METM22 Chronicles: Louise Normandière

Mentoring: human support in a digital world

Louise Normandière’s talk on mentoring was particularly fitting given that the theme of this year’s METM was the personal touch. In her role as a regional contributor to the SFT Boussole mentoring programme, Louise has gained extensive experience both as a mentor and in pairing up translators for mentorships.

Louise began by talking about exactly what mentoring is and what it isn’t, highlighting the fact that a mentoring relationship is all about someone teaching a less experienced person about their job or a certain subject and shouldn’t be viewed as a training course or a source of work. She briefly covered the various benefits of taking part in a mentorship programme and pointed out that while many people often think these programmes are only beneficial to the mentee, mentors can actually learn a lot too.

Louise then went on to discuss what makes a good and legitimate mentor. She explained that even though many people feel that they need to be able to answer all of the questions a mentee might throw at them or that they simply don’t have enough experience themselves, this isn’t the case. Often, simply sharing insights and resources (even if they may seem obvious to you) can be incredibly helpful. She also mentioned how important it is for mentors to be approachable, honest, diplomatic (particularly when giving feedback) and willing to listen and learn.

She spoke about what should be considered when setting up a mentorship and shared what she personally takes into account when pairing up mentors and mentees for the SFT Boussole programme. As well as making sure the mentor and mentee have similar specialisms and language pairs, it is also important to consider their geographical location: if they are in separate time zones, for example, this can cause communication issues.

From here, Louise moved on to other potential pitfalls people might run into in a mentorship and provided some solutions. For example, she explained how a lack of affinity can be overcome by focusing on specific questions or issues. One point I found particularly interesting, and hadn’t really thought about before, is just how important it is to have a clear plan for a mentorship and to lay out expectations at the start to help avoid confusion and disappointment down the line.

Louise rounded off her talk by summing up the keys to a good mentorship:

  • Setting up a clear framework
  • Establishing confidentiality and trust
  • Clarifying expectations from the outset
  • Agreeing on logistics
  • Asking astute questions and practising active listening
  • Providing constructive and diplomatic feedback

We finished off with an interesting discussion and Q&A session where several attendees shared their own experiences with mentorship programmes in different countries. Having taken part in the SFT Boussole mentoring programme myself this year, and personally benefitted from Louise’s experience in the translation industry and expertise in marketing, I have experienced how beneficial it can be for new translators to work with a mentor, but it was very interesting to hear about mentoring from a mentor’s point of view too.

This METM22 presentation was chronicled by Alice Quinn.

Featured photo by METM22 photographer Jone Karres.

5 thoughts on “METM22 Chronicles: Louise Normandière

  1. Thanks Alice, you captured everything that was covered in the talk. It was great to hear about other people’s experiences in mentoring too, as the one-to-one nature of it means that every partnership is different.

    1. Thanks Louise! Yes I agree – it was interesting to hear how different mentorship schemes are set up and function too.

  2. I would have attended this presentation were it not for a clash with something I had committed to. I see from the SFT Boussole site that the mentorships last one year. That seems like quite a long time, unless the frequency of the face-to-face meetings is monthly/every three weeks. When it first started in 2015, APTRAD’s mentoring programme involved one hour of face time a week for three months. That was rather intense (for me as a mentor, at any rate). Last year, I mentored someone privately (i.e., not in a programme affiliated to any organisation) by request, and we managed a Skype session almost every week for about six months, which seemed to be the natural life of that endeavour. I would agree that the learning process is definitely a two-way street.

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