4 components of successful mentor-mentee relationships

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Mentorship has been known to be a valuable personal and professional development practice for years. A five-year study shows that mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors. Moreover, 25% of employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary-grade increase compared to only five percent of workers who did not participate (Gartner study, 2006).

A UK study on the other hand, found that mentoring has an equally profound benefit. Mentors themselves are six times more likely to be promoted. They also become more empathetic leaders as mentoring develops their ability to listen deeply instead of quickly offering solutions. The same research concluded that overall, 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence.

If you’re looking to be a mentor or mentee, here are the four essential elements you should work on to reap the most out of this essential partnership:

4 components of a successful mentor-mentee relationship:

  1. Mutual respect

    Mutual respect is the foundation of any successful relationship. It starts with an acknowledgement of each other’s worth and manifests through professionalism. With respect as foundation, fulfilling commitments, honouring each other’s time, practicing active listening, and maintaining confidentiality come naturally. Each party works to continuously nurture trust and build rapport as the relationship grows.

    Moreover, mentees who respect their mentors are more likely to work harder because they don’t want to let their mentors down. The mentor, on the other hand, acts as the mentee’s number one advocate because they trust in their mentee’s capabilities.

  2. Clear communication

    Both mentor and mentee should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and expectations. They should also define timelines and expected outcomes at the beginning of the relationship. These should be verbalized and documented.

    To establish clear and consistent communication, an environment of openness should be fostered. They should be free to speak their minds, ask questions, object if it’s warranted, and share ideas. Both should be able to provide constructive criticism in an honest and open manner.

    Knowing the right channels to use to reach each other can make consistent communication possible. Aside from regular meetings, can you use text, email, or calls to confirm directions or ask questions? Each one should know the preferred channel of communication for quick updates or even for emergencies.

    The secret to giving great feedback, The Way We Work, TED series

  3. Commitment

    Both mentor and mentee should be passionate about the goals they set and are fully committed to achieving them. A good indication of this is when they are prepared for each meeting. Being prepared allows each party to be actively engaged, which makes each session productive. They also evaluate progress. They check which goals seem harder to attain and think of new strategies. They also look at their successes and celebrate their wins.

  4. Caring personal relationship

    Mentoring relationships that are purely professional also work, but wouldn’t you like a mentor who supports your personal growth not just your career? A more personal connection is built when there is genuine concern for each other. Mentoring relationships that have this important element are more successful and are often for keeps.

Sources: What makes a mentoring relationship successful? Future leaders of Yale; and How to build a successful mentor relationship, Matthew Reeves, Together. Accessed May 3, 2022.

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English Online’s e-Volunteer Program has two streams: Volunteer EAL e-Tutor and Settlement e-Coach. This is a one-on-one learning/teaching arrangement where the learner gets 10 hours (up to a maximum of 20 hours) of sessions within a span of 12 weeks. Please send an email to pelalfy@myenglishonline.ca if you’re interested in mentoring or receiving mentorship.

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