Mentorship tips

Mentoring topics: Agendas that encourage meaningful discussion

We've compiled a list of several discussion topics for mentors and mentees. No matter what kind of mentoring relationship you have these discussion topics will open up learning opportunities and meaningful connections.

Kinjal Dagli

Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Together

Published on 

March 16, 2022

Updated on 

September 28, 2023

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If you struggle with communication in the workplace, you’re not alone.

Research from Forbes found that 89% of remote and in-person US-based workers need more effective communication. Even more, those same workers cite that poor communication impacts their trust in leadership and reduces their job satisfaction. 

Building rapport among colleagues is tricky, especially within a mentorship context. That’s where mentoring topics come in. Mentoring discussion topics provide a framework for both the mentor and mentee to start a conversation to facilitate a positive experience. 

Let's explore the importance of mentoring session topics, along with how to apply these topics in some common mentorship scenarios. 

What are mentoring topics? 

Mentoring topics are relatively straightforward: They are specific areas of discussion for mentors and mentees to dive into throughout their mentoring experience. 

These discussion topics can be about anything related to the mentorship relationship, including:

  • Personal and professional development
  • Networking or community-building opportunities
  • The goals or needs of both parties
  • The expertise of the mentor
  • Added context for the relationship

As a best practice, consider what you want to gain from the experience. Are there any burning questions you have for the person you’ll work with? These are strong leads to get you started.

Why do mentors and mentees need discussion agendas?

Starting a new workplace relationship can be tricky. It's tough to know where to begin to get to know someone or to truly understand why both parties want to participate in a mentorship experience in the first place. 

Here are a few specific reasons mentors and mentees should use discussion topics:

  • Discussion agendas add structure and organization so that mentors and mentees can make the most out of their limited time together. It also ensures essential topics are addressed. 
  • Discussion agendas help with goal alignment by outlining specific topics and objectives. 
  • Discussion agendas allow both parties to prepare for their conversations. Mentees can use them to gather their thoughts, reflect on progress, and identify areas where they require continued guidance or support. Conversely, mentors can prepare relevant advice, resources, and examples to share with their mentees.
  • Discussion agendas hold both parties accountable. If you have a plan, you create a record of discussed topics. This helps the mentor and mentee hold each other accountable for following through on the commitments each other makes during the experience.

Mentoring topics for 5 types of mentoring relationships

It may take proactive to integrate mentoring discussion topics into your mentorship experience. 

Remember, a good starting point is to think about your career goals for the mentorship experience. What do you want to get out of this relationship? That one question is a springboard to several meaningful topics to dive into. 

If you’re really stuck, don’t worry. Below, we’ve outlined five common mentorship scenarios, useful discussion topics, and basic questions to get you started. 

Leadership mentoring

Leadership mentoring allows employees in leadership positions to show younger employees what it is like to be a leader in the company. 

This type of mentorship is excellent for giving employees an idea of what it is like to be in a higher position and learn the skills needed to grow within the company. 

Discussion topics for future leaders

Below is a list of topics that can be used to discuss to plan a leadership mentoring program:

  1. Transitioning from employee to manager
  2. Who you should know as a new manager
  3. How to communicate effectively with your team
  4. The difference between managing and leading
  5. How to deliver feedback
  6. How to handle conflict with team members
  7. How to recognize high potential employees (HiPo) 

Questions for new managers

While the mentor needs to prepare themselves with the discussion topics, the mentee should also have a couple of key questions to ask the mentor. Below are some helpful questions the mentee can ask about the leadership experience.

  1. What was it like becoming a manager for you?
  2. What did it reveal about your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Was there anything unexpected that came from becoming a manager?
  4. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first became a manager?
  5. Does the way you interact with your coworkers change as you move up? How do you manage this?
  6. What key mindsets do I need to have as a manager?
  7. How do you prioritize your to-do list? 
  8. What’s your preferred communication channel? 
  9. Do you have any tips on improving public speaking?
  10. What leadership skills do you wish you had developed earlier in your career?

Reverse mentoring 

Reverse mentoring involves junior employees acting as mentors to senior leaders or executives. 

This type of mentorship allows leaders to get a new perspective on rising trends in areas of technology or the future of work. Additionally, this type of mentorship topic helps create more understanding among employees from diverse backgrounds.

Discussion topics for reverse mentoring

Below is a list of discussion topics for reverse mentorships:

  1. The differences in viewpoints different generations have on the workplace
  2. Conflicts that can arise between different generations working together in the modern workplace
  3. Potential biases in the workplace
  4. How to include more perspective in decision-making processes in your organization
  5. Share your unique perspective on work
  6. How to deal with change
  7. Learning new skills as you grow in your career
  8. Best practices for navigating digital channels, like LinkedIn and Slack 

Questions to ask in a reverse mentoring relationship

While discussion topics help create an agenda for a reverse mentorship experience, there are a few questions that can help further understand what both parties want out of the mentorship. 

The mentee can ask the following questions to the mentor:

  1. What significant changes have you experienced during your career?
  2. How did you deal with massive changes that were disruptive to the way you work?
  3. Where did the change come from?
  4. How do you feel about changes going on in our industry or business?
  5. How do you see your generation as different from others?
  6. What resources do you use to stay up to date with current technology? 
  7. What are some of your best practices for communicating through digital channels? 

