Things to consider before you meet a mentee
Your first meeting is vital because it will set the tone of the relationship.
- What is my purpose for mentoring this person?
- What do I need to know about my mentee?
- What does my mentee need to know about me?
- Are there any barriers to me being an effective mentor? If so, what can I do to overcome them?
Key principles in building a trusted relationship
Mutual trust and respect between you and your mentee should be key. Your mentee’s trust in you will depend on your ability to show that your care, on your competence and integrity.
- Get to know your mentee. Talk about their role, organisation and their life outside it. Try to understand what they think and why. Value their viewpoint. Be aware of your and their body language
- Do what you say you are going to do. Agree what you are aiming to achieve through your mentoring sessions. Be reliable and always do what you say you are going to do.
- Communicate openly and honestly. Discuss issues as soon as they arise. Ask for and give feedback.
- Don’t be afraid to challenge. Your open, honest relationship will allow you to challenge your mentee constructively to explore a wider viewpoint. Challenge inconsistencies and assumptions in a sensitive and appropriate way to open up possibilities – not shut them down.
- Be mindful of cultural or societal differences. There may be times where something doesn’t translate, or you may assume something which turns out to be wrong. Acknowledge this, and talk about how best to deal with it together in future if it should arise again. You can always reach out to the firstname.lastname@example.org for extra support.
The following questions might be useful to consider when preparing to be mentored:
- What is my purpose for seeking mentoring? What am I hoping to get from it?
- What do I need to know about my mentor?
- What does my mentor need to know about me?
- What type of support do I need from my mentor? Are there any particular agreements I need to seek from them (e.g. level of challenge, confidentiality agreements, meeting arrangements etc)?
- Are there any barriers to me getting the most from mentoring? If so, what can I do to overcome these?
- How will I know if the mentoring arrangement is working? What is a successful outcome?
The mentee’s role is to:
- Own and take responsibility for content. The purpose of mentoring is to work on your professional development. The mentor’s role is not to solve your problems for you or provide quick fixes.
- Be open to developing your self-awareness and to making changes.
- Be open to what the mentor has to say and their advice; this does not mean you have to agree with it. It does mean you should receive it, reflect upon it and decide later whether you agree and whether to act on it.
- Reflect between sessions on what has been discussed and make sure you follow through on any action points.
- Be mindful of cultural or societal differences. Some suggestions or advice might not necessarily work for your context, discuss this with your mentor.