Mentoring Agreements Create the Foundation for Your Relationship

Laura Francis
Written by
Laura Francis

Help Mentees and Mentors Start Off Right

foundationEstablishing the groundwork for your mentoring relationship is a key element for success. You give yourself and your mentoring partner an advantage by creating a mentoring agreement at the beginning of the relationship, which provides a concrete foundation for what each wishes to accomplish through the mentoring relationship. It also helps you both manage relational expectations and clearly define your commitments. Ultimately, a good agreement provides the framework for the scope of the relationship and acts as a contract between the mentee and mentor.

The process of negotiating this agreement should be seen as a constructive dialogue between the mentoring partners. The mentee should create the first draft of the mentoring agreement before ever meeting with or speaking to the mentor. By creating the agreement before meeting with the mentor, the mentee proactively begins to take the relationship into their own hands and forms a better understanding of exactly what it is they want to learn.

HandshakeEven though the mentee creates the original version of the agreement, the mentor will give constructive feedback and input to the final draft of the agreement with the mentee so that each feels responsible for the finished product. Both parties must be involved in refining and ratifying the mentoring agreement, since both will be held accountable to it.

Several factors should be covered in a mentoring agreement:

  • The mentee’s learning needs and development goals
  • Ways the mentee will be held accountable for their development (both by the mentor and themselves)
  • Areas of the relationship that the mentee and/or mentor want to remain confidential
  • An ideal schedule for meeting
  • Ways for both the mentee and mentor to monitor progress

Mentoring AgreementsThe mentee and mentor will work together on the final draft of the agreement. Based on the essential elements of a mentoring agreement, mentees should keep the following questions in mind when negotiating the final agreement.

  • Can my mentor help me meet these goals?
  • How will I be held accountable for my progress?
  • Do these confidentiality standards meet both of our needs?
  • Will this meeting schedule work for me?
  • How can we both monitor my progress?

Based on the essential elements of the mentoring agreement, mentors should consider asking the following questions of the mentee’s proposed agreement.

  • Can I help my mentee meet these goals?
  • Are there additional ways I can help my mentee retain accountability for their progress?
  • Do these confidentiality standards meet both of our needs?
  • Will this meeting schedule work for me?
  • How can the mentee and I both monitor progress?

By asking these questions of the mentoring agreement and using the agreement as the foundation for your mentoring relationship, you can better address any relational components that may arise during the relationship, such as misunderstandings, personality conflicts and unmet expectations. Additionally, the mentoring agreement will help you focus your energy and time so that you stay attentive to the core purpose for your relationship.

Get more tips on how you can be an effective mentee or mentor in these River blog posts.

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