14 Aug 2017

The Art (and Science) of Excellent Mentoring

The Art (and Science) of Excellent Mentoring

This series provides evidence-based rules of engagement for developing high-impact mentoring relationships and addresses some of the most salient and consistent ethical challenges and tensions for mentors in any organization or context. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

The two-part series includes the following topics:

Becoming a Master Mentor

Learn the interpersonal habits and behavior strategies of Master Mentors, including techniques for forming and managing effective mentorships.

Ethical Issues in Mentoring Relationship

Utilizing a mentoring Code of Ethics and ethics vignettes, this workshop emphasizes the values, attitudes, and behaviors of ethically conscientious mentors.

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21 Jul 2017

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

Leadership: A Three-Part Series

In this 3-part web series, you'll learn the fundamentals of servant leadership, a leader or an organization that seeks first to serve others. The presentations cover effective communication, managing people and processes and positively transforming people and organizations. *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 1 CE credit for each session.

Each program runs about 1 hour:

Leadership and Communication

No communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively.

Leading and Managing People and Processes

In order to accomplish a mission, establishing a process is important. However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Learn the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

It takes strong leadership to help people and an organization transition in order to make a change. Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Learn what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

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20 Jul 2017

Leaders Implementing Positive Change

Leaders and managers should seek to positively transform people and organizations. Do not confuse the words “change” and “transition.” Change is the event, transition is the means of getting there. Certainly it takes a true vision to know where to go and the changes to make. But it takes strong leadership and management knowledge and skills to help the people and the organization transition in order to make the change. Communicator and leadership expert John A. Kline shares from his own experiences and those of others just what it takes to implement positive change by focusing on the transition process.

Learning Objective
Implement positive change.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

 

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17 Jul 2017

Leading and Managing People and Processes

Some leaders and managers focus primarily on the process, task, or mission.  Others focus on the people. Which is best? The military phrase: “Mission First, People Always” says it well.  To be effective, those in charge must focus on both.  Obviously the mission must be accomplished, therefore, the process is important.  However, people complete the processes and ensure the mission is accomplished. Leaders and managers must have a dual focus. Communication and leadership expert John A. Kline, PhD, shares from his experience of managing and leading groups with a handful of people to organizations of thousands.

Learning Objective
Comprehend the importance of maintaining a dual focus on people and processes.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

 

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11 Jul 2017

Leadership and Communication

In one of his published articles, communication expert John A. Kline said, “If you can’t communicate, don’t try to lead.” But what is effective communication? Effective communication is more than just speaking or writing effectively; effective communication is simply the effective sharing of meaning. And no communication skill is more important than listening. Knowing the basic barriers and shortfalls of communication and doing something about them is a big step in improving our ability to communicate effectively. Kline shares basic insights and real life stories about his lifelong quest to become a better communicator.

Learning Objective
Apply skills that improve my communication skills.

John Kline, PhDPresenter
John A. Kline, (PhD, Iowa 1970) was a college professor, then from 1975-2000 the Air Force expert in Communication and Leadership. In 1986 he achieved Civilian (SES) status equivalent to a two-star general. From 1991 until 2000 he was the Air University Provost with responsibility for faculty, academic programs, libraries, technology, budget and support of 50,000 resident and 150,000 distance-learning students annually. Kline has written several books and many published articles, and is now the Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Director of the Troy University Institute for Leadership Development. He focuses on servant leadership and seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

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20 Jun 2017

Stop Wasting Time: Keys to Great Meetings

Stop Wasting Time: Keys to Great Meetings

Whether it's a gathering of health-care providers, faculty, students or a mix, here's how to make your meetings productive

Meetings that start late, last too long and accomplish little can stress attendees far beyond that lost hour, says Steven Rogelberg, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who studies meeting science. Research shows bad meetings can lead to job dissatisfaction, employee fatigue and what he calls "meeting recovery syndrome"—time spent cooling off after a frustrating meeting, which often includes destructive commiseration with colleagues.

"The next thing you know, the weight of the crappy meeting is higher, and it can spill over into other areas of work," he says.

How can everyone make meetings more effective, even enjoyable? The best gatherings happen when meeting leaders view themselves as stewards of everyone else's valuable time, says Rogelberg. Good stewards plan meetings thoughtfully, manage group dynamics, find out in advance why people want to meet and promote other people's contributions rather than their own.

