Book Reviews

Book by Lois J. Zachary & Lory A. Fischler
Review by Michelle M. White
Director of Academic Advisement
Associate Professor, Academic & Student Development
Millersville University


A companion to the best selling books, The Mentor’s Guide and Creating a Mentoring Culture, this practical volume offers ideas and suggestions for making the most of a valuable mentoring opportunity for the mentee. This book completes the three-part collection and provides a comprehensive resource for establishing successful mentor/mentee programs. As the title suggests, it reveals how to prepare, sustain, and bring to closure the mentor/mentee relationship. Although there are many books for mentors, there are fewer for mentees and even fewer that focus specifically on empowering mentees to take an active, creative and self-authored role in their own mentoring relationships. Fischer interviewed more than thirty people of different ages from an array of settings—corporate, educational, nonprofit and small business. The contributors of the book have recorded candid stories and delved into the complex realities of a mentoring relationship. The stories in the book are based on those interviews and the experiences of individuals the authors encountered in multiple settings over the years. 

Mentoring relationships come in all shapes and sizes and include multiple modes (informal and formal) and models—one-on-one, group, reverse mentoring and even a mentoring board of directors. The authors assert that it is important to understand what it means to be a mentoring partner and to fully engage in the relationship. By defining mentoring as a relationship, breaking it down into distinct parts, and identifying specific aspects that are associated with effective mentoring, the book provides flexible, but direct guidance to support mentees in a quest to learn new insights and awareness. Good mentoring depends on effective learning. The authors espouse a new model of mentoring encompassing the value of the mentees engaging actively in their own learning and critically reflecting on their experiences. To be successful, this relationship must have the following elements: reciprocity, learning, relationship, partnership, collaboration, mutually defined goals and development. Pertinent mentee skills include giving and receiving feedback, self-directed learning, building relationships, communication, goal setting, effective listening, follow-through, reflection, initiative and valuing differences.

The authors also recognize that learning style can have a dramatic impact on the mentoring relationship. It influences how mentoring partners work together and discerns what kinds of learning opportunities would work best for the mentee. The book focuses on learning style as defined by Kolb (1984) because of the centrality of learning to the mentoring relationship. A person is a blend of four learning styles—diverging learners, assimilating learners, converging learners and accommodating learners. Each participant needs to be cognizant of the mentoring partner’s style and adjust the learning style to the specific mentor/mentee relationship.

The book provides a roadmap with guideposts along the path from selecting a mentor to transitioning into the role of mentor, creating a viable culture of mentoring and facilitating effective relationships. It is comprehensive, accessible and illustrated with extensive real-life examples from those who have experienced powerful mentoring relationships. Based on solid research, the book presents useful exercises that will be helpful to make the mentor/ mentee relationship productive and affirming. I highly recommend this easy-to-read, highly practical and reliable book that teaches lessons that lead to successful mentoring in cross-cultural and international environments. It would be useful tool, along with the two companion books, in any adviser’s library. Although the guide primarily focuses on mentoring related to work and professional development, its wisdom is applicable to personal mentoring as well. In conclusion, it assists all of us take charge of envisioning and realizing our futures, leading to better lives, and more rewarding and valuable work.

References:

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Zachary, L.J. Creating a Mentoring Culture: The Organization’s Guide. San Francisco: Wiley & Sons, 2005.

Zachary, L.J. The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.


The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You. (2009). Book by Lois J. Zachary & Lory A. Fischler. Review by Michelle M. White. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 148 pp, $25.00. ISBN # 978-0-470-34358-6
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