Getting your relationship started on the right foot is important to the success of your mentoring relationship. It requires that you make time to prepare yourself and to engage in a mentoring conversation that focuses on preparing the relationship.
Before meeting with a prospective mentoring partner you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Why do I want to be in a mentoring relationship?
- Am I ready for a mentoring relationship?
- What mentoring skills do I have?
- What mentoring skills do I need?
- How will I go about enhancing my skills?
Get to know your mentoring partner at an initial conversation. What does each of you bring to the relationship? What are your past mentoring experiences? Be open and frank. Share your assumptions, expectations and limitations. Talk about why and what you want to learn. A discussion of learning styles will help you define how best to achieve your learning goals.
By the end of the initial mentoring conversation (be it one or several sessions) mentoring partners should know whether there is a fit. Before you decide to move forward, can you answer the following positively:
- Do I have a sincere interest in helping this person succeed?
- Can I enthusiastically engage in this relationship?
- Does there appear to be mutual interest and compatibility?
- Am I clear about my role?
- Am I the best person to help this mentee achieve his/her goals?
- Am I willing to use my network of contacts to help this individual?
- Do I have access to the kind of opportunities that can support this person’s learning?
- Can I commit adequate time available to mentoring this person?