Here is more wisdom from experts for attendees and leaders on how to meet-up better.

Be on time. Arriving late to meetings undermines productivity from the start—and upper management members are often the worst offenders, says Daniel Post Senning, co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and great-great-grandson of manners guru Emily Post. "Often, they believe the rules don't apply to them."

Lateness may cause more than irritation: In a paper under review, Rogelberg and Joseph Allen, PhD, found that when a person showed up less than five minutes late for a meeting, productivity didn't suffer. But when an attendee or leader showed up five to 10 minutes late, "satisfaction, effectiveness and productivity of the meeting dropped dramatically," says Allen, an associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Wallace Dixon, PhD, psychology department chair at East Tennessee State University, leads by example by starting and ending his monthly faculty meeting precisely on time. "If you don't, you insult the people who got there on time, reward the people who got there late and convey to everyone their time isn't that important," he says.

Be prepared. Arriving "late, frazzled, with nothing but a leaky coffee cup doesn't leave a good impression," Senning says. Bring something to take notes with and a steady attention span. Complete any assigned reading in advance. "Nothing is worse than showing up to the meeting and finding that no one has read the documents that [you sent, and] you then have to explain to everyone what they should have read," says Allen.

Make your phone (mostly) invisible. Despite the leave-the-device-at-the-door practice made popular by President Obama and Amazon, in most settings it is considered OK to bring your smartphone to meetings if you keep your attention on the speaker, says Senning. He recommends telling people in advance if you plan to use your phone to take notes or images of PowerPoint slides. But if people are gravitating to their devices in meetings, it may be a sign that the meeting needs to be more engaging, says Rogelberg. "Devices are signals," he says. "Psychologically, the person is trying to regain control of the time."

Diversify the discussion. No one attendee should monopolize the conversation—and no good facilitator should let anyone do it. Dixon says he will pull faculty aside later if they are talking too much in meetings because it bothers other staff and "they will lose faith in you as a leader if you don't handle it," he says. All attendees can share in that responsibility by making an effort to contribute even if public speaking isn't their forte, says Allen. His research has shown that when people make an effort to participate in a meeting—especially when there is a decision-making component—they are happier with the meeting's result and the meeting is more effective.

Move it along. Dixon places a time limit on each discussion item when he plans his faculty meetings and enforces those limits with his smartphone's timer. Another way to prevent run-on discussions and create a sense of urgency, Rogelberg says, is to switch from hourlong weekly or monthly meetings to shorter, more frequent "huddles": 10- to 15-minute meet-ups designed to save time and boost efficiency. If a leader has a difficult time staying on task, any attendee can help move a meeting forward by tactfully redirecting his or her attention to the agenda, says Allen.

Be constructive. Meetings can unravel when attendees cut one another off, dismiss each other, hold side conversations or argue. Avoid such tension, such as by saying, "I agree with some of what you're saying" instead of a short-tempered, "I just don't agree with you," says Brenda Fellows, PhD, of the Haas School of Business, University of California. Along those lines, Dixon advises the department chairs he mentors never to put a contentious issue to a vote in a meeting because it makes people uncomfortable. "Voting only divides, it never unites," he says. "When you resort to a vote, you have stopped talking."

Additional reading

Participate or Else! The Effect of Participation in Decision-Making in Meetings on Employee Engagement
Yoerger, M., Crowe, J., & Allen, J.A. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2015

Meeting Design Characteristics and Attendee Perceptions of Staff/Team Meeting Quality
Cohen, M.A., Rogelberg, S.G., Allen, J.A., & Luong, A. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2011

"Not Another Meeting!" Are Meeting Time Demands Related to Employee Well-Being?
Rogelberg, S.G., Leach, D.J., Warr, P.B., & Burnfield, J.L. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2006

By Jamie Chamberlin


This article was originally published in the December 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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21 Apr 2017

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

Advice from the experts on how to make any presentation sing

Psychologists and graduate students are often called upon to speak to an audience, whether to give a conference presentation, deliver a lecture to a class, lead a meeting or give a talk in the community. But public speaking is a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, and there are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as seeming disorganized or looking down at notes rather than at your audience.

