This month’s topic is
important to your mentor and to you. Since your mentoring
relationships exist mainly for your growth and success,
it makes sense for you to monitor those relationships and ensure
they’re as good as they can be.
Based on many years of observing mentoring relationships, The
Mentoring Group found that mentoring relationships tend to be
more satisfying for both parties when certain elements are
in place and when both the mentor and the mentee take
We invite you to take a look at one or two of the mentoring relationships
you’re in, especially those that are at least somewhat formalized.
(You can also look at any totally informal relationships
you have; but realize that these are more difficult to assess
and as a mentee, they’re more difficult to shape or influence.)
One idea is to look at a formal mentoring relationship that seems
to be succeeding and another that doesn’t feel completely
right to you. Read over the following elements, and begin thinking
what is and isn’t a strength in those relationships. Next
month you’ll have a chance to assess more formally your
performance on each of these factors.
Key Ingredients of Intentional/Planned/Formal Mentoring
This relationship is a high priority for both of you. You consider
finding mentors and being a responsible mentee as one of the most
important growth steps you can take. You and your mentor are clear
on why you’re together and the reasons you’re meeting.
You’ve discussed and agreed upon what you’ll work
on, and you’ll recognize when you’ve met your purpose.
You feel good about the focus of your relationship and what you’re
doing in it. From time to time you check in to see if you should
change your purpose or focus in some way. When you’ve accomplished
the goal or goals of your relationship, you’re willing to
see the partnership shift focus or perhaps end for the time being.
You communicate in the ways (in person, phone, text messaging,
email, mail) you both prefer. You get back to your mentor in the
timeframe you’ve agreed upon. Your mentor generally does
the same. The communication between you adds up to at least one
or two hours a month and is frequent enough for both of you. You’re
an effective listener, and you remember what your mentor tells
you. You ask appropriate questions, and your mentor responds.
You share information about yourself. You monitor your nonverbal
language to be sure it's conveying what you want it to. You invite
your mentor to give you suggestions for how you can communicate
better, and you try these out in a timely manner.
The trust between you is growing. You welcome and keep in confidence
the information your mentor shares with you. Your mentor knows
he/she can count on you to be honest and to follow through on
your promises. You avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as
canceling appointments without compelling reasons, talking negatively
about others, or making excuses about why you can’t follow
through on commitments. You’re increasingly sharing more
of yourself and are becoming less guarded than when this mentoring
Your meetings and other interactions are moving along at the
right pace. You meet often enough to suit you both, and those
sessions are usually the right length. You both like where you’re
meeting. You enjoy the 2-4 hours of effort you devote to follow
through on agreements between your mentoring sessions. You’re
aware of the four stages of formal mentoring (planning, building
relationship/negotiating agreement, developing the mentee/maintaining
momentum, and ending the formal mentoring part of the relationship)
and are carefully moving through them. You like how you operate
as a mentoring pair and check in with each other to see if you’re
You’ve made it easy for your mentor to help you identify
appropriate life goals and build competencies to reach those goals.
You take the lead on identifying interesting learning experiences
and report the results of these to your mentor. You’ve made
significant progress toward your goals since starting to meet
with your mentor. You’re also making notable progress in
your ability to be mentored.
You told your mentor how you wanted positive and corrective feedback.
When you receive positive feedback, you express your thanks and
use the information to reinforce your efforts. When you receive
corrective feedback, you’re non-defensive and take immediate
steps to apply it. You remember to give your mentor positive feedback
about his/her mentoring and other things he/she has shared. If
agreed upon, you give your mentor suggestions for improvement.
For more learning on these critical factors, check Tip
for Mentors. You’ll see that your mentor has corresponding
responsibilities to make your relationship a success.
See you next month when you’ll have a chance to rate yourself
on each of these factors and behaviors. For more ideas on being
an effective mentee, check our Archive