Avoiding Pitfalls in Mentoring Relationships Part III of III

By: Misti Burmeister

“One of things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people.”
-Dick Gregory

In the March newsletter, I shared my story regarding my experience with a mentoring program through ABC Organization. In the April newsletter, I shared the first four tips for creating solid mentoring programs. The following is a continuation of that newsletter and the final part of this series. If you would like to first read Parts I and II, please visit www.inspirioninc.com/blog/index.php

The follow are the final four tips to consider when creating a mentoring program:

Tip Six: Support for Mentors

Many times, mentors come across situations with their mentee that they do not know how to address. Having a professional coach available to mentors for support is enormously helpful and assists mentors to feel supported in the mentoring process.

Tip Seven: Training for Mentees

Mentees must get training on how to be mentored and how to offer reverse (cross generational) mentoring.As with their mentors, mentees can make assumptions about what it means to participate in a mentoring program and what they can expect. Some mentees might think their mentor is supposed to help them get a promotion or tell them exactly what to do. Many will not even know what questions to ask or how to ask the questions. Providing your mentees with training on how to best utilize their mentor, will remove the guesswork and help them get the most out of the program.

Tip Eight: Create a Solid and Specific Program

When people understand what to expect, they are more likely to get involved. Simply saying “sign up to be a mentor” without saying what it means to be a mentor, will leave people feeling confused and less apt to get involved. On the flip side, when you set out a specific program indicating exactly what both the mentor and mentee can expect, they will know what they are opting into. To get started, I recommend a program like the following:

  • Mentors and mentees can expect to meet as a group four times per year on ___ dates for ___ time. Two of these meetings are half day trainings (how to be a mentor/how to be a mentee)
  • Mentors and mentees are expected to meet for one-hour every month for one year
    – Topics to cover in one-on-one mentoring
    * Career planning
    * Challenges that mentees may be encountering
    * Individuals who may be useful business connections
    * Strategies for gaining exposure/experience
  • The mentor program will end on X date with a final award/recognition program.

You can view an example of a mentor program at www.inspirioninc.com/mentorprograms

Tip Nine: Appropriate Pairing

While the mentee’s direct supervisor can provide guidance and certainly some mentoring, it is important that the mentor for this program not be the mentee¡¦s direct supervisor. Instead, the mentor needs to be in a higher position than the mentee and in a different chain of command, when possible. The mentor needs to be in a position to provide ideas/suggestions, make introductions and provide support for the mentee. There is a great deal more freedom to share frustrations and gain important feedback when the mentor is not in a direct management position.

Tip Ten: Have Fun!

Mentor/mentee relationships can extend beyond work/career conversations. You might consider planning other relationship building activities such as lunch, golf, shopping, or whatever fits well with both of your interests. The intention is to create an atmosphere where the mentors and mentees can deepen their relationship outside the framework of career or work. People help people they like and a great way to build strong bonds between people is to create a space for them to get to know each other in a fun way.

Read more on Mentorship Programs in Misti’s new book, From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, available March 7, 2008 on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

Offered With Respect,





Misti Burmeister, Founder/CEO, Inspirion Inc