Regardless of how practiced you may be at public speaking, there are some very effective strategies to use to deliver engaging talks. The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TED Talk presenter:

1. Know your audience.
Keep in mind whom you are going to be addressing when you craft your presentation, says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a former APA president who is a professor of human development at Cornell University. Is the audience going to be mainly fellow psychologists, health professionals, other professional groups, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? Knowing whom you are speaking to will help you tailor the talk and will help keep the audience engaged.

2. Keep it simple, especially if you're going to give a talk to a general audience.
"People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn't understand," says Barry Schwartz, PhD, a psychology professor emeritus at Swarthmore College and a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He suggests giving a talk that makes people feel like they're smart and like they want to learn more about the topic. "The curse of knowledge is that once you know something, you forget what it was like when you didn't know it," he says. "I imagine that I'm going to present to my grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education."

3. Emphasize connection over content.
To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content, says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of the 2011 book "The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others." Rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn't effective if they aren't interested in what you are saying. "Be clear about what you want the audience to walk away with when they leave and use that intent as a structure to frame your talk," says Hedges. Your passion for a topic can draw people in; talking without any enthusiasm for the topic can deplete energy in the room and eclipse your message. "Talk to persuade, not just to inform," adds Sternberg.

4. Be authentic.
Some speakers may try to sound like someone they admire instead of being themselves, notes Daniel Gilbert, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University. "Some people try to sing like their favorite singer or dance like their favorite dancer," says Gilbert. "Similarly, some speakers may try to sound like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy." Authenticity—sounding like yourself and using everyday language—is key to getting your message across to an audience, says Gilbert.

5. Diversify your delivery.
People don't learn just by listening—different people learn in different ways, says Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, APA's 2016 president. Use visual tools (such as slides or a video), incorporate research and tell stories. Anecdotes can be a particularly effective way to connect with an audience. "It could be a story about yourself, especially if you're using humor and making fun of yourself," says McDaniel. One important tip to keep in mind about multimedia presentations: Don't let the technology obscure what you're trying to say, says Schwartz. "PowerPoint is incredibly powerful, but use it to get halfway there, rather than expecting it to do the whole job for you," he says.

6. Shake it up.
Another reason to use different media in your talk is to make it more dynamic and compelling. "Using mixed media creates energy and vibrancy," says Hedges. Think about ways to use slides, video, audio, handouts, props and even spontaneous smartphone polls to engage your audience. You might, for instance, start with a video and then use powerful images later in your talk, says Hedges. Or you can begin with an engrossing question and use the audience feedback as data with polling software such as Poll Everywhere.

7. Stick to your points.
Before you talk, determine your main points and outline them, says McDaniel. Some people refer to notes on stage while others may use PowerPoint or Keynote slides as prompts. One cautionary tip: Avoid simply putting the text of your speech in slides. "Writing out the words you'll be saying on slides is boring," says McDaniel. "Slides should be used for emphasis."

8. Know the setup.
Have a run-through in the space you'll be speaking at if possible, especially if you'll be talking in front of a large audience. Test the tech system during that practice run to troubleshoot possible problems in advance. For instance, the sound may not run properly with your video or your slides may be set up behind you (which would mean you'll have to constantly turn your head to see where you are in your talk).

9. Don't lecture the whole time.
Keep in mind that people don't have long attention spans. If you need to explore a topic deeply, use humor, an engaging video or other media to present various aspects of the topic. You can also break up a long talk by posing questions to the audience, suggests Hedges.

10. Leave time for questions.
Talking until the last minute is a common mistake many speakers make, says Hedges. If you have an hourlong presentation, plan for 45 minutes of talking and 15 minutes for questions.

A Ted Talk on Ted Talks: To watch a video on how to give a great talk, go to www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_teds_secret_to_great_public_speaking.

By Katherine Lee


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21 Apr 2017

Take Charge! Advice From Leaders to Early Career Psychologists

Take Charge! Advice From Leaders to Early Career Psychologists
When Jerrold Yeo moved from Singapore to the United States to start graduate school in clinical psychology, he was surprised to find that there were lots of leadership opportunities for students at APA, such as serving on boards and committees and advocating on behalf of psychology on Capitol Hill.

"In my own country, there were a lot of barriers to getting student voices heard and implementing changes," says Yeo, now a fifth-year graduate student at the University of Denver. "I wanted to make use of the freedom to be heard in this country."

