I’ve been asked to be a mentor, now what?

Congratulations! Being a mentor is a great honor, that is not bestowed on everyone. As with many great honors, this one also comes with great responsibility. So let’s put together a plan.



Determine the kind of mentor you will be for this person

  • Reflect on the successful mentoring relationship that you have built. What worked well for you and what do you not want to repeat.
  • Define what your role is and all the ways you will help mentor them; resource, coach, champion, sounding board, devil’s advocate.
  • Consider what your own mentor style; advisory, cooperative, situational, relationship building.  Will you be a sounding board or give specific advice and expect them to implement it?

Define expectations

  • Consider what you want to accomplish in the meetings.
  • Establish the meeting frequency, how often will you meet?
  • Will the meeting be formal (in the office) or less formal (at lunch) or causal (a walking meeting)?
  • Set a time boundary for the two of you to check in to assess how the meetings are going. For example, determine that you will meet every 2 weeks for 3 months and then check in. This gives both of you a way out if you don’t want to continue, as well as acknowledges that not all mentoring relationships take hold.
  • Establish that the meeting will be work, including homework. This could be a recommended reading list, goal setting, action plan development. Create and document deliverables for the series of meetings.
  • The mentee will have to be fully engaged, complete homework, set up meetings, reschedule them and be ready to participate in the discussions.

Consider the person

  • What is the purpose of the mentoring relationship? Is there a specific topic they would like advice on? A specific goal they need help with, i.e. a promotion, project?
  • Be relatable and authentic. Tell personal stories of triumph as well as your learning opportunities, including times that you failed.
  • See them in action; Work on a project together and look to see first hand how you can help them, or how they are incorporating work from your meetings.

Remember that this is their career, you are here to help them. Also expect to grow from the process. You will learn something along the way, not only about the company, but also your leadership style, this person’s interests etc.

Keep an open mind and enjoy the conversations.

Here are some other thoughts on the topic:




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