5 Ways People Stuff Up Mentoring and How To Make Sure You Don’t!

Mentoring is critical to career success and satisfaction and it offers significant benefits to both mentors and mentorees but mentoring is not always effective. When a mentoring relationship fails it leaves people disappointed. They can blame themselves, their mentoring partner, the mentoring program or the organization.It is a promise unfulfilled and can leave a lasting, poor opinion of mentoring and close people to new opportunities in the future.

Recent research in an academic setting identified 5 characteristics of failed mentoring relationships. The good news is they also revealed 5 characteristics of successful mentoring! I’ve listed them in the table below.

No one wants to fail. To set yourself up for success from the start, I recommend these 5 steps.

#1 Build Rapport

Make your early meetings as relaxed as possible, perhaps over coffee. Spend some time getting to know each other. Look for what you have in common in your personal as well as professional background including interests, hobbies or sport. Finding common ground makes it easier to build rapport, you feel like you’re on the same wavelength. It is the basis of a harmonious relationship. Building Rapport develops mutual respect, personal connection and identifies your shared values.

#2 Discuss Expectations

Share and clarify what you each want from the mentoring relationship. This is a very important step. An initial conversation can include:

Your purpose and goals – why are you each engaging in mentoring?
Scope and boundary of the relationship – what will and won’t be on the agenda?
Roles and Responsibilities – who does what?
Logistics – practical aspects, how often, where and when you want to connect?

Discussing Expectations helps deal with failure factors such as poor communication and lack of commitment and clarifies expectations .

#3 Create an Agreement

The beginning is the best time to negotiate the ways you will respect each other’s time, needs and differences. It’s good to agree on:

Ground rules or guidelines.
Etiquette – do’s and don’ts
Ethics – code of conduct

An agreement deals with most, if not all of the features of failure, demonstrates respect and makes explicit expectations

#4 Understand mentoring is 2-way

Mentoring is a partnership that benefits both mentors and mentorees. Each will develop and grow. It also helps to recognize that mentors are not expected to have all the answers. They will listen and ask as much (or more) than they show and tell.

Seeing mentoring as 2-way builds the reciprocity. It can also overcome a mentor’s lack of experience.

#5 Schedule a Review

After a few meetings have a conversation about:

What you’ve achieved
What’s working well
What you’d prefer to do differently

A review allows you to: Confirm your commitment to continue mentoring; seek additional support, guidance or resources; or, agree to exit the relationship without fault or failure.

Taking these 5 simple steps at the start is the best way to ensure your mentoring works.

By Ann Rolfe, Mentoring Works

3 Ways Mentoring Leverages Learning

3 Ways Mentoring Leverages Learning
By Ann Rolfe, Mentoring Works

They say only 10% of workplace learning comes from formal education and training; 20% comes from observing, emulating and talking with other people; but a whopping 70% comes from experience.

But experience is the worst teacher! She gives you the test, then the lesson. That’s why we say: “I wish I knew then what I know now!” It’s hindsight, 20-20 vision in the rearview mirror!

Learning from experience only happens when you stop. Reflect. Get the lesson from the experience. That’s called insight. Without it, the person who says they have 10 years experience may really only have 1 year’s experience, repeated 10 times.

What mentoring does is use hindsight to create insight and turn it into foresight.

And that 20% observing, emulating and talking with other people? What if they are the wrong people?

When my youngest child was a teenager, I met a couple who told me they built a fire pit in their back yard. On Saturday nights their teenage kids and their friends would come around, everybody was welcome. They’d put on a BBQ for all of them and afterwards sit around the fire pit with the kids, getting to know them, telling stories and just talking, while they toasted marshmallows on the fire. The dad said: “I want to know where my kids are and who they’re with. If you want them to fly with the eagles you don’t let them hang out with the turkeys”.

You must choose who you’ll hang out with and pick your mentors.

Finally, the 10% formal education and training? This is the biggest investment for organisations and individuals, in terms of money and time and lost productivity. Sending people off-the-job in the hope that they will return and apply learning on-the-job is delusional.

Don’t get me wrong! I believe in life-long learning and I know the value of training and conferences. But I also know this: 80% of learning is lost – never gets applied – unless there is on-the-job coaching or mentoring .

The learning environment has evolved and mentoring is the key. Mentoring leverages the 70, the 20 and the 10. It adds value, extends and enhances all types of learning and when managers also mentor their people, learning can be applied on the job to make a real difference. That’s how mentoring works.

Next Live Webinar Tuesday 30 June 7.30pm

Mentoring – The Art of Feedback

Register Now!

It Takes Courage To Mentor

Mentorees make a courageous choice every time they divulge aspirations, goals or obstacles and difficulties. They put their confidence and trust in the mentor to treat them with respect and preserve confidentiality and privacy.

For mentors, it can take courage to embark on the role. After all, it usually the brightest and the best that want to be mentored, smart people who want to advance their career and professional development. Those that understand mentoring also recognise that there is a paradox in mentoring: you offer your ideas and experience and seek to inspire your mentoree, yet you encourage them to make their own decisions, knowing that their choices may not be the ones you’d make.

