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Building Successful Mentoring Relationships

Your First Mentoring Meeting
First 30 Days
90 Day Check Up
Renewing Commitment
Celebrate Success!

Your First Mentoring Meeting - Establishing a Partnership

The first mentoring meeting is critical. It is important at the very beginning of the mentoring process to get to know each other and clarify your overall mentoring goals. The end result of this conversation will be a mentoring agreement.

Step 1 - Get Acquainted
  • Find the commonalities. Number of years in the industry, have you both worked for the same organization, similar career paths, common skills, etc.
  • Look for uniqueness. Share what specialized knowledge you bring to the partnership, do you speak a foreign language, bring past military experience, etc.
  • Explore hobbies. Do you have a hobby? What do you do when you are not working?
  • How similar/different are your behavioral styles? What are the benefits of being matched with someone who is a different behavioral style? A similar style?

Step 2 - Discuss Your Overall Mentoring Goals
  • Where are you going?
  • What are your visions and aspirations?
  • Where are you now?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses and behavioral style?
  • How can your mentor help you to?
    • Build Technical Skills
    • Multitask
    • Navigate the Organization
    • Explore New Ideas
    • Forge a New Career Path
    • Expand Network
    • Build Confidence
  • Choose your top 3 mentoring goals.
Step 3 - Create a Mentoring Agreement
  • Clarify mentoring goals, roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish a meeting schedule.
    • Where?
    • When?
    • How long?
    • Frequency?
  • Determine who will initiate meetings.
  • Consider geographical differences and make accommodations.
Step 4 - Solicit Supervisory Support
  • Make plans to brief the supervisor on your plans to participate in the program.
  • Provide the supervisor with a Mentoring Program events calendar for the coming months.
Step 5 - Create a Confidentiality Agreement and No-Fault Termination Clause
  • Outline the parameters for information sharing.
    • For example, "What we discuss stays between the two of us." Or "What we discuss stays between the two of us unless you give me permission to share it with others."
  • Be sure to include the No-Fault Termination Clause.

First 30 Days - Creating a Mentoring Action Plan (MAP) Back to Top

This stage of the relationship is a collaborative effort. Mentors create a safe environment for the Mentee to examine behaviors or areas that they want to change. A key outcome of this conversation is a plan of action (or Mentoring Action Plan). A Mentor can be a wealth of knowledge during this stage by sharing resources, developmental ideas and opportunities.

Step 1 - Review Your Top 3 Mentoring Goals
  • List your mentoring goals in order of priority.

Step 2 - Create a List of Learning Activities
The most successful plans are those that have a range of learning activities that encourage:
  • Learning by doing (ex., special project, writing a memo, etc.)
  • Learning from others (ex., shadowing, situational mentoring, etc.)
  • Learning from challenging experiences or "stretch assignments" (ex., project outside of department, leadership role, etc.)
Step 3 - Create a Timeline
  • Determine how many hours, days or weeks it will take to complete each activity.
Step 4 - Input your data into the Mentoring Connection Website.
  • Continue to update and fine tune your activities, timelines and schedules as needed.
Step 5 - Begin Your Mentoring Journey
  • Always keep in mind that the actual journey is an important part of the mentoring process and many times can be the most rewarding!

90 Day Check up: Suitability of the Mentoring Match Back to Top

Step 1 - Reflect on the suitability of the match

Within the first 90 days, the partnership should have a good sense of the suitability of the match:
  • Evaluate the suitability of your match (Good match, poor, etc.)
  • How often have you met?
  • Do you feel energized after meeting with your partner?
  • Are you satisfied with the amount of time you are investing?
  • Have you canceled more than three meetings in a row?
  If you responded unfavorably to more than two of the above questions, continue to Step 2.
  If not, congratulations! You are right on track.

Step 2 - Explore obstacles to a suitable mentoring match

Check any or all of the factors that are creating tension in the mentoring relationship:
  1. Lack of trust.
  2. Lack of respect for differences.
  3. Lack of a confidentiality agreement.
  4. Personal issues (family crisis, serious illness, etc.).
  5. Unable to make mentoring a priority.
  6. Unclear goals and objectives for the mentoring partnership.
  7. Unrealistic expectations.
  8. Lack of support from the supervisor.
  9. High workload.
  10. Geographical differences (Mentor or Mentee is located in a different state).
If you responded unfavorably to factors 1-5, you may want to contact the Program Coordinator for assistance in closing down your mentoring relationship. If you responded unfavorably to 6-10 continue to Step 3.

Step 3 - Design a plan to overcome the obstacles impacting your relationship
  • Arrange a meeting with your partner (face-to-face if possible) to discuss the obstacle that is impacting your relationship. Put an action plan together to overcome the obstacle and make mentoring a priority!

Renewing Commitment Back to Top

As important as the initial stages of defining and developing the mentoring partnership may be, it is critical to consistently monitor the quality of the mentoring interaction and to evaluate its progress. Arrange periodic check points with your partner (face to face if possible).

Discuss the following:

Step 1 - Reaffirm original goals and refocus energy

Within the first half of your partnership, you should feel a level of trust at this point in the program. Arrange a mid point evaluation meeting with your partner (face to face if possible).
Discuss the following:
  • What did we set out to accomplish together?
  • How do we feel we're doing?
  • Should we shift our goals at all?
  • How are we doing in honoring the agreements we made in our Mentoring Action Plan and Agreement?
  • What are we each doing "right" that has made this partnership work as well as it has?
  • What signals did we give that demonstrated we could trust each other?
Step 2 - Redefine goals and amend the Mentoring Action Plan

Print a hard copy of the Mentoring Action Plan (from TMC).
  • If new or different goals have emerged as a result of the discussion in step 1:
    • What goals would you like to head for from this point forward?
    • What learning activities would be realistic and have impact in the time we have left?
Step 3 - Identify and address problems or barriers
  • What, if anything, has been difficult or disappointing in working together?
  • What could we each do to improve this partnership?
  • Are there new agreements we'd like to put in place?
Step 4 - Input any changes to your Mentoring Action Plan and complete the Mid Point On-Line Evaluation via the Mentoring Connection Website.

Celebrate Success! Back to Top

How to close down a mentoring relationship

Set up a meeting to recognize how you and your mentoring partner have benefited from the mentoring relationship and program.

Step 1 - Take stock of how you have benefited from the mentoring relationship

The partners will want to close down the mentoring relationship with the same spirit and enthusiasm in which it began. Arrange a meeting with your partner (face-to-face if possible). Discuss the following:
  • Did we accomplish our mentoring goals?
  • What have we appreciated about each other?
  • How have we helped each other grow?
  • If this were the last time we were ever going to see each other, what would you want to be sure to express in the way of gratitude?
Step 2 - Explore the return on investment
  • In what specific ways have we observed the mentoring program improving the organization?
  • How can we apply (leverage) what we learned in the program to other aspects of our job/relationships?
Step 3 - A new beginning

Although this meeting signals the "closing down" of the formal mentoring relationship, explore the ways in which you will continue to stay in touch with each other and help to build mentoring as part of the organization's culture:
  • What are some ways we can plan to stay in contact?
  • In what ways can we help to continue to build mentoring as part of the organization's culture (For example, recommend the program to a friend or colleague, participate as Mentor or Mentee, advocate for the program to senior management)?
Step 4 - Complete the End of Program On-line Evaluation via the Mentoring Connection Website.

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