Key Features of an Effective Mentoring Relationship

What are the benefits of effective mentoring?
To the Mentor To the Mentee To the Organization
  • Cultivated sense of purpose and leaving a legacy
  • Opportunity for relationship-building, new knowledge and fresh perspectives
  • Increased success, satisfaction, productivity and career opportunities
  • Enhanced skills to navigate culture of the professional environment and expand networks
  • Enhanced recruitment and retention
  • Maintained ‘institutional memory’ by passing of knowledge from one generation to the next
What are the qualities of an effective mentor and mentee?
Of the Mentor Of the Mentee
  • Knowledgeable, experienced and well-connected in organization and profession
  • Caring, flexible, empathetic, and patient
  • Good listener and communicator
  • Accessible and approachable
  • Proactive and actively engaged in the mentoring relationship
  • Dependable and able to adhere to deadlines
  • Good listener and communicator
  • Receptive to constructive feedback
What are the responsibilities in the mentoring relationship?
Of the Mentor Of the Mentee
  • Providing emotional and career support and guidance through regular feedback
  • Identifying and supporting the development of potential strengths and skills in the mentee
  • Providing inspiration and encouragement, while serving as an ethical role model
  • Seeking and encouraging opportunities for a mentee to expand professional networks and gain new experiences and skills
  • Helping the mentee to understand the professional culture of academia - structure, politics, and management
  • Identifying his or her own values, professional goals, and areas of need for development (best facilitated using an Individual Development Plan, or IDP)
  • Communicating in an open and respectful manner
  • Being flexible and receptive to honest feedback
  • Taking ownership of the outcomes of the mentoring relationship
  • Periodically assessing and evaluating the mentoring relationship to ensure that objectives are being met

Phases of the Mentoring Relationship

There are often distinct phases of the mentoring relationship in the traditional dyad approach to mentoring. Regardless of approach both the mentor and mentee are responsible for recognizing when the mentoring relationship is not working well, and being open to changes, even termination, in the relationship.

The trajectory of the four-stage, ongoing, long-term mentoring relationship can range from a few months to several years. There is a natural flow from one stage to the next (with some overlap between stages). The duration within each stage can be based on the project, both parties level of experience, and/or the context of the mentoring relationship.

  • Definition: The relationship begins to develop. As it grows, the level of commitment increases and the relationship becomes more important for both mentor and mentee.
  • Relationship: The mentee is an apprentice. The mentor is admired as a role model, supporter, and guide. Interactions between the mentor and protégé primarily revolve around work tasks.
  • Definition: During this stage, the relationship ends or transforms from inequality to equality. Ultimately, peer status is achieved.
  • Relationship: The relationship may have started with ambivalence or discomfort which transforms into gratitude (and possible friendship). 
  • Definition: This stage occurs after significant change in mentor/mentee roles or as a result of an emotional experience within the mentoring relationship. For example, separation could occur when the mentee has advanced to the point where they no longer need mentoring or as a result of unattained goals which create disappointment and frustration.
  • Relationship: The mentee may become a mentor or desire more autonomy. The mentor may be available on less frequent basis.
  • Definition: During this stage, the mentee's personal and professional capabilities expand and relationship deepens.
  • Relationship: The mentee is a colleague. Both mentor and mentee continue to benefit from the relationship and emotional bond are strengthened. More frequent interaction opportunities occur during this stage.