Whether your mentoring relationship is
thriving or merely coasting along, it makes sense to take a close
look at it now and then to see what is and isn’t working
The Mentoring Group has found that planned mentoring relationships
tend to produce more satisfaction for both parties when certain
elements are in place and when both the mentor and the
mentee take active roles. (These can also occur in totally
informal or what are called enhanced informal
relationships. However, the factors are much more difficult to
assess and influence without explicit agreements between you and
your informal mentees.)
We invite you to take a look at one or two of your more intentional
or formal mentoring relationships, perhaps one 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 your performance
formally on these factors.
Key Ingredients of Intentional/Planned/Formal Mentoring
This relationship is a high priority for both of you. You consider
being a mentor as one of the main purposes of your life. You and
your mentee 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
completed 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 that purpose or focus
in some way. When you’ve accomplished the purpose of your
relationship, you’re willing to see the relationship shift
focus or perhaps end for the time being.
You communicate in the ways (in person, phone, email, mail) you
both prefer. You get back to your mentee in the timeframe you’ve
agreed upon. Your mentee 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 mentee tells you. You ask appropriate questions,
and your mentee responds. You share information about yourself.
You monitor your nonverbal language to be sure it's conveying
what you want it to. You help your mentee recognize how he/she
is communicating and, where appropriate, you make suggestions
The trust between you is growing. You welcome and keep in confidence
the information your mentee shares with you. Your mentee knows
he/she can count on you to be honest yet safe 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 unfairly criticizing your mentee. You’re
increasingly sharing more of yourself and are becoming less guarded
than when you first got together.
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’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 helping guide your mentee through
them. You like how you operate as a mentoring pair and check in
with each other to see if you’re both satisfied.
You’re helping your mentee identify appropriate life goals
and build competencies to reach those goals. You help him/her
identify interesting learning experiences and process the results
of these together. Your mentee has made significant progress toward
the goals since starting to meet with you. You’re making
significant progress in your ability to mentor.
You asked your mentee how he/she wanted positive and corrective
feedback from you. You’re doing your best to give this feedback
in an honest and tactful manner and as frequently as agreed upon.
You give your mentee much more positive reinforcement than you
give correction. When you give your mentee feedback, you observe
how he/she applies it and, if necessary, mention points again.
You invited him/her to give you positive and corrective feedback
on how you’re doing as a mentor. When you receive feedback,
you’re non-defensive and take immediate steps to apply it.
For more learning on these critical factors, check Tip
for Mentees. You’ll see that your mentee has similar
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 mentor, check our Archive
and Products. If you haven’t
yet, consider ordering a copy of The Mentor’s
Guide and 75 Things to Do with Your Mentees.