Good mentoring requires a lot of self-discipline. It doesn’t matter if you’re in academia or marketing; the same principles and mentoring guidelines apply. The most successful mentorships play out like a parent-grown child relationship rather than the stiff employer-employee connection. It is mentee-centred and is based on mutual trust, respect, shared value, and effective communication.
Despite its importance, there are limited resources on how to be a good mentor. Mentoring requires a team effort, which is why this article will include guidelines for mentors, besides checklists for maximizing every session.
You can also check out our mentoring program ideas, which include over 20 activities and pairing formats.
What is a mentoring checklist?
A mentoring checklist is a list of actions mentors should take before, during, and after each meeting or mentoring session.
It is important that you and your mentee make your expectations and goals clear from the onset of the mentoring program. A mentoring checklist will help you stay on track and measure progress as you move along in the relationship. You can collaborate with your mentee to form a plan that works for both parties. Develop attainable goals and determine the type of guidance and resources your mentee needs using a checklist.
We will discuss why you need a checklist as a mentor, and what to do before, during, and after every meeting in the following sections. You will also get actionable tips on becoming a great mentor and how to start a formal mentoring program in your company if you haven’t already.
Together’s mentoring platform has meeting agenda templates that provide mentors and mentees with guides for their sessions. The guides cover everything from goal setting to job shadowing and dealing with stress. Starting a mentorship program at work shouldn’t be a burden, it is easy when you get started for free with Together.
Why do mentors need a checklist?
A mentoring checklist helps mentors to stay on track and ensure they’re doing everything they can to help their mentees get the most out of their time together. A checklist helps mentors not miss anything.
It also gives them ideas for what to talk about. It is a guide for mentors and mentees on activities to do once they have reached a mutual agreement on their mentoring relationship.
What mentors should do before every meeting?
Below is a detailed list of tasks mentors should accomplish before every meeting:
Clarify mentee goals and expectations
While trying to define what you both want from the mentor-mentee relationship, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you as a mentor hope to achieve?
- What are the goals of your mentee?
- What are the requirements of the mentoring program?
- How can you help your mentee achieve their goals?
Good documentation ensures you can access these important points later, especially when you veer off the track. Goals help the mentee look beyond the daily demands of his job and focus on making the most of the mentoring program. With a goal in mind for each session, both parties can focus on achieving the objectives and using their time effectively.
Decide on a topic of discussion with your mentee
By deciding on a topic beforehand, both parties know what to expect and how best to prepare for the upcoming meeting. The mentor will especially have time to gather resources that will help the mentee maximize the time frame.
Any extra ideas you'd like to discuss
If you have any ideas to share regarding your next meeting, you can chip them in before the meeting. It could be slight changes to the topic or asking if the mentee is comfortable discussing it. It shows the mentee that, although you are busy, you have them in mind and take your mentoring responsibility seriously.
What mentors should do during each mentoring session
Planning for you mentoring session is key. Here are the tasks you should check off during every call.
Ask the mentee how their week has been.
A bit of informality can create a comfortable atmosphere. This helps to build the human connection and sets the tone for a productive mentoring session.
Ask the mentee what their initial thoughts are on the topic for the session.
This is a way of making the meeting interactive and showing the mentee he is free to air his views on the topic. Mentoring is not the typical teacher-student relationship. It is an open and proactive partnership that benefits both parties.
Address the mentees' thoughts, concerns, challenges, goals, or experiences with the topic.
Based on the topic, the pair can address whatever needs the mentee has at that moment. The focus should be on learning and not exposing weakness or failure. This is an opportunity for the mentor to share any similar experience and provide relevant resources to tackle the need.
Discuss any articles or videos that were sent ahead of time.
The mentor can send articles and videos related to the topic ahead of the meeting. That way, they can move straight to discussing them rather than having to consume the content during the meeting. This will save time, put less pressure on the mentee, and make sure he has time to digest the content of the materials.
Ask the mentee how they feel about the discussion as the session concludes.
Towards the end of the session, it is important to take some minutes to reflect on the discussion. The mentor can ask for feedback on the discussion to better prepare for future meetings.
Agree on a topic for the next session.
