Mentorship: How to Collectively Grow

I am currently volunteering as part of IAP2 Canada’s Mentorship program. The program began in January, runs until June, and includes 10 mentors and mentees from across the country working in different sectors, who are all interested in learning more about engagement.

So far my mentee and I have covered topics such as:

  • How do we plan for effective public participation?
  • What is the role of meaningful evaluation?
  • How can you manage outrage and conflict?
  • What is the role of engagement in a democracy?
  • How do engagement and facilitation intersect?

The webinars I established with my mentee have been engaging and provided both of us with an opportunity to share our experiences and learnings. This program has highlighted for me three big learnings about mentorships:

  1. Being a good mentor (I think/hope) is about facilitating learning and helping to put structure around what the mentee already knows. Let’s face it, people who love learning, who are curious and want to grow, sign up to be mentored. So, from my perspective, being a good mentor is about asking questions to help the mentee crystalize what they already intuitively know.
  2. Being an engagement mentor, particularly when working with someone who has a different professional or ethnocultural background, means there is always an opportunity for both the mentor and mentee to learn from each other. There are some fundamentals of engagement that can be understood as “right and wrong”, but the field has a whole lot of grey which means that different perspectives can advance and grow the practice of public participation. Part of learning from each other means forgetting hierarchy (particularly if you work in the same organization).
  3. Listening is one of the most important skills in engagement and it is easily the most important for being a mentor. Two-way communications and two-way listening are key to building rapport, understanding each other’s perspectives and being able to go deep in peeling back the onion on particular topics.

As an IAP2 trainer, and now mentor, I have always benefitted from being able to work and learn from other passionate professionals. In 2019 and 2020, stay tuned as Engage Delaney is working on a mentorship program for those who have taken the IAP2 Foundations course. We believe there is a strong desire for professionals to take their learning to the next level and to apply their skills and we can’t wait to take this journey with them.