How to Structure a Productive Mentoring Meeting

The Before, During and After of a Productive and Successful Mentoring Meeting

A Mentoring Meeting« Back to Articles

Within any mentoring relationship, the primary purpose is to help the mentee progress and grow, both personally and professionally. A mentoring meeting or session can be described as a mentor and mentee coming collectively to share expertise, knowledge and solve problems. Whilst a mentoring meeting is generally expected to be driven by the mentee, both parties must have a clear perception of what to expect from the meetings and the relationship in general. Each mentoring relationship is unique, with some relationships having meetings every week whereas others conduct them every month. It’s easy for both parties to become sidetracked when there isn’t a transparent structure in place, often having conversations about several issues, sharing their experiences and engaging in general discussion. However, the purpose of mentoring is to see progress, having a structure provides the mentee and mentor the opportunity to follow up on actions whilst keeping the conversation clear and concentrated on the objectives set. Listed below are is what needs to happen before, after and during your mentoring meeting:

Before the Meeting

For a mentoring relationship to be prosperous and productive, both the mentee and mentor need to have a shared and distinct understanding of what they both want to achieve from the relationship and their expectations. It’s significant that at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, both parties prepare in advance, taking the time to research each other's professional backgrounds. This will allow both the mentor and mentee to gain insight into the others abilities, expertise and knowledge. For the first session, it would be advised that the mentee emails the mentor, attaching their CV and a short paragraph explaining their background history. Before the meeting, a mentee needs to truly think about the goals they wish to achieve, the challenges they face and the topics they wish to discuss with their mentor. The mentee needs to prepare the meeting agenda in advance, communicating with their mentor and asking if there are any topics they think would be suitable to address.

During the Mentoring Meeting

Informal conversation: Whilst the primary goal of mentoring relationships is to be productive and help the mentee achieve their goals and objectives, mentoring is all about forming human connections and developing a relationship. Before getting into the main topics previously discussed over email, both parties should have a short informal catch-up, getting to know more about one another on a personal level. For honest conversations to be had, trust needs to be formed. Informational conversations allow this, whilst making participants feel more comfortable and willing to open up about the difficulties they face.

Talk about the previous session: This step can be skipped if this is the first mentoring meeting. However, after engaging in a friendly discussion it is advised that the mentor and mentee take the time to discuss the previous meeting, with the mentor reviewing any tasks set for the mentee, giving constructive and valuable feedback. It's a good idea that both parties also take the time to discuss the progress they have made since the last meeting, reviewing the actions they took to achieve their objectives. For example, if the mentee set the goal of completing a new learning course, the mentor should ask the mentee to review this task and understand more about the process.

Stick to a focus: As suggested, before any mentoring meeting, preparation should be done by the mentee and mentor in regards to the topic that will be discussed during the meeting. However, after reviewing and discussing the accomplishments and challenges faced by the mentee during the time both parties last spoke, topics may need to change. The mentor and mentee must work together to finalise the most suitable topic of the meeting.

Planning: Once the primary topic has been finalised and challenges have been reviewed, it's important to start planning and exploring ways to help the mentee overcome these hurdles, finding solutions to overcome the challenges and putting a clear plan in place. By having a clear plan, the mentoring meeting will be more productive and valuable for the mentor and mentee.

Prepare for the next meeting: At the end of every meeting, the mentee should create an action list that is given to the mentee, with both parties agreeing on the tasks that need to be completed for the next mentoring meeting. This action plan allows the mentee to have a clear understanding and focus on the tasks they need to complete, making the mentee accountable for their goals and learning. During this part of the meeting, the mentee and mentor should agree on a suitable time for the next mentoring meeting to take place.

After the Meeting

For the mentee, it’s a good idea to follow up within the next 24 hours, thanking the mentor for their time and going over the key learnings of the meeting and recapping the actions they plan to take before the next meeting. It’s important that the mentee also provides feedback and gives the mentor examples of what they found particularly helpful, this will further improve the mentoring process. The mentee should be committed to completing the tasks set, ensuring they follow through with commitments, as the mentor can feel discouraged if they fail to do so. Remember, a mentee needs to respect their mentees boundaries, this doesn’t mean that the mentor can't be contacted outside of meetings, but, it should be considered that the mentor may have limited time to engage outside of them. In regards to a mentor, they should try and respond to any questions the mentee has and review the feedback given to improve their mentoring practices. Mentors should also email links and resources discussed during the meeting or if they feel it could be particularly helpful for the mentee.

Final Thoughts

Mentoring relationships are extremely beneficial for both parties involved, although, are only successful when there is mutual understanding, respect and honest communication. When it comes to mentoring, having a structure in place on how to manage mentoring meetings is vital for both the mentor and mentee. Having a structure in place will create a productive mentoring session, guaranteeing the mentee gets the most out of the relationship and can defeat any problems faced, whilst meeting their own professional and personal goals. If you’re looking to find a mentor, be mentored, or both, you can visit PushFar the world's leading mentoring and career progression platform and sign up for free today.
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