What to Talk About in Your Business Mentoring Relationships

First quarter is a common time for many of our clients to launch new mentoring programs. So we thought we'd focus this newsletter on something we know mentorees often struggle with: what should they talk about with their mentors?

There are basically two types of discussions to have: Conversations about the nature of the mentoring relationship and conversations around the mentoree's career.

Let's dig deeper into each one. 

   

Discussions about the nature of the relationship

Mentors and mentorees should have this discussion at the beginning of the relationship so that both partners understand expectations and how the relationship will work. Here are some of the major points to discuss: 

  • How often will we meet and for how long?
  • What methods will we use to communicate (phone, email, Skype, and so forth)?
  • What structure will we use when we meet? For example, will the mentoree have an agenda or will we meet and discuss whatever is critical at that time?
  • How will we give and receive feedback from one another? Some people prefer a direct approach while others are more subtle. This can be particularly true when mentoring across cultures, so if you're engaged in cross-cultural mentoring, be clear about these nuances. Here are some communication tips
  • Specifically, how will we address concerns that we're having with one another? Here are tips on saving a match
  • Is anything open for discussion or are there certain limits? For example, can I discuss my personal life and how it impacts my professional life, or do we keep these two areas separate?
  • What is -- or is not -- confidential in our relationship?

Discussions about the mentoree's career
The sky's the limit when it comes to discussing a mentoree's career, but here are some typical topics and questions for mentorees to ask their mentors: 
  • This is what I'd like to focus on in our relationship concerning my career. I'd be interested in your feedback or comments about whether this is realistic and the best way to use my talents.
  • These are my top 3-5 strengths, and these are my 3-5 areas needing development. How can you help me with those areas? What has been your experience working in these areas?
  • I'd like to discuss my relationship with my current supervisor, including what works and what doesn't. I'd appreciate any insights you can provide in enhancing my relationship with my supervisor.
  • What lessons have you learned along your career path that you feel would be helpful for me as I consider my own future?
  • These are x key mistakes that I feel I've made in my career and what I have learned from these mistakes. Do you have similar experiences?
  • I'm reading a great resource on career development. Could we use this resource to work together and do some of the action items listed?
  • I'm involved in doing a presentation next week. Would you be willing to attend and provide me feedback on how I interact with others at the presentation?

Remember, at Management Mentors, we provide plenty of resources like these to help you with the mentoring process. We also have state-of-the-art mentoring software and knowledge share software to help your organization achieve its employee development goals.

As always, if you have questions or need more guidance, don't hesitate to contact us.

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