Starting and Sustaining a Mentoring Relationship

One of the tools most useful in starting and managing a mentoring partnership is a mentoring plan. A helpful way to think of a mentoring plan is that it is a roadmap. It outlines the journey that you think you want to take and it helps you stay on track and monitor your progress. Over the years, I have used a plan that consists of three basic parts:

  1. Your Career
    1. We all have questions about some aspect of our careers. If you don't have a notion of where to go next, you can talk to a mentor and get help for designing a pathway into the future. If you have a career goal already established, then talk about that. What does that next level entail? What are the duties? How do you prepare? Should you complete your degree or take a lateral transfer? If you have been promoted and made the transition from independent contributor to supervising others and have no clue what is required of you, a seasoned mentor can be an incredible asset.
  2. Your Development Needs
    1. When you set a goal to move forward out of your present level or position, you immediately create a gap in your capabilities, so you need to acquire new knowledge, skills, abilities, etc. Can your mentor shed some light on how you can fill the gaps in your capabilities? What information has been pointed out in your performance evaluations and other assessments?
  3. What's Happening Right Now in the Workplace
    1. What challenges are you experiencing in your current environment, including difficulties with your current manager? A not-so-surprising number have difficulties with their bosses. A study in a Florida university reported that upward of 40 % of employees surveyed had bosses who were disruptive to their work life (Ray, 2006). Some have difficulties with peers. These are areas where an experienced and wise mentor can be invaluable and help you leverage your success in a confidential discussion.
    2. Others are doing very well, but informed that there is no place left for them to move in the organization. Mentors can help chart a career path which may even be outside of the present organization.
    3. Also, these days especially, company plans, initiatives and economic challenges can constantly change without much communication or explanation to the workforce. Very often a senior mentor can help make sense of what is taking place around you.
    4. Quality of Work Life Issues and What Is Happening within the Partnership will be discussed in the next blog. Really there is no limit to what the content of the mentoring discussion can be. Look for the next blog which will further discuss content and building trust.

For more information contact Ruth Simeon, Principal Consultant, Improvement Technologies at 323-823-8528 or see some of our tools and processes at Not to be reprinted without permission from the author. Excerpts from Mentorship: A Pathway to Career Success, ©2008

Back to Articles