Yeo initially assumed his chances of being selected for a leadership role were slim because he had little experience, but he applied anyway. He was delighted when he was chosen to be a member of the Convention Committee for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS), a position he held from 2013 to 2015. As he made connections within the organization, he started getting invitations for other leadership positions, such as serving as an APAGS representative to the Global Approaches to Integrated Health Care Summit, where he met psychology leaders from China, England, Norway and the United States. Now as a member-at-large with a practice focus on the APAGS Committee, Yeo is one of nine elected officers who advocate for graduate students and discuss new policies within APA.

The experience has been invaluable for his career growth, he says. "These leadership roles have taught me to be more confident, to be a better speaker and to negotiate," Yeo says. "It's a great way to find your own voice and learn what it's like to be a leader."

Yeo's advice to others who are considering leadership is to start by trying. "If you don't try, you'll never know where you might be successful," he says. "And don't let rejection discourage you." Yeo was rejected from multiple positions throughout his journey, and initially he took these experiences personally. "But now I understand that it's not about whether I'm good enough or have a flaw in my character. If I'm not the best person at that moment, there is probably another position for me that is a better fit."

The Monitor asked psychologists involved in leadership to share tips about how graduate students and early career psychologists can break into these roles. Here are their suggestions.

Determine what excites you. Look for leadership opportunities in an area that deeply interests you, says Sandra Shullman, PhD, a managing partner of the Executive Development Group, an international leadership development and consulting firm. "Effective leadership involves having a passion for what you are doing," she says. "You will meet like-minded souls you can learn from, and some of those people may become role models." Pursuing leadership in an area of interest can also help leaders grow during stressful times. For example, she's seen newer leaders struggle when they make decisions that displease certain people. They learn how to find the courage to do something, even if it's unpopular, and "they are more likely to do that in an area they have passion for."

Start small. Look for leadership opportunities at state and regional psychology associations, says Daniel Reimer, PhD, who recently earned a doctoral degree in behavioral psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. He started learning how to organize conventions by joining a committee with the Nevada Psychological Association. That experience helped him land a two-year position as chair of the APAGS Convention Committee in 2013. Another entry point could be serving as a student representative for an APA division, a state, provincial and territorial psychological association or the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team, a network of graduate students who engage in legislative advocacy and awareness, he says. For those who enjoy working on projects, serving on a task force or special project within an organization is another way to get experience and to observe how others lead, says Shullman, who is also a member of the APA Board of Directors.

Do it well. Once you get a volunteer leadership position, follow through on everything you are asked to do, says Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, a former APA president and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. "You get a reputation quickly as someone who follows through or not," she says. She served in leadership roles on various APA committees earlier in her career and was always careful not to take on more tasks than she could do well.

Find leadership mentors. Kaslow encourages psychologists to find mentors who can provide guidance, feedback and connections. Potential mentors may surface in a variety of places, such as psychology departments, postdoctoral programs, state psychology associations and APA divisions and committees. She's also seen the benefits of peer mentoring. Kaslow and her colleagues recently surveyed graduate students and early career psychologists who had served as chair of APAGS or of APA's Committee on Early Career Psychologists during the last seven years and found that a combination of peer and senior mentoring seems to be "the ideal plan" because they have different strengths. A senior mentor can help mentees understand an organization's system, introduce them to people and share past experiences. But a peer can say, "I just tried doing something similar, and here is how it went," Kaslow says.

Find areas of need. Keith Micoli, PhD, was a postdoctoral fellow when he started feeling isolated because he wasn't part of a cohort or department like the graduate students at his school. After talking to other fellows, he quickly discovered he wasn't alone. To solve this problem, Micoli decided to launch a postdoctoral association at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When he approached the university with the idea, he shared how a group for postdocs would benefit the institution by increasing postdoc satisfaction. "If you want to solve a problem, you'll increase your chances of support if you go beyond your personal need and consider the value to the institution," Micoli says. This experience led to connections on a national level, and now he's the director of postdoctoral affairs at the NYU School of Medicine.

