Building a Mentoring Relationship

Expectations and Responsibilities

The most important component of mentoring and one of the key factors of its success lies in the quality of the relationship. However, this does not mean that you necessarily have to be compatible or end up as 'best friends', but it does require that you are effective in assisting the mentee.

Some general guidelines in assisting you to build the relationship:

Although it is important to establish the relationship through sharing information about yourself, particularly in relationship to specialised knowledge and work/career experiences, this does not mean that you need to share your whole 'life history' or extensive personal information

The establishment of trust is critical to the relationship so ensure that you keep everything that is said confidential, unless the mentee gives you permission to share any information with others
Be honest and genuine. Don't try to 'impress' your mentee with a huge list of your achievements. This could potentially make them feel inadequate and inferior and could affect the relationship
Learn to be a good listener. Although there is a perception that mentors will do most of the talking, this does not mean that what you say is necessarily interesting or relevant to the mentee's goals. The ability to listen and explore the mentee's thinking is a critical skill
Ensure that you treat the mentee with respect. Even though your mentee may be less experienced than you, does not mean that you need to 'patronise' them or push your solutions. Remember what worked for you in establishing your career may not necessarily work for them

Try to 'and see things from their perspective, even if the solutions or strategies seem simple to you, for your mentee they may be quite difficult to achieve.Avoid telling your mentee too many 'war stories' which can turn into your own nostalgic indulgence- remember it's about THEM.

While it is important to encourage and stretch your mentee, it is important to proceed at their pace, not yours, otherwise they may sense they are 'failing' to reach your standards

For additional tips on mentoring watch this video: 'Mentoring Others'.