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How to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship

June 8, 2020

Workplace mentoring programs are dependant upon successful mentor relationships. The stronger the connection between the mentor and mentee, the more each will get from the experience. 

There are a number of ways to help build a successful mentor relationship including setting SMART goals, sticking to an agenda, having constant communication and defining mutual benefits. 

The Importance of Mentoring Relationships 

Mentorships are unique relationships that are most often developed in a professional atmosphere. They are designed to help the mentee learn new skills, network and become more successful in their careers. They also provide the mentee with an opportunity to gain knowledge from a more experienced co-worker. 

However, there are also many other benefits of mentoring. Mentoring programs can also:

  • Overcome diversity issues in the workplace
  • Be part of succession planning for an organization
  • Improve employee engagement and loyalty
  • Reduce high turnover rates for companies
  • Onboard new employees

Yet, for an organization to get all these benefits, the mentorship needs to be based on a strong connection or relationship. A mentoring relationship takes time to develop but can be one of the most important connections anyone can experience in their career. 

How to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship

Successful workplace mentoring programs are built on the backs of successful mentoring relationships. More importantly, participants and the organization will get the most benefits from a mentorship that has a strong relationship at its core. Here are some ways that you can build that successful mentor relationship. 

Set SMART Goals

Be respectful of your mentor’s time and make the most of it. Mentees should have a clearly defined plan for what they would like to gain from the mentorship. By setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive you are most likely to be successful both in your career and in your mentorship. It also demonstrates your commitment. 

Demonstrate Your Interest

Your mentor is investing time into you and your career. You can show your appreciation by listening to their advice and asking questions. Be an active participant in the mentoring relationship, not a passive partner. 

Connect Often

Constant communication is key to cultivating a strong mentor connection. Keep in touch with each other and check in regularly. This can be done via emails, apps, messages or phone. Keep in mind that most mentorships work best if there is a consistent schedule. Set a regular time to meet, which helps both of you work the meeting to your busy routines.

Be Appreciative

Mentorships don’t last forever. Remember to say thank you when it is time for your mentoring relationship to end. You can do this by sending a thank you card or an email with a heartfelt message. Whatever way you show your thanks, letting your mentor know how much you value them will leave a lasting impression. 

Give Back

Even if you don’t have the experience and extensive skill set that your mentor has, there are still things you may be able to teach them. Find out what you can offer and give back to your mentor by helping them learn something new through the mentoring experience. Doing this demonstrates that you care about them and lays the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship. 

3 Tips for Building a Strong Mentorship 

Creating a successful mentor relationship takes time and commitment from the participants. While there are some ways that an organization can assist in cultivating a strong connection, such as making the right mentor-mentee match, it is up to the participants to develop a good rapport. 

Here are some tips that will help you build a strong mentoring relationship. 

  1. Be committed - One of the most important elements for a successful mentorship is a commitment on part of both the mentor and mentee.  Mentoring takes time and energy from both participants. Each should be dedicated to playing their part and helping to build a strong relationship. 
  1. Have an agenda - You and your mentor should agree on an agenda before your meeting. This will help you get your questions answered and keep you both focused. It also prevents either of you from feeling like you’ve wasted your meeting time. 
  1. Set boundaries - To help create a positive connection, mentors and mentees should set boundaries. This can include when and how often to meet, the best ways to contact each other and what each of you expects from the mentorship. Developing and sticking to these boundaries creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, which is an essential ingredient in good relationships. 

Cultivating Mentorships

The mentor relationship is the key ingredient in any successful workplace mentoring program. If a mentor and mentee are able to develop a strong connection they will both benefit from the experience. 

Setting SMART goals, creating an agenda, staying in touch, and showing appreciation are some of the best ways to build successful mentor relationships. 

Finding the right pairing, scheduling meetings and monitoring mentorships are important ways to help participants build a strong and successful mentor relationship. Mentoring software, such as Together, can help. Find out more with a free product demonstration

Download our Full Report on Mentoring

We interviewed and surveyed employees from 50+ leading North American Companies including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Capital One, Norton Rose Fulbright, Mackenzie Investments. Get the results below.

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