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Career Development - Mentee Guide
Managing a Successful Mentoring Relationship



There are certain behaviors that could be considered requirements on the part of the mentee and the mentor in a mentoring relationship. These include:

Key Factors in Building an Effective Relationship

Research has shown that effective relationships have similar factors upon which they are built. These include:

Reciprocating the Relationship--What Do You Have to Offer?

Mentors are volunteers; they do not expect to get paid. They do, however, want to receive some satisfaction from the relationship. In a recent survey, mentors listed what they hoped to receive from a mentoring relationship. One response stood out above all others. Mentors hoped to make "an important, long-lasting, positive change in another person's life, something that would help their mentees move forward into their future."

The only way that mentors can know how they're doing is if mentees tell them. What you have to offer your mentor is your appreciation and an explanation of the impact the relationship has had on your current and future success.

It's as important to talk about what your mentor wants and needs from the relationship as it is to discuss your needs as a mentee.


Get Off to a Good Start

The better your mentoring relationship starts, the better and faster you will start experiencing results. There are some ways you can ensure that you start out on the right foot.

  1. Going through this website is a good start. Do the exercises and activities; they've been designed to help you start out well.
  2. Prepare for your first meeting with your mentor. Think about:
    • Your goals.
    • Your background (how have you gotten where you are now?).
    • What you hope to get from the relationship.
    • What you have to offer.
    • Questions for your mentor.
  3. Relax and enjoy the relationship. If you don't have any pressing needs at the time, ask your mentor questions about the lessons learned in his or her career.

Establish Norms

Whether you are in a formal, informal, or situational mentoring relationship, it's important to establish norms, or guidelines, for how the relationship will work. Doing this up front can help avoid needing to resolve differences later on. Both you and your mentor should give some thought to the norms you'd like to establish, have an open discussion about them, and come to an agreement. Some questions that can lead to norms might include:

Align Your Needs with Your Mentor's Abilities

One of the most important tasks to perform in building and maintaining a productive relationship with a mentor is to be very clear with him or her about what you expect and need. Any relationship can flounder if there are unstated needs and expectations that are not being met. No mentor can meet all of your needs, and it is crucial to give a mentor the opportunity to clarify what needs he or she can meet.

As a mentee, it's up to you to explicitly articulate your expectations to your mentor and engage in a conversation about whether those needs and expectations are realistic and appropriate.

Take some time now to jot down your expectations and assumptions of your mentor. Some examples of expectations and assumptions might be:

Have you shared your expectations with your mentor? What was the result?

Ending the Relationship

There will come a time that you feel you no longer have needs to be met by your mentor and therefore it's time to end the relationship. Ending the mentoring relationship well is important to your continued success - first impressions and last impressions are what we remember most about others. Make your last impression a positive one.

Here are some tips to end your mentoring relationship on a positive note:

Remember a mentoring relationship is not like a marriage or other permanent commitment; the goal is to help you move forward in your career and life goals. If this is not occurring and you do not see adjustments that can be made in the relationship to meet your goals, end it, respectfully and honestly.


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