Building the Relationship

Mentoring Expectations and Managing the Relationship

One of the most important components to an effective mentor/mentee relationship is having realistic expectations. A mentor is not automatically able to wave a magic wand for you to get that promotion, or be able to better manage your boss or subordinates or solve all your problems. It is important to see your mentor as one of a number of resources at your disposal to assist you develop your career.
Some hints to ensure the relationship will work include:
  • Regard it as a professional relationship- not a lifelong friendship
  • Establish clear goals for yourself and check with your mentor that these are feasible within the timeframe
  • Constantly review your goals and monitor progress
  • Prepare for meetings & schedule them well in advance
  • Remember that you are the driver of the relationship, not your mentor
  • Don't share personal history & problems unless they are impacting on your career choices
  • You are the one who needs to do the work, don't expect your mentor to do it for you!
  • Confidentiality is an important component of the mentoring relationship, so don't reveal any information about your mentor to others without their consent

What To Talk About In A Mentoring Conversation

Although it is important to establish some goals for yourself, it is often more difficult than it sounds.
At the first meeting with your mentor it is important to get to know each other's background, so prepare for this meeting by summarising your career history, what have been the most important roles you've had, what were some of the turning points, and where your career is at right now. You could also focus on what you enjoy about your current role, what are some of your key challenges, and where you would like to be in the future.
You could also also ask your mentor for a short summary of their career history, and what they believe are some of the strengths, knowledge & skills that they bring to the mentoring relationship.
Some topics which you could discuss with your mentor could include:
  • How to enhance your work/life balance
  • Greater understanding of the University's structure and decision making processes
  • How to advance your career- brainstorm options
  • Increase self- awareness, getting feedback from colleagues and subordinates
  • How to seek & gain promotion
  • How to increase your networks
  • Strategies for building self-confidence
  • How to gain more recognition
  • Finding work that is meaningful and matches your values
  • Gaining leadership skills
  • How to build your credibility