To make the most of your mentor’s experience and expertise, it’s essential that you create a roadmap for your sessions. We’ve put together ten effective mentoring topics below that can make your discussions engaging and fruitful as you develop your career.
Because there’s no “one size fits all” for mentorship, it’s important to select mentoring topics specific to your interests and needs. Getting the right mentor-mentee match also plays a big part. On MentorCruise, you can connect with your ideal mentor and get hands-on support.
Why Mentorship Is Important
Employees are always looking for career paths that will help them expand their network and develop their skills. They’re also looking to work for a company that genuinely cares about employee satisfaction.
That’s where mentorship comes in. It is an effective way to make work a rewarding experience. A key mentoring goal is helping people find more fulfillment in their career paths and jobs.
Mentorship is great for both professional and personal development. For example, if you’re looking to start a new career in data science or want a way to ensure career growth in your industry, a mentor can provide guidance. That’s why nine out of 10 workers with mentors experience higher levels of job satisfaction.
However, the story is different for employees without mentors. A study revealed that more than four in every ten workers without mentors consider quitting their jobs. Therefore, the benefits of mentoring cannot be overemphasized.
Below is why mentoring is important to organizational and personal development.
- It improves diversity and inclusivity in the company culture.
- A leadership mentor supports the development of leadership skills among employees.
- A mentor trains employees to develop career and hard skills.
- Mentoring increases employee retention
- It ensures career growth for workers.
- A mentorship program improves employee satisfaction in an organization.
- It enhances employee engagement.
With different topics for coaching and mentoring, a mentor can take your career to a new level. A recent study of employees over a 5-year range showed that 28% of mentors and 25% of mentees received a raise compared to only 5% of managers without a mentor.
Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Mentoring Topics?
While a mentee’s needs can be varied, choosing the right mentoring themes can provide a way to start a fruitful discussion between mentors and mentees. In particular, delving into the right mentoring topics and asking the right questions can allow:
- The mentee to understand how to communicate their needs more effectively
- The mentorship session to run smoothly and effectively by minimizing instances of awkward silence
- The mentor to identify issues the mentee may have missed
- The mentor and mentee to get to know each other
- Key points to be tackled during mentorship sessions
- Mentors to probe deeper into certain problem areas
Best Practices for Successful Mentorship Sessions
No matter what topics you discuss with your mentor, it’s important to follow best practices for your sessions.
Mentorship is often your first foray into the “real world,” and you should stick to the expectations of your industry. Here are some best practices to keep your relationship positive and professional:
- Define your goals before every meeting.
- Create an ongoing list of questions and mentoring topics to delve into.
- Set expectations early in the relationship.
- Ensure a balance of mentor-mentee sharing (i.e., both listen and share).
- Don’t be shy, but leave your ego behind.
- Take responsibility for your career development – don’t expect your mentor to do it for you!
- Maintain confidentiality, especially regarding sensitive or personal topics.
- Followup-too schedule the next meeting for consistent mentorship.
- Evaluate whether the relationship is working (or not).
These quick tips will ensure that you’re building a strong relationship worth your time and your mentor’s.
Key Mentoring Topics to Dive Deep Into Your Career Needs
Discussion topics may vary widely depending on your dream job and your current career stage. However, these key mentoring subjects can lead to deeper discussions, regardless of your specific situation. You can even tailor these topics or skip any that may not apply.
Your ideal mentor is waiting for you on MentorCruise. Get started with a call to outline a study plan, prep for an interview, or discuss any topic of your choosing.
1. Developing a Career Path
Your mentor’s expertise can lead to practical career results. Take a full session to talk about how to best develop your career.
You can ask your mentor about recommendations for your trajectory, including the next steps. It’s also valuable to talk about your mentor’s experience with career-building and any key takeaways.
Networking is an often dreaded part of career-building. Yet, creating a network and strengthening professional relationships is important for finding new connections, sparking ideas, and exchanging career know-how.
You should regularly network to leverage your professional contacts, whether through virtual training, online forums, industry events, professional associations, or even 1-to-1 coffee dates.
Your mentor can help identify areas for you to pursue industry networking and tips for improving your networking skills. Together you might role-play networking with new connections or talk about how to foster genuine relationships.
3. Interviewing Skills
The leap from interview to job offer can be high. Luckily, you can refresh and rehearse your interviewing skills with the help of a mentor.
Perhaps you get nervous under pressure, or you’re unsure how to respond to certain questions. Focus on interviewing skills in your mentorship sessions can help you ace your next job opportunity.
For technical interviews or skills-based tests, prep work can be even more intensive. Lean on your mentor’s expertise to do practice interviews and tests, so you feel more confident about applying your technical abilities.
Your mentor may also have useful tips for dealing with questions that you don’t know. Practicing how to handle curveballs can improve your communication skills and ease your nerves.
4. Collaborating, Communication, and Soft Skills
Soft skills are more important than you may think. Together with your mentor, you can identify areas of improvement for your softs skills and work together to build them up.
In today’s workplace, communication and collaboration are two of the most sought-after skills. Both center around emotional intelligence, which allows you to receive constructive feedback, resolve conflicts fairly and respect others’ opinions and contributions.
Your mentor may suggest discussing common workplace conflicts or role-playing what you would do in tricky scenarios. This is also your chance to bring up real-life situations you’ve faced or are currently dealing with at work.
