Documents for both Mentees and Mentors
Goal-Setting: The Mentee’s Role
The goal-setting process should be driven by the mentee. In setting your goals with your mentor you will first be asked to examine areas in which you’d like to grow. You’ll also be asked to examine the challenges and opportunities you’ve already faced in achieving your goals.
This will not only help you discover new goals and gain clarity on ways to achieve your current goals, it will also help your mentor better understand your experience and the way that you strategize. Your goals can be personal or professional, specific or broad, technical or interpersonal—just make sure that when you discuss them with your mentor you:
- ensure your goal is a professional area in which your mentor is comfortable providing guidance
- describe your goals as specifically as possible
- discuss some of the steps the two of you can take to help you progress toward your goals
- agree on a metric to measure your goals, and to check in regularly on your progress
Goal-Setting: The Mentor’s Role
The goal-setting process should be driven by the mentee. However, mentors have a large role to play in this process as well. When discussing the goals of the mentee, mentors should assist by:
- ensuring the goals are: a) realistic and personal; b) achievable
- helping the mentee: a) turn short-term goals into long-term goals; b) develop a step-by-step plan
- providing support by: a) celebrating achievements; b) reframing setbacks as opportunities for growth
Basic Expectation-Setting Questions
How do you prefer to meet? Face-to-face? Phone? Video chat? Email? Text?
This question can be one of the most important to ask, and many people overlook it. If you don’t agree on how you want to communicate, the relationship itself could be in trouble from the start. Reaching agreement on how you will communicate will go a long way toward ensuring the success of your relationship.
Remember that one requirement of the OMA MentorMatch program is that matches have at least two contacts per month. One must be a live conversation (phone call, video call, in person) and the other may be in writing (text, email, etc.) or live. Discuss your preferences for each of these.
How can we hold one another accountable?
This is a great question for both mentor and mentee. It helps you both think about the relationship and how you want to show up or be present for one another. This will also reinforce a partnership in which equality is paramount. If one of you is not holding up your end of the bargain, the other needs to know they can and should hold you accountable.
Are there any areas you need to be off-limits?
This discussion can help mentees assess whether the topics on which they need guidance overlap with areas the mentor wishes to keep off-limits. Alternately, the mentor might wish to offer advice on a topic the mentee isn’t seeking. It’s better to note these boundaries as the relationship begins.
Once you’ve established these basics, try getting into more detail about your expectations for the relationship. Be as specific as possible.
- Either party is presenting at a big conference. Should they invite their mentor/mentee to attend? Should they expect them to attend?
- The mentee is working on a big paper, research study, resume, etc. Can the mentee ask their mentor to read or edit it?
- The mentee is experience a major crossroads or issue in their professional life. Can they call their mentor to talk about it, or should they wait until their next scheduled meeting?
- The mentee is experiencing a personal issue. Can they call their mentor?
Mentorships and friendships are not the same, but they can look very similar. It’s important to outline the boundaries of the mentor-mentee relationship so that it does not veer into territory that that causes discomfort. Establish what responsibilities each of you is comfortable taking on.