Getting Your Mentoring Relationship Off to a Good Start

Your First Interaction

It is recommended that the mentee make the initial contact with his/her mentor, and provide the mentor with such information as a preferred name, or nickname, areas of interest, and any specific reasons for participating in the mentoring program.

At this point, it may also be helpful for each of you to consider how much time you can devote to the relationship, what skills and knowledge you can contribute, and your expectations of the relationship. Discussion of the following points can help clarify the role and level of participation in the relationship. These questions can provide a basis for discussion during your initial interaction:

  • What do you expect in a Mentee or Mentor?

  • What are some specific objectives you wish to achieve in this relationship?

  • What knowledge, skill, and abilities possessed by your Mentee/Mentor will most benefit you in achieving your objectives?

  • How will we establish and ensure regular, ongoing interactions?

  • Will our interactions be scheduled and/or will some be informal and spontaneous?

  • Who will initiate these interactions?

  • How often will we interact?

  • How will we develop the trust and rapport necessary to a productive relationship?

  • How will we ensure the relationship is working for both of us? What tips would you give your Mentee/Mentor so he/she can be most successful in working with you?

  • How will we handle feedback?

  • How will we handle conflict with each other?

  • How will we know the relationship has been successful?

  • At what point do we/should we terminate the mentoring relationship?

  • Additional information you would like to share with your Mentee/Mentor.

Establishing Regular Contact

In our piloted mentor program, we found that the mentoring pairs who maintained regular contact fared the best. Not every contact need be lengthy or weighty. Brief messages containing small talk are as necessary for establishing a relationship as long, deep communications.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to maintain contact with one another at least two times per month. Email is the usual mode of communication.