What to Expect from Mentoring Relationships

Written by
Laura Francis

What to expect from mentoring meetings with two women meeting to learn.A successful mentoring program consists of a relationship-based learning process that benefits both mentees and mentors. The mentors offer guidance and support to less experienced individuals based on their industry experience and knowledge. The goal of mentoring relationships is to facilitate personal and professional growth and development. When done correctly, it can be an excellent transformative experience for everyone involved.

Setting realistic expectations makes mentorship programs effective, leading to career advancement for the mentees (if that is their end goal). Before you embark on a mentorship program, it pays to know your roles and responsibilities as part of this mentoring relationship so you can find ways to maximize the career advice and opportunity for professional growth that is provided to you.

Roles and Expectations for Mentees

As a mentee, you have a crucial role in driving the mentorship program to achieve its goal. Think of it as a partnership with your mentor instead of being a passive participant. Actively participating and taking ownership of your professional growth enables you to maximize the benefits of mentoring.

The following is what you can expect to play as part of the mentoring process, taking on the role of a mentee.

Actively Listening and Learning

Active listening is a fundamental skill that a mentee must possess if you want to advance your career and optimize the knowledge you can get from your mentor. You must be fully engaged and committed to the mentoring process as your mentor.

Actively engage in discussions to gain new ideas and new perspectives shared by the mentor. Focus on obtaining valuable insights and seek clarification if something is unclear. Make your questions thoughtful and always solicit constructive criticism so you can find ways to develop new skills or improve on your existing ones. Be brave in how you engage with your mentor and what weaknesses you are willing to break through to gain new skills and insights.

Mentees are pivotal in fostering an effective learning environment through the mentorship program. It is your responsibility to obtain and apply the feedback given to you for your personal and professional development.

Take the initiative and accountability

As a mentee, another way you can optimize the mentor and mentee relationship is to set short-term goals and identify your objectives. Identifying specific goals enable you to achieve motivation for the mentoring process and gives a sense of direction to the mentoring process. For example, you want to learn a new skill or become familiar with a particular working process. It can also be general, such as learning to step out of your comfort zone.

Women in accountability meeting or mentoring.

Identifying specific goals tied to your mentoring relationship gives the process a sense of purpose. It also makes you accountable so that you know what the mentor expects of you and develop ways to optimize the success of this process. Without those goals, you won’t be able to align your mentoring activities to become proactive and measure your development success.

The above expectations for the role of a mentee are just one of many things you must remember to achieve your mentoring goals. But these are critical to ensure you are on the right track with your mentor partnership.

Roles and Expectations for Mentors

Like mentees, there are certain expectations of mentors to ensure they can facilitate guidance and share knowledge with someone less experienced than them. Mentees look up to mentors, so there are higher expectations from anyone filling this role.

Mentors bring expertise into the mentorship program. They can offer advice, guidance and a new perspective that would help advance a mentee’s career. Since you’ve been through the same path the mentees are projecting to pursue, it gives the latter confidence to gain feedback and insight from you as you’ve been through the same challenges they had in the past.

Providing Guidance and Feedback

A mentor’s primary role and expectations are to provide guidance and feedback. Mentees draw upon your expertise and experience to navigate the challenges of their career path such that they can make informed decisions and eliminate potential mistakes that could derail their career progression. Mentors also provide insights into the essential skills and knowledge that mentees must work on to avoid common career pitfalls.

Therefore, a mentor should be honest in providing guidance and feedback. This transparency is vital so the mentee can make appropriate adjustments and develop an action plan to facilitate growth and development. But remember to keep it supportive so they are inspired to learn and grow.

Encourage Growth

About the above, focus on providing constructive feedback and criticism to mentees in a mentorship program. Challenge the mentees’ limitations and assumptions so they can adapt a critical thinking process and innovate. Push them beyond their comfort zone so they develop a continuous learning mindset and desire to unlock their fullest potential.

The most successful professionals continually seek skill-building opportunities and think creatively when they need to overcome obstacles in their career path. These are the non-technical aspects of mentorship that can prove valuable in the success of the relationship. And mentors are pivotal in making this happen for the mentee.

Expectations on the Structure and Dynamics of Mentoring

To facilitate achieving a mentee’s goals, the mentoring relationship must follow a certain structure and dynamic. The importance of regular and good communication cannot be overstated. At the same time, more emphasis should be given to the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and mentee in the relationship.

