As a Mentor, it is your primary role to support and guide your mentee based on their unique developmental needs. Throughout the mentoring relationship, you will find yourself wearing different hats, and taking on various roles to help your mentee achieve their developmental goals.
Coach/ Advisor: Provide guidance, feedback, and advise; sharing your own experiences and insights within the organisation. You will also provide input into the mentoring action plan. However, be aware of the “Advice Monster” and hold back providing the answers too quickly and instead take an approach of probing with questions to help the mentee get there themselves. This way, the mentee can fully digest the logic and reasoning behind the advice.
Devil’s Advocate: Deliver feedback that will challenge and help the mentee think through important decisions and strategies. It may not be the feedback that the mentee wants to hear, but it will push them to take risks when appropriate and consider potential consequences of decisions and actions.
Resource Person: Identify resources that will help the mentee with their personal and professional development. This can be in the form of recommending books, workshops, or other learning tools. You will also play a role in expanding the mentee’s network of contacts, by either introducing them to new contacts, or encouraging them to attend networking events (or both).
Support System/ Cheerleader: Encourage and support your mentee to try new things and move out of their comfort zone. You will act as their cheerleader and celebrate their wins - no matter how big or small. You will also be their support system when they face setbacks and motivate them with encouraging words.
What is expected from the Mentor?
As a mentor, there are some key responsibilities that you are expected to fulfil in your mentoring relationship:
Be available: Whilst it is not expected of you to be available 24/7, it is important that you are accessible to your mentee – especially at crucial times. For instance, if your mentee has an important event coming up, they would appreciate the additional support from you.
Withhold judgement: Whilst providing constructive feedback is an important role of a Mentor, it is not helpful to preach or lecture your mentee. You want to build trust with them, so they can share their thoughts and dilemmas with you. Remember, everyone has different goals and values. As a mentor, you are expected to meet them and not impose your own too heavily.
Trustworthy: Ensure that you stick to your promises and hold accountability. At the end of the day you are their mentor and need to uphold the utmost professionalism. Similarly, what the mentee shares with you should be kept confidential.
The Mentee’s role
As a mentee it is your job to absorb as much information from your mentor as possible. Whilst the role of a mentee is less varied, there are certain roles that you will adopt that are an integral part of the mentoring relationship, such as:
Planner: Take initiative to schedule meetings and create action plans. It is your role to be proactive about identifying and setting goals and time frames.
Investigator: Probe and ask open-ended questions to get the most out of your conversations. Keep the flow of the conversations, by following up frequently and continually providing updates.
Student: As a continuous learner, it is your role to absorb and soak in knowledge provided by your mentor. You will also take initiative to continue your learning, even outside of the mentoring relationship.
What is expected of the Mentee? For mentees, the roles and expectations tend to overlap. As well as demonstrating the above roles, to build a strong mentor-mentee relationship, you are expected to:
Follow through on agreements: When action points have been identified during meetings, it is important that you follow through. It is your job to be accountable and proactive on set agreements.
Feedback: Provide feedback and be open to receiving feedback. As a mentee, it is expected of you to provide feedback on the mentoring relationship, in addition to giving feedback on the results of the tips and advice obtained from the mentor. Receiving feedback is vital for learning growth and development. Therefore, it is important that you welcome constructive feedback, and use it as an opportunity for improvement.