Characteristics of a Good Mentee

Here's are 10 signs that indicate a great mentee.

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

December 30, 2018

Updated on 

Time to Read

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There are some key qualities of a good mentee that will contribute to the success of the mentoring relationship. However, it’s not always easy to know what’s expected of you as a mentee, especially if you’re new to the organization.

Characteristics of a good mentee

There can be a lot that rides on the shoulders of a mentee when it comes to making a workplace mentoring program successful. There are some important characteristics that a good mentee will have. A mentee who isn’t willing to do the work or commit to the mentoring schedule won’t be able to reap the benefits. To help you determine whether a mentorship will be a good investment of your time and energy, we’ve compiled a list of characteristics that indicate what makes a good mentee. There are several qualities an individual should have if they want to make the most of a mentorship opportunity. Here are some of the basic qualities of a good mentee:

Drive to succeed

A good mentee should have the drive to succeed. A mentorship program is often started as a grassroots effort, putting the responsibility on the mentee to drive the relationship. A mentee that demonstrates the drive or ambition to succeed will likely also have clear ideas of what they want in a mentorship.

Hard working

Mentees need to be hard workers. A mentoring relationship will require extra time and energy, outside of the employee’s daily tasks at the organization. An individual who has demonstrated a willingness to work hard will be a good fit for a workplace mentoring program.

Time management

Good time management skills are essential to the mentorship relationship. A mentee will need to be able to manage their time effectively. It’s also important that the potential mentee assess whether they have the time to commit to a mentorship program.

A positive attitude

A mentee with a positive attitude will go a long way in making the program a success. A positive outlook often helps things run smoothly and a results in a more enjoyable experience. Not to mention, someone with a more optimistic outlook usually performs better than an individual with a negative outlook.

Respect for authority

Respect for authority is a vital quality that mentees should have. A mentorship program has traditionally been set up as an older or more experienced employee guiding a younger and less experienced one. Therefore, respect needs to be central to the connection. A mentee who is unable or unwilling to respect the experience, wisdom, and authority of the mentor will not be successful.

Open to learning

For a mentorship program to thrive, mentees need to be willing and open to learning. They also need to be prepared to try new things or adjust their current way of doing things. The mentor is expected to offer their expertise or advice, but if the mentee isn’t willing to learn, the opportunity is wasted.

Clear communication

Mentees should be capable of clear communication, including listening. A mentee should be able to listen attentively and communicate to their mentor if they need clarification. Essentially, a mentorship program has a relationship at the center. To create positive relations, the mentee should be able to effectively express themselves.


Initiative takers make great mentees. Employees who don’t wait around for someone else to fix a problem or take action demonstrate an important attribute for mentees. Often, mentees who demonstrate a willingness to take initiative for positive change will also be those who take responsibility for their career success. Rather than waiting on someone else to recognize their abilities and strengths, mentees who feel in control of their career will be most successful in a mentoring situation.

Leadership capability

Good mentees also have a demonstrated capability to be good leaders. While they may not have all the skills required to take on a leadership role, mentees that are hoping to do so one day will be able to earn valuable experience and knowledge through a workplace mentorship program.

Mentee goals

A large part of the success of a workplace mentoring program revolves around whether the mentee can achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. Therefore, one of the first and most important elements of a mentorship is setting goals and developing a plan to achieve them. Mentees should have a good grasp of goal setting and the path to achievement. Although this is something that can be done together, the majority of the work will fall to the mentee. They need to know specifically what they want to get out of the program, but also how to get to the end goal.

If you’re new to a mentoring program, think about what it is that you’d like to learn from your mentor. Are there specific skills that you’d like to develop? Do you want to understand more about the company? Ultimately, you need to ask why you picked the mentor that you did. What knowledge do they have that you would like to gain?

In addition to effective goal setting, a mentee needs to also be flexible. Being willing to make changes or re-assess goals is crucial to a successful workplace mentorship program. When it comes to setting goals and achieving them, flexibility is important. Things don’t always work out as we hope, and a good mentee should to be willing to change things if they aren’t working.

How to be a successful mentee

Cultivating a successful mentor-mentee relationship takes time, but there are a couple of things that mentees can do to enhance the overall experience.

First of all, respect your mentor and demonstrate your willingness to listen and follow their guidance. Don’t forget that they are volunteers who have committed their free time to the mentoring program. Therefore, you should also be mindful of the time you demand of them. That doesn’t mean you cut your meetings short or change your goals, but it does mean coming to meetings prepared and not wasting time.

Set goals, expectations and boundaries for the relationship. Having a clearly expressed plan for the future and growth of the mentorship will be helpful in getting the most out of the experience. A mentor and mentee can define these together as they work to build trust. Setting boundaries and having clear communication will also help create a successful mentorship.

Workplace mentoring programs can support career development, cultivate a more positive work environment, and help employees form connections ensuring a workplace mentoring program’s success requires that all parties involved are actively contributing.

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