Both mentor and mentoree may find that their assumptions and normal way of interpreting the world are challenged as they gain different ways of looking at things. Both need to have the ability to give and receive feedback and that takes courage too.

To get the best from mentoring you need to step up and accept the challenges offered by this kind of relationship. Mentoring is a unique chance to look at yourself honestly. It is an opportunity to open your mind, question your thinking, consider alternatives and choose actions.

Mentoring can literally change your mind. Because it is an adventure into the unknown for both the mentor and the mentoree, it may be a bit scary. You have to prepare and build confidence before you jump into mentoring.

You need to create a safe space for your mentoring conversations. This means building trust in one another. That’s how mentoring works.

Don’t forget to register for the final Webinar 4: Mentoring – The Art of Feedback
Date: Tuesday 30 June 2015
Time: 7:30pm EST
Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5559610543939154178

By Ann Rolfe, Mentoring Works

Who will look after the nurses?

The following excerpt from an article printed in The Age on May 2, 2015.
‘Help the nurses to keep us all alive.
The cost of health is exploding in Australia.
Nurses are a great group of people but I have to say, they’re badly done by. This highly qualified profession of mainly women simply don’t get paid enough for the lifesaving work they do. If we’re not careful, we suddenly won’t have the nurses that we need.
Consider the fact that for the last 20 years, nurses have been rated number 1 as the most trusted profession in Australia, with 91 per cent of Australians ranking them as very high or high for ethics and honesty. The rankings make sense.
Nursing is now a profession requiring a tertiary degree as a minimum standard with options for even higher levels of attainment. Hours are very long and the workload is demanding because of a chronic shortage of nurses. According to a Monash University study, 15 per cent of nurses are considering leaving in the coming year. Their average age is now 44.5 years and the number of them over 50 has increased from 33 per cent to 39 per cent in the four years to 2011. In short, we’re running out of these incredible people and not replacing them.
So how much do they earn? A registered nurse with a degree earns between $52,000 and $79,000 pa — and that’s less than any executive’s PA.
We’ve got a new Health Minister, Sussan Ley. She replaced Peter Dutton who was voted the worst health minister in memory. I think Ley is going to make a difference and one way she could write herself into favourable history is to fix this developing crisis. My suggestion is that she immediately starts moving funds from a centralised and useless bureaucracy and overgrown administration to the nurses on the hospital floor.
After all, if we don’t look after our nurses, who will look after us?’
Harold Mitchell: Help the nurses to keep us all alive
May 2, 2015. The Age http://www.theage.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/harold-mitchell-help-the-nurses-to-keep-us-all-alive-20150501-1mwtwg.html

Whilst the article refers to nurses working in the hospital setting, it is relevant for all of us, and we have all walked a few miles in these shoes haven’t we?

If you could tell a new GPN one thing, what would it be?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on a number of circumstances. The nurse’s previous experience, the general practice environment they are entering, are they the only nurse, what are the patient demographics of the practice, and the list goes on. It is with this in mind that APNA has developed the Foundations of General Practice Nursing Workshops: An orientation for nurses new to general practice.

Designed and facilitated by nurses, this two day workshop is intended to give an overview of the knowledge and key skills required by a nurse transitioning into general practice. General practice nursing is a different and unfamiliar environment to other areas of nursing practice. The foundation program is planned to provide an understanding of roles, responsibilities and skills necessary for nurses working in the primary health/general practice environment.

The workshops have commenced with events held in Melbourne and Sydney and another four to come in Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Brisbane. The attendees appreciated the breadth of experience of the nurses who delivered the presentations on a broad range of topics, from professional practice through to health promotion. Each presenter has been able to provide anecdotes, tips and practical solutions to questions posed, drawing on their experience of working in (or with) general practice.

As important as the presentations are, these two days also give the nurses a chance to talk and connect with others in similar circumstances. For many nurses this is the first experience they’ve had working on their own, and even more challenging for some, as the first nurse the practice has ever employed.

The ability of nurses to connect (and multitask) was made abundantly clear at morning tea. Despite the wound management presentation being filled with graphic pictures of wounds, in varying stages of decay and decomposition, the nurses still managed to talk to others, whilst balancing both a cup of tea/coffee and devouring delicately consuming cake/fruit.

So back to the original question: If you could tell a nurse new to general practice one thing, what would it be? My advice would be, “you have made a good choice in deciding to work in general practice. This is a challenging yet fulfilling environment to work in.”

If you are new to general practice, what have you learned? If you are an experienced general practice nurse what is your advice to new colleagues?

Please add thoughts and comments here.

Advanced Practice Nursing: A title, a role or level of practice?

Australia is preparing for an ambitious and inclusive study into advanced practice nursing and midwifery.

Nurses and midwives currently working in the Australian health system know about the confusion surrounding the title of advanced practice nursing and that the meaning of advanced practice is ambiguous. The many definitions that are offered reflect elements of advanced practice nursing but are not drawn from robust research that takes the question of what is advanced practice to the Australian nursing and midwifery population.

The problem is particularly relevant for nurses working in primary health care where practice by necessity often draws on advanced skills and knowledge but there is no mechanism or framework available for nurses to demonstrate their advanced level of practice.

