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Mentor Arrangements and Ethical Standards





I have been asked this question a number of times, “what is the behavior that is congruent with ethical standards in a mentor arrangement.” To answer this we need to break down the various pieces of this statement.

Let’s first look at the definition of behavior.

Behavior is defined as:

“The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others.”

Ethical standards are defined as:

“Principles that when followed, promote values such as trust, good behavior, fairness and/or kindness.”

When we draw on these two definitions and look at the mentor arrangement the standards that are relevant are: 1) Understand participants expectations and agree on how they are going to meet those expectations, 2) Confidentiality, 3) Excellent Practice which includes the ability to perform, regular reflection and professional development, 4) Integrity, 5) Ensure they can identify and manage inappropriate interactions and 6) The need to recognize equality and diversity.

A mentor arrangement when done properly is a two way trusted relationship where both participants in the arrangement will grow on a personal and professional level. Defining the terms of that arrangement at the very outset is critical and includes what each expects to take away from the time they will spend together. How we are going to ensure that we meet those expectations needs to be addressed during the early stages of the relationship/arrangement.

Confidentiality is required in order to be able to develop and maintain the trust required for a successful mentoring arrangement.

There are so many stories of a mentor arrangements gone badly due to a number of reasons. A primary one is a mentor who does not have the tools required in order to bring value to the arrangement. I have had mentees who have had bad experiences actually be turned off of the idea of trying to work with a mentor. It is sad that they miss out on the “gift of mentoring” and the value that it can provide.

We need to ensure that we deliver mentor services with integrity as it is crucial not only to our own credibility but to the practice of mentoring as a whole. It is also the sign of a great leader. I always like to state that “a great mentor is a great leader and a great leader is a great mentor.”

Recognize equality and diversity from all the different avenues is part of the ethical standards that we must have in place to provide value through a mentor arrangement.

Without ethical standards in place we hinder the ability to fully appreciate the full value that the “gift of mentoring” can bring. We tarnish the mentoring practice at a time when we have so much to learn and grow.


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