While we know from extensive research findings that mentorship is quite valuable to the mentee’s career development, recent research also indicates that this relationship is beneficial to the mentor, too . It turns out that mentoring is valuable to both the mentor and the mentee. For the mentee, it seems that there are two categories of mentoring functions.
First, career functions assist the mentee in gaining corporate exposure, learning about organizational life and learning specific job functions. Second, psychosocial functions arise through role modelling and counselling, which result in an increased feeling of competence, effectiveness and self-worth at work . For the mentor, positive outcomes include higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, career success and lower turnover intent .
Because mentoring is so beneficial to both mentor and mentees, Fellow has put together a guide on how to approach a mentor meeting, how to build your mentor relationship, how to further define your career path and how mentorship can contribute to your overall career development.
- What is a mentor meeting?
- How to prepare for a mentor meeting
- Choosing the right mentoring topics
- Questions for your mentor meeting
- Tips for your next mentor meeting
- Parting advice
What is a mentor meeting?
A mentor meeting is when a mentor and mentee who have been assigned or who have committed to one another meet in order to build familiarity, set expectations for the relationship, and begin to learn from one another. Typically, it’s up to the mentee or the protege to create the mentor meeting agenda, and to come prepared, ready to outline what they would like to discuss and really taking the initiative in the relationship.
In a mentoring meeting, it’s important to put an emphasis on learning about one another. Discuss personal and professional history in order to establish a common ground. You can also talk about topics centered around leadership, situational advice and skills. In this type of meeting, it’s important to set some expectations in terms of what the mentor relationship will encompass, set up recurring meetings, and highlight the mentee’s goals.
How to prepare for a mentor meeting
It’s vital to the success of the mentor-mentee relationship for both parties to prepare in advance. This is especially true for the mentee. It’s important for both of you to research each other’s professional backgrounds, to gain an overall understanding of the other person’s skills, experiences and interests. As a mentor, it may be important to ask the mentee to come prepared to the meeting with some questions to initiate the conversation and relationship.
As a mentee, think about what your professional goals are and how you can translate them into a topic area that you’d like to discuss with your mentor. Prepare your meeting agenda in advance of the meeting and ask your mentor if they would like to add any topics for discussion. As a mentor, think about which experiences may give a valuable perspective to your mentee, and which tips and tricks may be specifically beneficial to their career development in the industry.
Choosing the right mentoring topics
There are a multitude of mentor meeting topics that you can discuss, and this will depend on the interests of the mentee, as well as organizational needs. Here are some important topics that are worth covering in a mentor meeting:
Career development conversations are important and mentors can offer valuable advice in this domain, because they have likely worked through similar obstacles to the ones that the mentee is facing in their career. Although career development interests differ, the mentor tends to have a strong organizational knowledge to do with how to gain experience or exposure in particular areas, which can help mentees move in a particular direction in their careers.
As a mentor, ask the employee questions about their optimal career path and questions that might prompt them to think about if their current position aligns with that path. This will help you understand what kind of guidance is going to be valuable to your mentee.
Another valuable mentor meeting topic is to give or receive situational advice. Because a mentor tends to be more senior and likely has a great deal of experience in the industry, they’re a great person to talk to about how to approach a specific situation and to ask for some advice.
It’s a great idea to build situational advice into each meeting agenda for your mentorship meeting, because things tend to arise quickly in the workplace and a lot of the time, these things are unforeseeable. This way, there is always some delegated time to talk about an issue or roadblock the mentee has been facing. This type of topic can therefore be used time after time to address any immediate questions.
Use a meeting agenda tool like Fellow to collaborate on meeting agendas, record decisions, and keep your mentee (or mentor!) accountable.
Skill-related feedback has to do with specific job competencies. For instance, this could be feedback on a design for a designer, on code for a software engineer, on a campaign or email for a marketer, etc. As a mentee, think about which skills you already have, which skills you are seeking to gain and which skills you want to focus on developing the most.