One advanced practice role that does have certainty, definition and evidence-based standards is the nurse practitioner. This is a specific level and type of practice that is protected and defined by a legislative and practice framework. But this role differs in many ways from other advanced practice roles particularly in the practice scope that is outside the registered nurse scope of practice.

The challenge now is to break the nexus between advanced practice and specific nursing/midwifery roles and titles. Early in 2014 there will be a national survey of all Australian registered nurses and midwives. This survey will achieve two objectives:

i. To map the titles and roles of advanced practice nursing across the eight Australian states and territories, and
ii. To delineate advanced practice from the foundation practice of the registered nurse/midwife and the advanced extended practice of the nurse practitioner.

This planned survey is essential for Australian nursing and midwifery to achieve clarity for the professions and the health industry relating to the service capability of different levels of practice. It also has implications for nursing and midwifery clinicians in career planning and postgraduate education options.

The national census will allow every nurse and midwife in Australia the opportunity to participate in this defining research. There will be further information about the survey in the new year through the Primary Times and other publications. Meanwhile, if you would like more information about the survey you can contact Glenn Gardner by emailing ge.gardner@qut.edu.au or Christine Duffield by emailing christine.duffield@uts.edu.au.

Ear syringing

APNA receives many queries from primary health care nurses about the performance of ear irrigation procedures. Among the most common questions received are:

  • Do I have to be accredited to perform ear irrigation?
  • How do I become accredited in ear irrigation?
  • What do I do when my practice manager has told me I am not covered by the practice insurance to perform this procedure yet the doctors still want me to perform it?
  • Does my PI insurance cover me if something goes wrong when I perform this procedure?

As nurses working in primary health care, we are accountable and responsible for the care we provide. Ultimately, it is our role to certify quality and safety in every task we perform, ensuring the best possible outcome for our patients and for ourselves.

Ear syringing is a good example of an activity in which we need to make a professional judgement. The risks and pitfalls of ear irrigation are many and this is evidenced by the number of medico-legal cases which arise. The ratio of litigation is 1:1000.

Complications and No. of cases
Failure to examine ear prior 5
Excessive pressure 26
Faulty equipment 26
Poor technique 43
Complication Ratio — MDU (Medical Defence Union (UK) Medico legal aspects related to ear syringing).

To meet this professional obligation, nurses who irrigate ears need to be able to demonstrate that they have:

  1. Undertaken ear irrigation in the presence of a mentor or suitably qualified clinician who can confirm the technique, which is sound, best practice, quality and safe. How do you verify you are providing patients with a safe and quality service.
  2. A checklist of the issues that need to be covered in patient history taking and examination.
  3. A protocol for the use of softening agents.
  4. A procedure for checking equipment — to ensure it is in working order at the point of use.
  5. A written procedure for ear irrigation that is evidence-based, current and provides safeguards to the known risks of ear irrigation.
  6. A post-procedure information sheet for patients.
  7. Professional indemnity insurance that covers this activity.

Thinking of ear irrigation as a combination of good skills and knowledge, a safe work system and patient involvement can assist nurses to generalise these questions and put these into practice when other areas of clinical complexity arise. The individual nurse must determine whether performing this procedure is within their scope of practice, according to and provided they can demonstrate the conditions above.

This article was originally published in APNA’s journal magazine Primary Times in September 2011 (page 4) – click here to view the issue online.

Supervision – Enrolled Nurses

What has your experience been?

Supervision is an element of the code of practice of the profession. The prevailing principle is that you have a duty to supervise – this is a broad obligation to the training nurse as well as to the community.

The GP can observe but not supervise an EN. This is according to the regulatory requirements of the EN’s training. Nursing and general practice are two different professions which adhere to separate regulations.

The EN must be supervised directly or indirectly by an RN. Indirect supervision is when the RN is easily contactable but does not directly observe the activities of the EN. The RN may be offsite but must be available for regular, direct communication with the EN. The absence of proximity requires robust processes to be in place for the direction, guidance, support and monitoring of the EN’s activities. While an EN is responsible for their actions, the RN is accountable.

As such, you may be the supervising RN even if you are not on the premises. Or you may have a nurse in another practice working at the same time as the EN in your practice, however, this supervising nurse would need an understanding of the capabilities of the EN they are supervising.

When the EN is carrying out tasks under supervision of a nurse, the task must come under the scope of practice of the supervisor to ensure those tasks are carried out safely. If you are not able to perform a certain task, how can you supervise the EN to perform that task? Do you have competencies in the field to intervene if the EN is about to cause harm? As an RN you are required to determine the EN’s scope of practice.

If you are uncomfortable that the EN is working without supervision of an RN you should make this clear to your employer. It is also useful to have a written record of the arrangement.

APNA recommends that EN’s work under direct RN supervision, but acknowledges in some circumstances this may be the only option. The practice must ensure that patient safety is not compromised and the medico-legal risk of the practice is not increased.

  • What are your thoughts about this information?
  • Have you felt pressure, or have you been put in a situation that you have not felt comfortable about?
  •  Do you have any advice for nurses on how to facilitate EN supervision requirements?

What you had to say…