One of the keys to a successful mentor/mentee relationship is to set some ground rules and stick to them. Sit down with your prospective mentee and discuss the expectations of both parties, i.e., what do you and the mentee expect to get out of the relationship? It’s a given that the mentee is seeking your time, wisdom, and advice, but if you as the mentor don’t also get some kind of mental satisfaction, your interest in the relationship will quickly wane.
Discuss how often you will get together. Will you meet for lunch once a week or for an hour in your office several times a month? It is important that you create an actual meeting schedule and stick to it. Without a set schedule, life will get in the way and you will cancel more meetings than you attend.
Next, set some guidelines and limitations. How often can your mentee call? Is it OK for them to call your cell phone, or should they go through your secretary? Can they drop by the office anytime? Can they call you at home after 5 p.m.?
Set some goals for the mentee. Assign them homework. Give them a task. The relationship must be more than just chewing the fat. The point is to help the mentee grow, personally and professionally. Give them a list of books to read. Recommend seminars they should attend. Have them outline their business goals in writing. Then set milestones and hold them accountable for reaching them.
From your side of the fence, don’t be afraid to share your successes and failures. Let your experience be their guide. Help them identify opportunities and avoid potholes that you may have hit along the way. Don’t be embarrassed to tell the truth, especially if it can keep your mentee from making the same mistakes you did.
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