For the mentor, this is a good opportunity to assess the overall performance of the employee and then help direct them to the right resource to gain some more experience where their interests lie. This could be in the form of job shadowing, on-the-job training or simply collaborating with other co-workers in order to learn more in a specific area.
Questions for your mentor meeting
It can be tough to identify which questions might be the most beneficial to a mentoring meeting. For that reason, we’ve provided some examples for you to use below:
Question ideas for mentors (to ask mentees)
- Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, 10 years?
- What are you passionate about?
- What skills would you like to learn in the next months?
- How can I help you achieve those goals?
- Is there anyone in my network that I could introduce you to?
Question ideas for mentees (to ask mentors)
- What courses / books / resources have made an impact on your career?
- What’s some leadership advice you’d share with another manager? Maybe an early lesson or mistake you learned from?
- How do you measure your goals / professional development?
- What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
- How do you overcome feelings of doubt or imposter syndrome?
- What are your expectations for me? How often would it be ok for me to check in with you?
Tips for your next mentor meeting
Here are our top 5 tips to implement for your next mentorship meeting:
1 Prepare in advance
Preparation is key for these meetings to be effective. As a mentor and a mentee, make sure you prepare in advance! The mentee should prepare the meeting agenda and send it ahead of time. They should also do their homework to understand the professional background of their mentor and understand where their mentor’s specialties lie. Make sure to prepare some questions for your mentor so that you can make the most out of your discussion. As a mentor, it’s also important that you prepare some questions for the employee so that you can understand how to best guide them and act as a role model to them.
2 Set milestones and objectives
The mentee and mentor need to collaborate in order to set some goals that you can work towards collectively. The mentee should highlight which areas they would like to develop and the mentor should think about how they can best support and guide the employee towards reaching their career development goals. This is a great way to track progress and to realign on tangible actions that can be made towards achieving milestones at each mentor meeting.
3 Mentees: Be open to constructive feedback
It’s crucial that as a mentee, you’re open to constructive criticism and feedback. Remember that your mentor has your best interest at heart and is putting a lot of time and energy into helping you realize your goals. Any kind of feedback that you receive is for your own benefit. You may not always agree with the feedback, but simply take note and consider it openly. While some feedback may not resonate with you, a lot of feedback will provide valuable guidance.
4 Mentors: Set expectations for your mentorship
As a mentor, make sure that you’re setting expectations for your mentorship. Clearly explain that the mentee needs to take the initiative and put in the work if they want to see results and if they want to progress in their careers. Ensure that the mentee knows to come prepared to each meeting and is in the habit of sending the meeting agenda to you in advance, so that you are both prepared to have a productive and efficient conversation.
5 Follow through and follow up
In the mentor-mentee relationship, it’s important that you both hold each other accountable. This means following up on previous discussions. You can create action items at the end of each meeting and assign them to one another so that you are tracking the more tangible tasks. This is a great way to follow through on plans that you’ve made together and follow up on the progress of initiatives previously discussed. It’s important that you are both willing and able to hold each other accountable and responsible for the commitments that have been made.
Mentoring and the mentor relationship is reciprocal, collaborative and beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee . This is important to recognize for organizations and Human Resource professionals, so that they can make potential mentors aware of the organizational and psychological benefits available to them, by providing guidance to their colleagues, and with the hopes of attracting more interest in mentorship programs.
Make sure that prior to your first mentor meeting you think about which topics you want to cover and put them into a meeting agenda. You can then add relevant questions to each section as a prompt for further discussion. Be sure to also review the 5 tips we’ve provided to think about before your next mentorship meeting. As always, thanks for joining us on the Fellow blog! We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Fowler, J. L., & O’Gorman, J. G. (2005). Mentoring Functions: A Contemporary View of the Perceptions of Mentees and Mentors. British Journal of Management, 16, 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2005.00439.x
Ghosh, R., & Reio Jr., T. G. (2013). Career benefits associated with mentoring for mentors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83, 106–116.