The Dos and Don’ts of Mentoring
Published January 3, 2022.
Mentoring expert Annie Singh, Senior Manager at Toronto-based TRIEC Mentoring Partnership, offers advice to newcomers about how they can make the most of a mentoring experience in order to achieve their personal and professional goals
Annie Singh knows what a successful mentoring relationship looks like.
In 2020-21, TRIEC Mentoring Partnership, where Singh serves as senior manager, matched more than 1,800 newcomer mentees with experienced professional mentors from across the Greater Toronto Area. TRIEC focuses on connecting local employer partners with immigrants and refugees looking to establish their careers in Canada. TRIEC’s mentorship model relies on newcomer referrals from community partners like Humber College and ACCES Employment. Singh, herself an immigrant from India, has witnessed first hand how newly arrived individuals, referred to TRIEC, and successfully paired with a mentor, can enhance their job search, interview and networking skills.
“Mentoring seeks to empower and enable newcomers to realize positive employment outcomes. Mentees who participate are more likely to find good quality employment and to expand their professional network,” says Singh.
TRIEC defines “good quality employment” as a “full-time, permanent job with benefits and opportunities for advancement”. They report their newcomer mentees are 2.5 times more likely to earn these jobs and four times more likely to expand their professional network, after three months of program completion, than those who do not participate.
To achieve these successful outcomes, Singh shared some Dos and Don’ts of Mentoring for new Canadians to get the most out of a mentoring experience.
DO: Find mentoring programs and resources across Canada
Singh says many newcomers may not fully grasp the importance of mentoring, networking and building professional networks in Canada. A lack of awareness about mentoring programs by immigrant professionals could be a barrier to access. For many, networking and mentorship are new concepts. Organizations like TRIEC, “allow newcomers to achieve their full potential and leverage their past experience and credentials into equivalent jobs in Canada. Mentoring provides a big boost in making that happen,” adds Singh.
Click here to find a list of newcomer mentorship organizations across Canada, including Windmill Microlending’s Mentorship Program.
DO: Build a mentor-mentee partnership that is mutually beneficial, respectful, safe and based on shared expectations
“Mutually beneficial mentoring relationships are rooted in trust, respect and learning,” says Singh. “Creating an open and psychologically safe environment where the newcomer can share their goals and areas where they need the most help is critical to the success of the relationship.”
She also believes effective mentoring relationships are beneficial not only for the mentee but also for the mentor. “The mentorship relationship is a chance for mentors to foster cross-cultural competence, leadership and coaching skills, helping them become better prepared for managing diverse teams at work. Mentors love the opportunity to give back and make a difference.”
DON’T: Miss out on the opportunity to learn the “unwritten rules” of the Canadian workplace
Singh highlights how mentors can share “insider” knowledge and insights about their specific occupation, help newcomers position themselves confidently in interviews and build their professional networks. This also allows new Canadians access to the “hidden” job market, better understanding of Canadian workplace culture and communications norms.
DON’T: Hold onto mentoring relationships that no longer work
Not all mentoring relationships go “according to plan,” says Singh. “Some of the telltale signs signalling unhealthy or unproductive mentoring relationships include misaligned or unrealistic expectations, lack of mutual respect and trust, lack of clear communication, mentees not being open to constructive feedback, mentors trying to provide “cookie cutter” solutions and disregarding unique situational challenges.” If the relationship is “beyond repair,” adds Singh, she advises to gracefully end it.
DO: Consider the power of mentorship to change lives and perspectives
Singh has observed the pandemic period as particularly “isolating and disruptive” for newcomers. She believes mentorship can help newcomers “maintain a positive mindset” and strengthen determination through uncertain times. Mentorship can also “open the minds” of Canadian professionals enabling them to understand what skills, talent and experience immigrants and refugees bring to the workplace.
While a newcomer’s career journey in Canada can be challenging, following these mentorship dos and don’ts could help them get closer to their career goals. Who knows? It could even be the start of a lifelong and mutually beneficial mentoring relationship.