Mentors and mentees must understand that mentoring is a voluntary activity. Create the relationship as a no-fault one, whereby either party can end it for any reason or no reason. An up-front understanding that no justifications will be given will help the parties adjust to any changes down the road. Since a mentoring relationship goes beyond obligation, and contains at least some degree of voluntary activity on both sides, both parties should set ground rules and develop shared expectations at the outset of the relationship.
Creating the Agreement
As the mentor, contact the mentee to arrange a meeting date and time. Set aside 60 minutes.
Prepare a list of questions to ask during the initial meeting to create the agreement. Sample topics the mentor should explore include what the mentee would like to get from the relationship; what the mentor can do to increase the comfort level; what development needs, knowledge, skills or insights would be of greatest value to the mentee and what expectations and objectives the mentee has at this time.
Open the initial meeting by asking each of the preplanned questions. Write the responses down to begin to formulate the agreement.
Focus on mentor responsibilities first. Draft the key points and responsibilities for the mentor in the agreement. Clarify each point for understanding, if necessary.
Determine the mentee’s responsibilities. Some examples include being open-minded to feedback and suggestions; taking initiative in making decisions without waiting for approval; follow-through on commitments; seeking help when necessary; contributing ideas about alternatives and a willingness to discuss negative results as well as positive results.
Draft the key points and responsibilities for the mentee in the agreement.
If appropriate, sign and date the agreement. Each party should leave with a copy.
Gain agreement on future meeting locations, time frames, content, methods of communication -- such as email, phone or text -- the process for canceling a meeting and how to handle an immediate request for assistance.
Schedule a 30-day follow-up meeting to determine how the agreement is working for both parties.
Your goal as the mentor is to create a relationship with your mentee that is mutually rewarding and satisfying, while also achieving some predetermined objectives and expectations. In crafting the agreement, encourage the mentee to provide as much insight as possible so it is truly a collaborative effort from the beginning.
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