How to start and develop a mentoring relationship

Once a mentor and mentee have been matched, the mentor will contact the mentee to initiate the first meeting.

Just as first impressions are important, the first mentoring meeting is critical for building rapport and is considered the start to developing a successful mentoring relationship.

 

How to Start a Mentoring Relationship:

 

Prepare

You want to show your mentee or mentor that you are invested in them and the mentoring relationship.

Therefore, it is highly important that both parties prepare for the first meeting discussions.

Below are some points that will help both parties prepare for the first session: 

  • Consider your own expectations and goals and what you want out of the relationship.
  • What does the other party need to know about me and what do I need to know about them?
  • Consider how much time you can commit to mentoring? – think of day and hours per week/month 

For the mentee, further research on the reasoning for mentoring and goals you have should be prepared to share in the first session. Consider the following: 

  • Job descriptions for future roles 
  • Examples of projects of interest 
  • Details of current barriers and issues that are facing in current circumstances


Establish Rapport

A successful mentoring relationship is built on trust, and people tend to trust those that they like.

So, the first meeting should be dedicated to building rapport, learning about each other, discussing personal and professional history, and looking for common ground.

Topics and questions, you can focus on to get to know each other can be: 

  • Current role 
  • Background of current workload 
  • Likes and dislikes about the job 
  • Professional background 
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Specifics areas of interest for mentoring sessions? i.e. particular projects

 

 Set Expectations

A big part of establishing rapport, is setting expectations.

Here you could discuss any preconceived ideas you may have about the role of a mentor or mentee, and your expectations of the relationship.

The following questions can provide a basis for discussion on setting expectations: 

  • What do you expect from a Mentee or Mentor?
  • What are the key objectives you wish to achieve? 
  • When and how will establish interaction? (We strongly recommend maintaining contact at least two times per month – even if it is a brief message/email) 
  • Who will initiate these interactions? 
  • What tips could you give to be most successful in working with you? 
  • How do you handle conflict? 
  • How do you handle feedback? 
  • At what point should we terminate the mentoring relationship?



Review The Mentoring Agreement

 

Setting expectations will clarify the terms to the ‘mentoring agreement’ which will underpin your mentoring relationship. 

The mentoring agreement is a term of reference that sets out the expectations and boundaries for both parties, so that there is a shared purpose and responsibility.

This should be reviewed regularly (e.g. every 6 months)

With a structured approach to preparation, building rapport, setting expectations, and establishing a mentoring agreement, you are setting stone for a strong mentoring relationship.