Mentorship Matters - How to Build Confidence Through Mentorship
Lack of Confidence Is A Concern For New Graduates
Two recent surveys revealed that lack of confidence is an issue with new graduates, especially those in large animal practice. My conversations with veterinarians confirms this and that the main reasons seem to be the low number of cases that allow experience to be gained, the absence of a safety net when they go out on calls on their own, and the added pressure of working in the presence of the client. Even seasoned veterinarians vividly recall how uncomfortable they felt during their first farm call.
While some things could probably be done to deal with the caseloads, safety nets and clients, the focus of this article is to present tools that you can put to use right now in your practice to help new veterinarians better transition from school to practice.
You Are Part of the Equation
How you interact with new vets directly impacts their level of confidence. Every clinic, or business for that matter, has a way of dealing with errors or shortcomings. How you deal with these in your clinic in turn influences the confidence you create in those around you.
In most situations, the knowledge is there, it is just held stifled by the overwhelming desire of not wanting to make a mistake. It is like watching a championship team unravel after a few errors are committed and the team falls behind on the scoreboard. Even basic skills of the game become challenging when confidence is lacking.
You can help build confidence
Mentorship, of course, plays a big role in building confidence. More specifically, how you communicate during a mentorship conversation impacts confidence. Mentorship is about asking questions that help people think, problem solve and commit to action. Good mentors ask open-ended questions that get the mentees solve problems, gain confidence and become motivated. Great mentors do so in a way that grows confidence as well as knowledge.
Five questions that help build confidence
Here are five questions that you can ask your mentee to help boost their confidence as they work through a procedure or are dealing with a difficult decision.
1. What is similar in the situation?
2. What is already working?
3. What has worked for you before?
4. What are you proud of?
5. What challenging barriers have you overcome in the past?
The basis for these questions is to help the mentee see familiarity in the current situation. This helps them realize that they have experienced something like this before and have the capability and knowledge to see it through. It provides perspective and makes them anchor into the past successes. Perhaps most importantly, it sends a clear signal that you are supportive of them and acknowledge their abilities.
Next time the occasion presents itself; try one of the questions above. You might be surprised how much impact a few well-chosen words can have.