Additionally, the mentor can ask the following questions to the mentee:

  1. What conflicts have you experienced while working with people older or younger than you?
  2. How do you feel about change? Does it excite or scare you?
  3. Do you need to learn new skills in the next two to five years? If so, what will they be?
  4. How do you approach learning in the workplace? Is it a luxury or a priority?
  5. Do you have a plan or goals for your career? Do you think they will change?
  6. What resources do you use to stay up to date with current technology? 
  7. What are some of your best practices for communicating through digital channels? 

Peer mentoring and coaching

Peer mentoring involves colleagues working together and coaching each other to learn new skills and understand each other’s perspectives. 

This type of mentorship program is great to share knowledge, encourages community, especially in remote work, and allows for smooth onboarding with buddy programs.

Discussion topics for a peer-to-peer relationship

Below are a few topics of discussion that would be helpful to establish an agenda in a peer-to-peer relationship.

  1. Similarities and differences between your roles
  2. Your strengths and weaknesses
  3. Challenges that you face in your day-to-day
  4. Goals you have for your career
  5. Skills you want to develop and what’s holding you back from achieving success
  6. Tactics for communicating with a manager 
  7. Networking opportunities

Questions to ask one another

The peer mentorship would also benefit from the following questions so both parties can better understand each other’s background.

  1. What is one thing you’ve noticed me doing well?
  2. How can I challenge myself to develop that skill further?
  3. What is one thing I can improve on?
  4. Is there an area of your skillset that you feel needs to be more developed?
  5. What’s the biggest pain point in your day-to-day? 
  6. Is there a dream title you want to achieve someday? 
  7. What’s something that is holding you back from achieving your goals?  
  8. Where do you find inspiration in the day-to-day? 

Mentoring circle 

Mentoring circles are similar to group mentoring, and they involve employees of all levels within the company. 

In this type of program, there are multiple mentees and mentors, as well as facilitators. The mentees must have something in common, whether they are new hires or have the potential to become leaders. 

The facilitator oversees the group and will schedule sessions, answer questions, and ensure mentors are prepared. Overall, the facilitator takes some of the pressure from the mentor with the administrative aspects of mentorships.

Discussion topics for a mentoring circle

Below are a few discussion topics that can be used for mentoring circles:

  1. Collaboration while working from home
  2. Maintaining a work-life balance as an organization
  3. Giving constructive feedback
  4. Time management techniques 
  5. Recommendations for industry-specific books or subject matter experts
  6. Wellness and mindfulness 
  7. Managing work-related stress and burnout 

Circle discussion questions

It is also helpful to have questions the group can discuss during sessions to better understand each other. Here are a few examples:

  1. How is Covid affecting your part of the business?
  2. How does work-from-home, remote work, or a return to work affect your day-to-day life?
  3. How are you building resilience – as an individual and an organization?
  4. Are you finding time to focus on your career growth and learning despite the disruptive changes over the past two years?
  5. When you’ve received critical feedback, what did the person say that helped you respond positively and not get defensive?
  6. How do you manage feelings of defensiveness while getting feedback?
  7. What do you find works well when giving feedback to others?
  8. How do you approach a work-life balance?
  9. Do you have practical tips for how to decompress or rest and recharge when not at work?
  10. How do you recognize that you’re starting to fall out of balance and experience burnout?

Diverse employees (Women, People of Color, and LGBTQIA+) 

Mentorships for diverse employees are vital in the workplace to keep employees satisfied and engaged. These programs have a two-fold benefit: They empower diverse employees to have a strong voice within the company and let employees know the company wants to invest in them as professionals. 

Any of the mentorship models mentioned above can be used for diverse employees. 

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, organizations with diverse employee workforce tend to see higher-than-average rates of innovation and a boost in revenue. Additionally, mentorships for women in the workplace lead to better retention rates since they feel like they can continue to grow within the company and won’t stall because of their gender, skin color, or background.

Discussion topics

Below are some helpful discussion topics when conducting a mentorship for diverse employees:

  1. The unique challenges of minority employees in the workplace
  2. How to overcome setbacks in your career
  3. Employee resource groups and their benefits and drawbacks
  4. Unconscious bias in the workplace
  5. How to build more equitable workplaces
  6. How to better your current organization 

Questions to ask

There are also a few questions that can help run the mentorship more smoothly.

  1. What setbacks have you faced in your career?
  2. What made you decide to enter into this field? 
  3. What was your first job like? 
  4. How did you work through the setbacks you faced?
  5. How do employee resources groups help build communities in our workplaces?
  6. What challenges do they help overcome?
  7. What must our leaders do to reinforce a more inclusive and equitable workforce?
  8. What role do we play in building better organizations?

Lean on Together to manage mentoring session topics 

With Together, you can run your company’s mentorship programs at the tip of your finger. 

The platform is designed with collaboration at its core, pairing employees according to your parameters. Best of all, the tool helps HR and L&D professionals create meaningful connections among employees remotely

On top of managing the pairing process for mentors and mentees, the platform lets you schedule sessions with calendar integrations. As the mentorships continue, you can monitor progress with participant scores and adjust the program as you see fit. When a mentoring relationship ends, you get a final report on how much everyone has grown throughout the experience.

Ready to get started? Book a demo to learn more from our live experts

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