Dive deeper into the meaning of mentoring relationship, the rules of the „game”, its stages and elements.
A mentoring relationship is the establishment of a genuine interaction between a knowledgeable person with rich and diverse experience and a less experienced person, which is based on the knowledge exchange in a clearly defined time frame.
The success of the entire mentoring process greatly depends on a clear understanding of the role of a mentor and a role of a mentee. It is very important to precisely define the expectations that both sides have from the mentoring relationship in order to avoid disappointments.
Both the mentor and the mentee need to be committed and active in developing and maintaining their relationship. They should create a close rapport that makes them feel comfortable and satisfied. Finally, being constantly aware of the bigger picture is crucial, because changes we make in one sphere of our lives inevitably affect other spheres as well.
What makes this relationship unique in comparison with many other interpersonal relationships, is the asymmetrical relation between a mentor and a mentee – the whole process is always guided by mentee’s needs, expectations and goals.
The role of a mentor is to listen and guide a mentee through his/her personal and professional development and to support him/her when facing difficult challenges, without asking for anything in return. The mentor is driven by desire to share knowledge, rather than by desire for self-promotion. His/her motivation should derive from the satisfaction of observing other people’s professional and personal development.
You can find the mentor all by yourself or through a mentorship programme.
Before you start searching for a mentor, you should carefully reflect and think about the reasons why you need a mentoring relationship, and what kind of mentor you need. After defining your long-term and short-term goals, you should target individuals/organizations/institutions/companies that match the profile of your ideal mentor. In addition, you can participate in workshops, lectures and events where you could have a chance to approach directly a potential mentor. If you have any doubts or further questions, please contact the Creative Mentorship team.
In order to establish a successful mentoring relationship, it is necessary to carefully set the goals you want to achieve during this process. Your main goal should be specific, measurable, meaningful, achievable, realistic, time-bound, exciting and to contribute to the wider picture of your life/organisation/project. Working towards it should give you pleasure. The specific goal makes sense only when its completion gives you something more: if through achieving your goal you approach your vision, as well.
Your goals will change and evolve through the work with your mentor, but it is of the utmost importance to start the mentoring process with a very clear picture of what you want to achieve.
The first mentor and mentee session is of essential importance. In addition to introducing two strangers to each other, who should build mutual trust, it represents a starting point for the development of the whole mentoring process. Before their first mentoring session, both the mentor and the mentee should devote some time to think about their expectations from the mentoring process, their individual contributions to it, and to define their exact needs and goals.
Another crucial topic for the first mentoring session is to set the “rules of the game”: what is and what is not allowed in your mentoring process. Remember that all mentoring relationships are unique and that both sides need to agree and equally participate in shaping their communication pattern. You need to openly discuss your mutual trust, discretion, undesirable topics and the ways of communicating between mentoring sessions. Read more about this topic in Mentoring tools – “The Rules of the Game” could serve as a reminder during your mentoring session.
Finally, do not forget to arrange the structure and frequency of your sessions. You can read more about this on the Mentoring sessions page.
After the introduction, in the second mentoring session, the mentee’s current position in terms of his/her personal and professional development, knowledge, skills, resources and network of contacts should be mapped. At this stage, it is important to precisely define and objectively evaluate the current mentee situation, as a starting point for the mentoring process. During the mapping exercise, mentor’s support is of the utmost importance – his/her questions and ability to grasp and discover the bigger picture is fundamental.
Both sides need to openly discuss and agree on what they want to achieve. Desired outcomes need to be defined in relation to specific time frames. A mentee should openly express his/her goals and vision, so that a mentor could help him/her to focus and choose the best options.
A mentee should analyse the gap between the current and the desired situation, and decide on the possible steps he/she could undertake towards achieving his/her goals. The most feasible options should be investigated further and incorporated into the action plan. The action plan could include a list of the key development areas, topics for mentoring sessions and – if relevant – mentee’s plan of activities for reaching desirable results.
his is the longest-lasting phase. A mentee implements the agreed action plan in accordance to which the mentee should initiate topics for the mentoring sessions that should help him/her in the implementation process.
Mentor’s contribution in this phase is to support the mentee, share knowledge, experience and perspectives, and provide constructive feedback. During this phase, it is crucial that mentor:
a) helps the mentee in facing and overcoming the obstacles,
b) helps the mentee to decide if the goals or the method for achieving them should change or improve,
c) assists in empowering the mentee’s sense of ownership towards his/her goals,
d) encourages perseverance and strengthens mentee’s ability to respond to challenges.
Efficient mentor’s support is not consisting only of sharing his/her knowledge, but also of asking questions that incite to comprehensive analysis of relevant factors for mentee’s development, while keeping the mentee’s focus on the desired course.
The philosophy that Creative Mentorship advocates is that neither life nor mentoring are processes of success, but learning processes. If you understand the mentoring process this way, you will be less stressed about issues such as:
Will I be able to adequately support my mentee?
Will I be interesting enough to my mentor?
What if our relationship is disappointing?
Therefore, you will develop an honest, open and courageous interaction with, until now, an unknown person. We can learn something from everyone, even if we did not get the mentor or mentee we imagined to. Everyone can help us to get a different perspective in relation to our current position and to discover a different way of thinking about our challenges. It is important that mentoring couple fosters mutual respect and believe in the mentoring process.
Even though we will consider many people as our lifelong mentors, the formal mentoring relationship happens in a determined time frame, previously established between a mentor and a mentee. The last mentoring session should be used to look back and reflect on the mentoring process, give final suggestions and comments. This phase is extremely important as a turning point and the possibility for further learning, which is why both mentor and mentee need to dedicate additional attention to it. Before the final session, have a look at the Planning the Final Session tool in Mentoring tools
Download the latest edition of the MENTORING GUIDE, published by “Creative Mentorship”, which includes a series of short texts and practical advice on the role of mentors and mentees, building a successful mentoring relationship, designing meetings and avoiding potential problems. It is intended not only for program participants, but for everyone who wants to enter the mentoring adventure!
The manual is free to download and use, but whenever you publicly publish a part of the content, it is necessary to indicate where the content is downloaded.