You should establish the Mentoring Agreement during the first meeting.
This agreement spells out the expectations and goals as well as the specifics of the relationship. See our Mentoring Agreement Sample (PDF). The agreement should include contact information (including preferred methods and time), establish a meeting schedule, iterate objectives and goals of both parties, set progress check dates, and a termination date. After this is negotiated and completed, you are ready to start your mentoring partnership.
The main challenge facing your partnership is time commitment. Keep in mind that this agreement is taken on in addition to one’s professional and personal schedule and the mentoring partnership requires time, energy and work to ensure success. To help balance these aspects, a tight agreement as well as structured meetings can minimize wasted time and energy. Upon entering the partnership, you have already guaranteed your commitment, so you simply need tools to follow through.
Make the most of your Meeting Time:
- Regular and scheduled contact is a must. Look at your calendars and schedule your meetings at least three months in advance. A reoccurring time is easiest to honor.
- The mentee should structure the meeting and become good at making the most of brief encounters. The mentee should prepare for the meetings with a pre-shared agenda as well as questions and ideas ready.
- The mentor should have some dialogue prompts and be prepared for what is to be discussed on the agenda.
Think Beyond your Meetings to Stretch the Learning Opportunities:
- The mentee can attend already scheduled meetings of the mentor to learn from these interactions. A debrief can occur on the walk back from the meeting.
- Work side-by-side on a project.
- Develop productive telephone meetings.
These preparations can help minimize potential frustration. Now, how do we address the other main challenge of maintaining this momentum and keeping the time valuable? In the second official meeting, development goals are established. All of the meetings after will benefit from an established productive meeting criteria including looking at development goals and performing progress checks. This aspect is the long-term substance of the mentoring process.