|Mentor competencies||Mentor best practices||Mentee competencies|
|Provide direct, honest, and respectful communication. Be willing to have difficult conversations to address differences or problems.||Accommodate different communication and work styles and implement strategies to improve communication. Practice active listening in conversations with mentees.||Provide direct, honest, and respectful communication. Be willing to have difficult conversations to address differences or problems.|
|Establish expectations for meeting frequency and format (and meet them).||Adjust the frequency and modality of meetings with mentees as needed.||Discuss with your mentor if the format/frequency of meetings is difficult or problematic for you.|
|Establish what constitutes timely communication for you; respond to messages and requests in this manner.||Acknowledge work-life boundaries. Discuss work-life integration and strategies with your mentees.||Understand expectations for timely communication and respond to messages and requests in accordance with these expectations.|
|Maintain a professional and courteous tone in conversations and messages/emails.||Maintain a professional and courteous tone in conversations and messages/emails.|
|Provide contingencies in cases of sabbatical/leave/travel.||Proactively check in with trainees, especially if you are not available over some period.||Communicate your schedule and constraints to your mentor.|
Refer to the Mentoring Resources page for supporting materials and training opportunities.
- Explain your communication and meeting expectations in your mentoring compact.
- Be aware that it is hard to convey tone in digital communications; compose messages accordingly.
- Many people at MIT can help you prepare to have constructive conversations about difficult topics.
- For any biology department member: Hallie, Ombuds office.
- For grad students and student advisors: Graduate Officer, graduate committee members, GradSupport, thesis committee members.
- For faculty: senior faculty with relevant experience.
- For postdocs: HR professionals in each building; senior faculty with relevant experience.
Potential pitfalls for mentors (drawn from examples provided by trainees)
- Avoiding issues of potential conflict, or not engaging with trainees when things aren’t going well or there are concerns to address.
- Assuming mentees understand standard expectations and etiquette in academia