Tips to consider if you’re considering finding or being a mentor

Tips to consider if you’re considering finding or being a mentor

27th February 2023, 1:46 pm

Mentoring has been shown to be beneficial for both Mentors and Mentees. One study even showed that those engaged in Mentoring within the workplace experienced a reduction in stress.

But you may have had an experience which didn’t have that favourable outcome, which fizzled out or became just an occasional coffee because, unless both mentor and mentee respect some key principles, the mentoring won’t be effective.

Cath Brown of, who offers both online and face to face training on how to mentor and be mentored, offers some tips to help you get the most out of mentoring.

1. Understand what is meant by mentoring

My favourite definition is that it’s a relationship formed with a specific purpose – for the mentor to help the mentee with their learning and development with a specific aim – but with both ensuring that the mentee remains responsible for their results.

And it’s important to understand that the mentor is not a coach, a therapist, nor just a friend.

Nor should being mentoring be seen as a sign of weakness. Make sure both parties are approaching mentoring with the same understanding.

2. Establish the purpose and scope of the mentoring relationship.

It is quite common for companies or organisations to launch a mentoring scheme and match mentors with mentees without anybody giving proper thought to the aims of those involved. If the

mentee know what it is they want to achieve, they will be much better placed to find the right mentor and make the mentoring work for them.

The relationship is also much more likely to stay on track if it has a clear purpose.

3. Match with care

Whether you are being matched as part of a scheme or it is a separate relationship organised by the mentor and the mentee, the matching matters.

Remember, mentoring is different from coaching. The mentor should have relevant knowledge and experience to call upon to help the mentor in their learning and development.

So it is a good idea for both mentors and mentees to be clear about what they want from the mentoring and what they bring to it. I work with who can help you automate this process for schemes, whereas individuals probably need to start with some reflection and an honest conversation.

4. Make a strong start by contracting with each other

In this context “contracting” means setting the rules or boundaries that will govern the relationship.

You will want to think about how, when and where you will meet and for how long as a minimum.

You will probably also want to consider what falls within the scope of the mentoring and what doesn’t together with what you will do if something goes wrong and how you will both respect confidentiality.

5. Communicate openly and with honesty

Feedback is essential in a great mentoring relationship. You need to be able to speak to each other freely and respectfully about what is and isn’t working.

In the absence of honest communication, problems will fester and, occasionally, relationships fade away into nothing.

Far better to address issues as they arise and move on with greater knowledge and understanding.

And whilst you will have agreed how you will work together and the purpose of the mentoring, it is important to be flexible.

6. Remain willing to learn

This applies to both mentor and mentee.

Whilst the mentor will have more or different experience than the mentee, the mentor will be able to learn from the mentee’s experiences and will undoubtedly learn more about how to help their

mentee if they listen to what they say rather than just dictating to them about their own experiences.

7. Celebrate successes

In many relationships there is a tendency to focus on the negative but, by building in mutual feedback and reflection, both mentor and mentee can ensure that achievements are identified and recognised along the way.

In turn this builds motivation and strengthens the relationship, making it much less likely to drift.

8. End as strongly as you started

Ideally you will have contemplated the end of the mentoring relationship from the outset and discussed it in your contracting.

You can also agree what the process will be if either of you wants to end the mentoring relationship earlier than anticipated.

Either way, the end of a mentoring relationship is a great opportunity to reflect on the learning and capture what you’d like to do differently, or to do more of next time around.

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