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Getting the Most Out of a Mentoring Relationship

It may not always be clear what is required from each individual, but there are some basic guidelines that can help move the mentoring relationship forward.


November 16, 2018

Businesses that opt to establish a mentoring program for employees are doing so to see a change in the workplace. This change could be a more positive and engaged workforce, or simply some extra guidance to help new hires learn the ropes. The good news is that companies who have made the effort to pull together a mentorship program do have some control over the success of the mentor-mentee relationship. How the program has been designed, how it’s managed, and the guidance given to employees who participate are all factors to consider in ensuring that everyone gets the most out of the mentoring relationship.

Mentor-Mentee Relationship Guidelines

One of the first steps for mentors and mentees is to establish clear guidelines about how the relationship will work. It may not always be clear what is required from each individual, but there are some basic guidelines that can help move the mentoring relationship forward. It’s acceptable for the mentor to share information about him or herself, including their background, skills, and expertise. This gives the mentor a starting point to consider how they can enhance the mentee’s experience in the workplace.

In addition, a mentor should actively engage the mentee by listening and goal-setting. The mentor shouldn’t shy away from giving advice. Providing constructive feedback for the mentee can have a positive impact and help bring the mentee closer to their goals. The mentor should offer advice on how a mentee can make the most out of their time with the company, which can have a positive and productive impact in the workplace.

While a mentor can help guide the goal development process, it’s up to the mentee to define what they want to get out of the relationship. Mentees should also be prepared to take advantage of any advice or opportunities that the mentor provides. This could be opportunities such as helpful workplace programs to advance skills or external opportunities for training. In the case that a mentee undergoes skill training externally, as advised by a mentor, they should be encouraged to bring their new aptitude back to the workplace and teach others.

Another important element to the mentor-mentee relationship is establishing a connection with one another. A mentor can and should celebrate with the mentee when a goal or accomplishment has been achieved. They should also mark important milestones with the mentee, whether it’s a work-related event or a personal one, such as a birthday or anniversary. However, a mentee also needs to have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Mentees need to demonstrate an active interest if they’re going to be part of the program. They should keep in regular contact with their mentor and always be on time for any meetings that have been set.

From a business perspective, one of the most valuable factors of the mentor-mentee relationship is the opportunity to shape a young employee and encourage them to develop productive habits. By educating the mentee on workplace expectations, the mentor has the chance to positively impact not just the relationship, but also the organization long-term. Mentees who develop a good work ethic are often a source of positive influence on their co-workers.

Mentor Relationship at Work

Essentially, the mentor’s role is both a teacher and a guide. They are responsible for shaping the mentee’s professional development. It’s important that they acknowledge the expectation to be a positive role model. By demonstrating to the mentee how to adhere to the corporate policies and requirements, they will help enhance the mentoring relationship. From a management perspective, a mentee who has been well-trained in the requirements and expectations of the workplace is less likely to cost the company down the road. Employees who are aware of company policies and have a history of following them are far more valuable than those who lack this knowledge.

A mentee can find that their professional connections and networking opportunities are enhanced through a mentoring connection. This can, in turn, be beneficial to the employer as the mentee may be able to attract new talent to the company. In the same way, a mentor may also be in a better position to access the mentee’s talents and skills that aren’t directly related to their current position with the company. Through this process, a mentor will be able to see how these capacities could be useful to the company in the future.

Goals for Mentoring Relationship

While the primary goals for the mentorship program will be to help the mentee develop professionally, a secondary goal should be to have a positive impact on the organization. Training a mentee in workplace procedures, policies and expectations allows a mentor to help build a more productive organization. Therefore, new hires should always be encouraged to take advantage of any workplace mentoring program.

In addition, for the mentor, the opportunity can help develop leadership skills, enhance coaching, counselling and listening capabilities. In some cases, mentors can also find a mentoring situation to be a learning opportunity. Younger workers may have differing experience or innovative ideas that could benefit the workplace, particularly when it comes to incorporating technology, resulting in a more efficient workplace.

Successful Mentoring Relationship

Communication is the key to a healthy mentoring relationship. This means the mentee should express what they hope to gain from the connection and why they would like this individual to be the mentor. What is it they admire about this person?

In turn, a mentor should be a source of positive influence and guidance. A good mentor-mentee relationship will often result in both individuals gaining some extra confidence, which can contribute to a positive atmosphere in the workplace.

For the mentee, meeting their goals, developing company knowledge and expanding their own talents will help them be more self-assured of their contributions to the company. As well, a mentor can offer valuable leadership skills and experience, which will assist mentees in their future endeavours.

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a successful mentoring relationship has been defined as one in where there is engagement, flexibility, authenticity, and reciprocity.

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We draw from the first-hand experience of managers at various companies leading mentoring programs and our own expertise to outline the best practices for running a mentorship program. This white paper is a comprehensive guide to help you build a world-class mentoring program.