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  • Catherine Hodgson

Ten ingredients for a successful mentoring relationship

Just like you need ingredients and a method to bake a successful cake, so you need to have a good recipe to establish a rewarding mentoring relationship.

1. Set ground rules: Establish clear expectations upfront. In your first meeting, which I call “the chemistry meeting”, both the mentor and mentee should discuss and have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and objectives for their mentoring relationship.

2. Establish purpose: Create a structured plan outlining goals, objectives, and milestones that will guide the mentoring relationship and help track progress. Ensure that goals are realistic, achievable and have some measure in them. They should be relevant to the mentee's personal and/or professional development.

3. Build trust: Build rapport and trust from the beginning of your mentoring relationship by being open, honest and vulnerable with each other. Ensure that all your meetings are completely confidential. This will create a safe and supportive environment for the mentee.

4. Meet regularly: Regular communication is crucial to the success of the mentoring relationship. Establish a regular meeting schedule by meeting every 4 – 6 weeks to keep the momentum going. Sessions more than 8 weeks apart can lead to the mentoring relationship fizzling out.

5. Ask for and provide feedback: Provide positive and constructive feedback to the mentee on their progress as well as areas for improvement. Also encourage your mentee to share their own feedback and thoughts on their mentoring journey.

6. Mentee drives the relationship: The mentee needs to take ownership of their mentoring journey by setting up meetings, preparing for each meeting and working on their action plan between sessions. As a mentor you will provide guidance, support, and resources that will help the mentee grow and develop in their personal and professional life.

7. Hold back on advice and rather share your experiences: Share relevant experiences, insights, successes, failures and best practices that will help your mentee learn and develop.

8. Be patient: Mentoring takes time so don’t expect things to get resolved within the first few meetings. Allow the mentee to learn and grow at their own pace, let them come up with their own solutions and provide support and guidance throughout the process.

9. Review progress: Review your relationship regularly and evaluate progress against the established goals and objectives. This will ensure that the mentoring relationship is on track and meeting expectations for both of you.

10. End your mentoring relationship: Every mentoring relationship comes to an end. Celebrate it, reflect on your learning and discuss next steps.

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