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Book review
3 January 2015
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A great guide to developing your mentoring skills as a Doctor

Review by Alexis Hutson of the FMLM Coaching Network.

The Mentoring Manual by Julie Starr is a straightforward and highly accessible introduction to the world of mentoring. But that does not mean it is easy material to absorb, or requires little effort to think about. Starr introduces the reader to concepts that are deep and complex, but she does this clearly and with practical exercises, which is very engaging.

If you are a doctor who is a Mentor, Mentee or just interested, this book will be of value. As she did with The Coaching Manual, Starr makes sure this book is practical. She ensures that all the stages of the mentoring relationship are covered with in-depth descriptions and examples that encourage the reader to apply the theories and tools in the moment. This is important. For Starr, ultimately we learn the most from practice.

We hear a lot about mentoring and the importance of it in the medical world, but it is still shrouded in mystery to some extent. Because we can’t see it - it’s a private conversation – it’s hard to imagine what actually goes on. What Julie does is describe and illustrate what happens so that the reader is able to form a comprehensive picture of mentoring and how they might fit into it.

Recent research conducted at Ashridge Business School suggests the single greatest predictor of a successful coaching (or mentoring) arrangement is the quality of the relationship between the two people. Starr focuses on this wisely. As a new mentor, you can easily get distracted by which mentoring model to use or what conversation structure to adopt. But that’s all secondary for Starr. Getting the basics right so that trust is formed through benevolence and respect is a central theme for her. She reminds us that being impartial, not taking responsibility and maintaining equality are crucial.

For new mentors, this is often a fresh way of handling a professional relationship and its conversations. So to help us reflect on this approach Starr describes features such as listening, attention, intention, focus and ego that are very important. Chapters four and six are particularly useful for this. And chapter five is a great checklist and ‘how to’ of managing the journey of the relationship from beginning to end. 

As an experienced coach and mentor for NHS Doctors I would recommend this book. It gives you all the important basics and lots of insightful examples to aid your development, whether you provide mentoring formally or informally. I am often asked to help establish mentoring programmes or train mentors and mentees, and I would use this book to support their learning because it focuses on what’s really important in mentoring; people and their individual development.

For the interview with Julie Starr Click Here

Access Julie's Mentoring Manual resources at Starr Consulting

Alexis Hutson is an indépendant coach and mentor working with Doctors to develop their leadership and management skills and is a part of the FMLM Coach Network. 

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