Mentoring success doesn’t just happen. It is brought about by the conscious choice we make to engage in a continuous stream of focused and robust conversation.

In our previous blog we wrote about the importance of good conversation in building trust and facilitating learning in mentoring relationships.  Here are seven conversations that all mentors and mentees should be engaged in and some tips to help you deepen the conversation.

#1: Conversation with Yourself

  • Ask yourself why you want to be engaged in a mentoring relationship.
  • What is it you can contribute to it?
  • What is it that you hope to gain from it?
  • What attributes and characteristics are important to you in a mentoring partner?
  • What lessons have you learned about mentoring from your previous mentoring experiences?


#2: Prospective Mentor Conversation

  • If you are a mentee, be specific about what you want to learn and why you want to learn it.
  • If you are a mentor, make sure you are clear about your prospective mentee’s motivations and goals.
  • If you are a mentee,
    • Show genuine enthusiasm for your work
    • Find ways to demonstrate your commitment to your own growth and development
    • Provide evidence that you are ready to learn and conscientious
    • Determine if you both think this relationship is a good match for each of you.


#3: Accountability Conversation

  • Establish ground rules at the beginning of the relationship.
    • Decide when and where you will meet.
    • Agree on who will be responsible for scheduling mentoring meetings.
    • Discuss confidentiality and come to agreement about what it means in the context of your relationship.
    • What are the boundaries of the relationship (what is not appropriate and shouldn’t be part of your conversations)?
    • Share your “hot buttons.” What are those behaviors that other people engage in that push your buttons?


#4: Goal Conversation

  • Focus mentoring time and attention on what you want to learn by creating SMART goals.
  • The mentee’s goals should require a stretch to reach them; they should be future-oriented and aligned with the mentee’s development goals.
  • Choose no more than three goals to work on at one time.
  • Make sure each goal is specific and targeted.
  • Define measurements and milestones for each of the goals to let you know that you are making progress.


#5: Feedback Conversation

  • Regularly build feedback into mentoring conversations.
  • Be specific and descriptive when you ask for feedback. It helps the other person know what you are looking for.
  • When giving feedback, be specific and provide examples.
  • Focus on behaviors, not personality when giving feedback.
  • Check for understanding and agreement.
  • Ask for feedback on your feedback.


#6: Check-In Conversation

  • Set up a regular schedule to check in with your mentoring partner when you establish your ground rules.
  • Evaluate your process to see if it is working for both of you.
  • Assess your progress.
  • Talk about how the relationship is going.
  • Discuss how you are using your time and what adjustments you might need to make to be more efficient and productive.


#7: Closure Conversation

  • Make time to plan how and when you will bring the relationship to closure.
  • Reflect on what you have learned and how you will leverage the learning and take it to the next level.
  • Celebrate your successes in a meaningful way.
  • Redefine the relationship. Will you continue with the same mentoring partner? If so, what will remain the same? What will be different?
  • Talk about moving on to the next phase. Will you continue to be in contact and if so what might that look like?