Say yes. Melanie Lantz, PhD, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at Louisiana Tech University, wasn't looking for leadership opportunities during her first year of graduate school. But then several professors started encouraging students to apply for the Student Affiliates of Seventeen, or SAS, an organization for students associated with APA's Div. 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) and Lantz applied. She ended up co-chairing SAS, which included serving on the Div. 17 executive board. Through the experience, she learned about APA's governance structure and the professional issues in the field. Now she's chair-elect of Div. 17's Early Career Professionals Committee and chair of the division's Hospitality Space Committee for the next convention. "If someone hadn't tapped me to apply for a leadership role when I was a new graduate student, I probably wouldn't have gotten involved," Lantz says. "If you are tapped to lead or serve, take those opportunities."

Attend conferences. Conferences and conventions are critical for networking, psychology leaders say. "Introduce yourself and get yourself out there," Yeo says. "When I attended conventions and division conferences, I met people who encouraged me to apply to certain leadership positions that were open." It's also important to develop and practice a 30-second elevator speech to introduce yourself to new people, says Helen L. Coons, PhD, president and clinical director of Health Psychology Solutions in Colorado and a member of APA's Board of Directors. Although the speech will vary depending on the audience, in general it's effective to share your name, your specialty and your interest in learning more about leadership opportunities, she says.

Seek out training. Look for leadership training programs offered by APA, state psychology associations and other organizations. Div. 17, for example, offers the Society of Counseling Psychology Leadership Academy for students and early career psychologists. When Kaslow started getting involved in leadership, she knew she needed to develop a new set of competencies, which prompted her to apply for leadership training programs offered by her university, the American Association of Medical Colleges and the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program. She also secured fellowships through organizations like the U.S. Public Health Service to learn about public policy and other aspects of leadership.

Ask for feedback. While securing a leadership position is valuable, you can make the most if it by gathering input along the way, Shullman says. After leading a meeting, check in with a colleague to learn what went well and what could be improved. "Let people know that if something is bothering them, you would like to hear from them," she says. "Create an environment that invites feedback so you can gauge how you're doing and make midcourse corrections," Shullman says.

By Heather Stringer


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24 Oct 2016

Mentorships for Life

Mentorships for Life

Your mentor-mentee relationship is an important predictor of your future success. Learn how to keep those relationships strong.

By Dr. Alice G. Walton
Print version: page 26

Finding the right mentor in graduate school is one of the most important — and often trickiest — parts of your grad school experience. There are lots of ways to define "mentor," but typically he or she is more than an academic advisor. Mentors offer moral support, serve as sounding boards and help you prepare for life after grad school, both professionally and personally.

The mentor-mentee relationship shouldn't be thought of as optional, says Laura Gail Lunsford, PhD, a psychology professor who studies mentoring at the University of Arizona. A poor match — or not having a mentor at all — not only can lead to an unpleasant grad school experience, it can also undermine your career prospects, she says. "Our research has found that after financial support, having a good relationship with one's mentor was the best predictor of future success, [such as] the number of publications and presentations down the road."

And, after financial support, the mentor-mentee relationship is also the best predictor of whether you graduate from a doctoral program at all, according to the Council for Graduate Studies.

What does it take to find a good mentor and cultivate that relationship? We asked mentoring researchers, faculty and grad students for their insights.

Start early

Mentors and mentees should pair up late in undergrad or early in grad school, says Lunsford. Developing relationships as an undergraduate can help lay the groundwork for graduate school and set you up for future success, according to her study, published in Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. Specifically, early mentoring led to more satisfied grad students who made more presentations and faster progress.

"When you develop these connections as an undergraduate, you'll already have a community that's excited to greet you when you show up at the graduate level," says York University psychology grad student Jeremy Trevelyan Burman.

That said, don't panic if you don't have a mentor by the end of your first year of graduate school. "Start talking to successful third- and fourth-year graduate students and find out who their mentors are," says Lunsford. "Ask to be introduced to them and you will ultimately find a good match."

Grab the reins

Don't hang back and wait to be chosen by a faculty member, says W. Brad Johnson, PhD, a psychology professor who studies mentoring at the U.S. Naval Academy. "Drop by for discussions and stay after class to chat," he suggests.

Research shows that we tend to like people we see often, so hang around the department, take potential advisors' colloquia and visit them during their office hours, Johnson adds. Becoming knowledgeable about potential mentors' work and showing them that you're interested is the best way to recruit a mentor, he says.