Conduct Regular Meetings

When you enter into a mentoring relationship, it is crucial to conduct regular meetings. The goal is to est

Two people meeting virtually for regularly-scheduled mentoring meetings.

ablish a strong connection and bond between the mentor and mentee.

Before starting the mentorship program, you must establish how often you would meet and your ideal mode of communication. You should have a good mix of in-person meetings, chats, phone calls, and video messaging. Keeping your contact consistent would foster trust and allows timely and honest feedback. It also enables constant monitoring of growth and development that would align with the mentee’s goals.

The expectations would be that both the mentor and mentee should express their commitment to time and effort to the success of this relationship. Therefore, both parties should honor their commitments to the agreed meeting schedule and be prepared for each session with an outline of what you will talk about and any questions that would facilitate the discussion.

Clearly Define Roles and Expectations

Aside from agreeing on the frequency of your scheduled mentoring sessions, you should also clearly identify your roles and responsibilities. Being honest with your expectations in the relationship will help you discuss whether those expectations are achievable. You can facilitate a learning environment built on open dialogue and honest communication.

In addition, setting expectations clearly from the start enables each party to leverage their strengths and identify weaknesses that should be improved. Understanding your respective roles will accelerate the learning process and maximize the value of the partnership.

Establishing Mentoring Relationships

The relationship between mentor and mentee is crucial to a good mentorship program. Fostering a healthy bond makes each session productive and facilitates a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

But how do you achieve that? Two critical aspects make mentorship programs critical to professional growth and development.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Before you begin any mentorship program, it is always best to start by identifying the career goals and objectives of the mentee. The mentee must know what they aim to achieve through the mentoring relationship and what they need to do to support that. The success of this relationship lies not only in the mentor but in the mentee’s active participation. It also enables you to assess if your goals are achievable and whether you need to tweak them.

Setting realistic objectives and goals avoids potential frustrations while allowing you to maximize the full potential of your mentoring sessions.

Choosing the Right Mentor

Choosing the right mentor is a critical aspect you should spend time on before beginning your mentoring. Mentees must select a mentor with relevant expertise in their field or industry. That way, they can learn from the mentor’s experience working in the same industry and gain valuable insights into the knowledge and skills they must develop to succeed in their career goals.

Aside from the professional expertise of the mentor, you must also evaluate the mentor’s personality type. You should be compatible with each other and must establish a good rapport. The mentor and mentee must be comfortable working and communicating with each other to facilitate effective mentoring.

Compatibility extends beyond shared expertise or interest and refers to shared values and communication styles.

What Not to Expect from Mentoring

Mentoring has its limita

tions and can only be as effective as you use it and as long as you have found a good match for a mentor. A mentor cannot magically make your career goals come true or guarantee career advancement. You – the mentee – must apply what you have learned and build a successful career path.

Understanding what to expect fro

m mentoring is crucial since many mentees have this pretext that the program’s success lies with the mentor alone. They must know that as a mentee, they play just as critical of a role in the program’s success.

Two men meeting in a mentoring program with discussing their expectations.A mentor cannot provide you with or guarantee that you’ll get job offers by the end of the program. They will only equip you with knowledge, industry insights, and career advice. They won’t directly lead you to job opportunities; you must actively seek them using your new skills and confidence.

Meanwhile, a mentor is not your therapist. They are there to provide professional guidance and support, especially in areas of your career progress and professional development that you need help with the most. You are not there to discuss your personal life and issues. Respe

ct their time and effort to mentor you and spare them meaningless conversations.

Lastly, mentors are not there to spoon-feed you. They will share their industry expertise and insights with you, and it’s up to you how you use that information to advance your career. They aim to encourage you to develop a critical thinking process, so don’t expect them to hand over every piece of information.

Expect Mentoring to Be A Learning Experience

Various challenges could arise in mentorship programs. From poor communication and misalignment of expectations, things could quickly go wrong.

Establishing boundaries and setting expectations from the start is crucial to ensure the mentor and mentee are on the same page. It is also important to honor the edges of the mentors and do your best to create a supportive learning environment where both of you stand to benefit from the experience.

Related Resources

Start a diversity and inclusion mentorship program: A guide

Read More

Why Mentoring Women Benefits Your Bottom Line

Read More


Ready to see all the benefits River has in store for your organization?