Mentoring – It’s all about the Food

by Lauretta Phillips

phillipsI am making a New Year To Do list. No resolutions. They get buried in the pile on my desk to make me feel guilty later.  2012 went by so quickly that I find myself reflecting back to see what I missed.  I really missed those face to face hugs I usually get at NSN’s National Storytelling Conference and at the National Storytelling Festival. Facebook and email are great communication tools but it just isn’t the same as that face to face hug. They are both back on the list for this year.  What an exciting year it has been. So many new things and renewed things.  More writing, more producing, more chances to share stories on many levels.

I cornered Michael Parent at Sharing the Fire and asked if he would mentor me on a few stories.  What a kind and generous person he is and so insightful.  We traded; I talked and cooked and he listened and ate.  We both like to barter. To me bartering and mentoring go together like meat and salt.

I also had the opportunity to mentor Sue Mcphee.  She is a terrific new storyteller who has an extensive theater background and is a massage therapist.  Bet you can guess what I bartered for with her. We got to walk into her story and experience it for ourselves when she represented the Central New Hampshire Storytelling Guild at the White Mountain Storytelling Festival this year.   I am so proud I was one of the many people who helped encourage her and bring her forward.

I have mentored many people over the years.  Following is a list of some things I learned as both mentor and mentee.

  1. Successful mentoring programs balance the needs of structure and flexibility. A level of formality is needed within the mentoring process.
  2. Selecting the right mentor or mentee is critical to your program and individual growth.  Establish trust and a safe place to work.
  3. Mentoring is about individual learning and growth, which means participants’ needs vary as much as the outcomes sought.
  4. Everyone has their preferred methods of learning.  Discuss those methods and work within those parameters.
  5.  Discuss and define the objectives of this mentorship.  Discuss both participants ability to meet those objectives. Establish parameters and objectives for each session.  Keep those commitments whenever possible.
  6.  Above all practice good listening skills and pose the question whenever something is unclear.
  7. Work with the mentee to identify mileposts that indicate when established goals have been reached. Provide tips and best practices throughout the mentoring program to help participants stay on track.
  8. Prepare participants for success.  Celebrate each success.
  9. Provide an opportunity for both the mentor and mentee to reflect upon what was learned.
  10. Discuss next steps for the mentee, and provide feedback.
  11. Without defining a closure point, the mentoring process can wander aimlessly. Establish a formal process that brings closure to the mentoring experience.  Set an ending date and re evaluate what has been accomplished.
  12. Ask participants how well the mentoring program met their goals and for suggestions.  There is always something new to learn.

About Lauretta

Storyteller, teacher, author, event manager, producer Lauretta Phillips has been telling stories professionally since 1987.  She writes many of the tales she tells and takes her ideas from life and people around her, casting an interesting light on everyday life.

Among her many programs, her newest is Save Your Story – Share Your Life, a program designed to help seniors capture & share their stories on CD or DVD.

She is president of NH Storytelling Alliance, a founding member of Central New Hampshire Storytelling Guild, a member of National Storytelling Network and League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling.

Contact Lauretta


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