Collect 'em all

It's tempting to envision that perfect mentor who will mold you into a great researcher, professor or clinician. But this is a romanticized notion, says Johnson. In reality, mentors come in many forms, and each can provide a different type of support. Some may assist you better in the professional realm, helping you gain grants, apply for jobs and accomplish other career-related tasks. Other mentors can serve more "psychosocial functions," such as helping you balance your professional and personal lives and offering moral support.

Both types are important, and when it comes to picking mentors, his research has found the more you have, the better. "Patch together a network of people to gain experience from," Johnson says. "The happiest, most successful people have a constellation of mentors." This group can include more advanced grad students, faculty members from other departments or even family members, he says.

Don't force the relationship

You may want your academic advisor to be your mentor also, but things don't always work out that way — and that's OK. "Your research advisor can just be your research advisor," says Jeffrey E. Barnett, PsyD, a researcher who studies the mentor-mentee relationship at Loyola University Maryland. This is where the constellation of mentors comes in: If your advisor is brilliant at pointing out methodological flaws in your work but can't offer you career advice or moral support, find another person in your department or even outside it who can. This way, you can still reap the benefits that your advisor offers without missing out on the guidance a mentor can provide.

Be an eager beaver

Once you've found your grad school mentors, dive into the experience to get everything out of it you can. "When I offer advice, I want students to rise to the occasion," Johnson says. So show your mentors how you put their coaching into practice. If they suggest you use an alternative technique in the lab, tell them how it worked out. Or if your mentors shared a clinical skill, let them know how it worked with your own clients. Taking your mentor's advice and sharing your successes communicate that you really want to be there and are benefiting from the relationship, Johnson says. Mentors want to know that they're helping you, and they'll feel good that you're getting what you came to grad school for.

Learn to accept criticism

Students who are reluctant to take advice or constructive criticism tend not to do as well as students who are more receptive to their mentors' advice. After all, your mentors aren't just there to cheer you on. They are trying to help you prepare for a career and, therefore, must be honest about your weaknesses. "Accept praise and criticism with openness and nondefensiveness," says Johnson. "Mentees who can tolerate and learn from correction are more likely to be mentored." If you find yourself deeply hurt or offended by your mentor's markup of your dissertation proposal, take a step back and remind yourself of the goal. Critiques are meant to evaluate and improve your work — not you as a person, Johnson says.

Scratch your mentor's back

Figuratively, that is. Mentors work hard on your behalf, says Johnson, and it's important to give something back to the relationship. "When possible, offer your mentor assistance with projects that might simultaneously afford you experience and supervision," he says. Offer to set up that new piece of lab equipment, or draft a section of a grant proposal. This way, you'll gain some good experience while also lightening your mentor's workload.

Say thanks

Make sure your mentors know that you value the relationship and the direction they are providing. "This doesn't mean you have to give your mentor a Starbucks gift card or bring breakfast every morning," says Barnett, "but make sure you're gracious and respectful of your mentor's time and efforts." Show up to appointments on time, be honest about your progress and challenges, and make sure to thank your mentors for their help and guidance every now and again.

Know it's worth the effort

Learning how to develop and nurture mentor-mentee relationships isn't easy, but it will pay off long after you've earned your degree, says Leigh Ann Carter, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Loyola. "My relationship with my mentor is something that will continue beyond graduate school," she says. "Mentoring will serve as a bridge linking my graduate training to the early stages of my professional career and beyond." Whether you continue to a career in academe, private practice, government or private industry, you'll need to tap the advice of people who have gone before you. So get out there and begin laying the groundwork for mentorships that will last a lifetime.


Interested in Mentorship? Read our collection of articles on Mentorship curated specially for APA members and affiliates.

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29 Jul 2016

Develop Your Leadership Skills

This webinar explores what it is like to be an early career psychologist involved in APA leadership.

Why Serve on an APA Board or Committee?

Serving on APA boards and committees provides opportunities for leadership development and to impact the field and direction of psychology as a whole. It is challenging, rewarding work on a team of people who are at diverse levels of specialty and training who work in different settings and are at different stages in their careers.

About the Webinar

The webinar "Develop Your Leadership Skills: Get Involved in APA Boards and Committees" has everything early career psychologists need to know to get started. The Committee on Early Career Psychologists presents what, why and how early career psychologists are changing and influencing APA governance and the discipline worldwide and how you can get involved. Also, get information on how APA is organized, what APA committees and boards do and get answers to frequently asked questions about leadership positions.

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