being made, please communicate that with the ACCP Mentoring liaison so we can help ensure a positive experience for both the Mentor and Mentee.

“The Keys” to a Successful Mentoring Relationship

  • Successful Mentor/Mentee relationships are Mentee-driven and Mentor-guided.
  • Both parties must be willing to invest time, energy and effort in a mentoring partnership.
  • Trust is an essential component and allows the Mentor and Mentee to establish an open environment for discussing new ideas, approaches and challenges, in addition to providing and receiving feedback.
  • The relationship between the Mentor and Mentee is a confidential one - the Mentor and Mentee need to establish what can and cannot be shared outside the relationship and this must be honored.

Potential Questions for Mentee to answer and bring to first session

  • What do you hope to gain from this mentoring relationship?
  • Are there any ground rules you would like to set (e.g., confidentiality, openness, candor)?
  • What would you like the regular meeting schedule to be (length, time, frequency)?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What areas or skill sets would you like to develop? How would you like to go about achieving your developmental goal?
  • What items would you like to discuss in these meetings?
  • Are there any topics of urgent interest? Are any topics off limits?
  • Is there anything you think will be challenging about this relationship?

Suggested Tips for Successful Meetings

The topics you discuss should be centered around the specific goals agreed upon for the relationship. General suggestions for meetings:

  1. Use a simple agenda with a focus on one central goal for the meeting;
  2. Keep a running list of questions and issues to discuss;
  3. Periodically review your goals and make sure you are both in agreement as to the general progress of meeting these goals;
  4. Keep things fun and focused. Do not force meetings to go beyond what is being productive. While longer meetings may be helpful in the beginning to get things started, many find scheduling half-hour meetings with a soft close more effective and efficient as the relationship progresses.