Before rounding off the session, it is important to conclude on the topic for the next session. It has to align with the mentees’ goals. This makes both parties accountable and mentally prepared for the next session.
Not all mentoring relationships are the same. Each has unique needs to fill or goals to accomplish. Therefore, as a mentor, it’s important that you work with your mentee with certain mentoring guidelines in place.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines mentoring guidelines as "the etiquette of mentoring." Upon reflection, this is true as successful mentoring depends on the quality of the mentor-mentee relationship. According to the body:
"Little guidance is offered to mentors or mentees about the dos and don'ts of establishing a healthy mentoring relationship. For example, mentors may enter a mentoring relationship to pass on wisdom received from their mentors. Mentees, on the other hand, may solicit a mentor for counsel on career development. In other instances, some mentors may conceptualize the relationship as a business arrangement in which both parties benefit, and some mentees may feel entitled to the attention of the mentor. Therefore, mentoring guidelines are important for establishing appropriate boundaries to avoid unpleasant mentoring outcomes from both parties. This will not only help to create a memorable mentoring experience but also lay the groundwork for a lifelong professional relationship."
With this in mind, let's explore mentoring guidelines.
What is a mentoring guideline?
Mentoring guidelines are a set of protocols or ground rules that a mentor and mentee agree to adhere to at the start of their relationship. They define expectations.
A mentoring guideline also helps them avoid problems that might hinder their career growth.
Mentees can establish independence and avoid micromanagement or overly depending on their mentor when there are rules. Likewise, participants in a cross-gender mentoring relationship can maintain a professional relationship with a guideline on conduct. Guidelines minimize problems with mentoring when both parties have clear expectations.
Formal mentoring programs often have training programs for mentors and mentees to ensure a productive mentoring outcome. They could also have workplace objectives and goals for successful mentoring relationships.
11 Mentoring guidelines to keep in mind
No two mentor-mentee relationships are the same. The following guidelines are suggestions we think would make mentorship easier and more valuable. They will also help you keep the purpose of mentoring top of mind. However, run these guidelines by your mentee to see if you agree.
- Take the lead by inviting your mentee for a meeting and suggest discussion topics
- Be respectful of your mentee’s time as much as you’re conscious of yours
- You’re not required to check your mentee’s performance, only suggest ways to improve
- Always ask before making a suggestion or offer
- Make clear to your mentee that your role is to provide advice. It’s up to them to make decisions
- Keep your comments about your mentee to others positive or neutral
- Assure your mentee that all discussion will be treated with the strictest confidence
- Review your relationship regularly to be sure you’re both keeping to the terms
- Don’t hesitate to end the mentorship if you both can’t honour your commitments
- If you decide to go your separate ways, end the relationship on a good note
- Leave the door open for future connections even after your relationship ends
Quick tips on how to be a great mentor
What is a mentoring checklist without some tips to help you along the journey? Here are some quick tips on how to be a great mentor:
- Cultivate active listening skills and communication strategies
- Share stories from your personal experience
- Set realistic goals and expectations for your mentee
- Give constructive criticism and provide workable solutions
- Encourage reflection and highlight your mentee’s growth
- Hold your mentee accountable for their growth
- Leverage your network to help them grow faster
- Be flexible and respect diverse perspectives on a topic or issue
- Celebrate their wins like you mean it and be yourself at all times
- Ask for feedback to improve your mentoring skills
Overall, make sure you take your mentoring responsibilities seriously and help your mentee with as many resources as possible. Keep it real and share your struggles to encourage them. Check out this article where we share more tips on building a successful mentoring relationship.
Starting a formal mentoring program at your company?
Are you looking to help your employees achieve career development? A mentorship program is just the right solution. You can host your workplace mentorship program on Together.
Together has a mentoring software ideal for HR managers looking to start a mentoring program in their company. If you already have a mentorship program in place, we also have resources to help mentors and mentees make the most of their relationships. We can lead you by the hand through your mentorship journey with our mentoring skills checklist, tools and templates, guides and articles, all on making mentorship a work in the park.
You can launch a mentoring program on Together by registering employees, matching them, and monitoring their sessions. Simple right?