5. Negotiating Salaries
Nobody likes talking about money. However, at some point, you’ll need to negotiate your salary with your employer.
Navigating salary negotiations is a matter of experience. Spend a mentorship session talking about how to determine appropriate salary ranges, analyze compensation packages, and handle negotiations when HR gets pushy.
Your mentor can help you understand what to expect during this process and how to get a higher offer without stepping on anybody’s toes.
6. Becoming Entrepreneurial
Developing an entrepreneurial spirit can really help your career take off. Work with your mentor about how to cultivate entrepreneurial habits.
For example, your mentor may recommend certain publications to stay up-to-date on the industry, or suggest ways to boost your sense of innovation at work. You may also think about how to ask your boss for time and resources to complete a special project.
Setting goals for innovation and risk-taking can be useful for creating new work opportunities. Your mentor can highlight ways to follow your instincts and talents.
7. Building Skills and Leadership Qualities
Building a career involves taking small steps towards your long-term goals. You can get insights from your mentor about your ideal action plan for learning new skills and improving your leadership qualities.
Goal-setting is an excellent activity for any mentorship session, as it puts your career needs in the spotlight. The best action plans will analyze your strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve them.
Skills training with your mentor could involve discussing your short- and long-term goals, creating resource lists, and improving them in sessions through personalized activities.
8. Gleaning Personal Insights From Mentor Experience
Everybody’s journey is unique. You can learn a lot by discussing your mentor’s own experiences.
Do a little research and come up with questions about your mentor’s career trajectory. For example, you may be interested in examples of how your mentor faced adversity or fostered innovation outside of working hours.
By discussing your mentor’s experience, you’ll get insights about your own career path or better define your personal priorities at work. Sharing stories can lead you to unexpected takeaways, too.
9. Problem-Solving Current Career Situations
Your current job is the perfect starting point for practical career advice.
Identify some workplace issues you’re dealing with and present them to your mentor. Together, you can discuss these challenges, conflicts, and ethical dilemmas to help you define potential solutions.
This is also a chance to get into less urgent career situations. For example, you may be interested in developing more initiative at work or striking a better work-life balance. Make a note of any or all of these issues and bring them to your next mentorship session.
10. Harnessing Feedback for Improvement
Feedback is the heart of improvement. You can take your skills to the next level by setting up key milestones with your mentor.
By getting feedback on these assignments, you’ll be able to track your progress. You’ll also take advantage of your mentor’s expertise in the field and get real constructive criticism from an industry leader.
In turn, receiving and applying feedback can inspire self-improvement now and as your career continues to develop. Find sample mentor-mentee sample questions here.
How To Ask Your Mentor the Right Questions
After coming up with mentoring ideas and a mentoring topic, most mentees do not know how to ask the right questions or phrase them. Yet, questions are crucial in creating mentoring moments that you can revert to at different career points. Below are some tips for asking your mentor the right questions.
1. Ask Clear Questions
After deciding on a mentoring subject, ask clear and specific questions relevant to your mentor’s expertise. When you chose to join a mentorship program, you did so because you needed guidance to solve certain issues in your career.
An example is seeking a leader to develop your leadership skills. Therefore, when you get to a mentoring topic like public speaking, and it’s a top issue for you, you need to ask specific questions to help you understand better.
Do not ask vague questions, as you won’t get a precise answer. Instead, focus on specific inquiries that address your main issues and help you get solutions.
2. Ask Questions on Key Mentoring Topics
Knowing the right questions to ask your career mentor can be quite difficult. One way to get through this challenge is to ask common questions about key mentoring ideas. These questions can help you understand your mentor better while kickstarting a great conversation.
Ask for advice on how you can develop a skill or tactics to help you deal with an obstacle. Note that self-improvement and career development questions can help create good topics for mentoring sessions.
You can also ask your mentor for stories about specific times in their career. This question will give you insight into your mentor’s life while allowing them to open up to you.
Situational questions are also a good idea. If you have a situation at work that you require guidance on, you can share it with your mentor asking what to do or for further clarifications.
For example, if your employer inquires about your 10 key experience, you can ask your mentor ‘what is 10 key experience’ to gain insight. Situational questions fall witing this topic head, so discuss them with your mentor.
Your mentor can also answer questions on career development and a career path if you’re still searching for the right profession for you. Note that questions for your mentor can fit into any category you’re curious about.
3. Minimize Small Talk
Another tip to help you ask the right question that fits into the mentoring theme is to avoid small talk. Mentees often try to force a conversation to avoid the awkwardness of the first sessions.
This is normal, and you will need time to learn how to interact with one another. If you’re clueless about what to ask, ask starter questions about the mentoring topics shared in this article. Again, ensure you ask specific questions.
Most times, these questions help to improve the quality of your conversations with your mentor while also building the mentoring bond. With MentorCruise, you have a 7-day trial to determine if the mentor has the mentoring skills you’re looking for.
4. Always Prepare Before a Mentoring Session
When learning a new mentoring topic, the worst thing you can do is come unprepared. The mentoring experience is designed to help you improve professionally and personally. Therefore, if you’re not looking to achieve your goals, you shouldn’t continue the mentorship sessions.
Your mentor invests time and energy into teaching these mentoring subjects. Therefore, coming unprepared implies you don’t want the mentorship to work. Additionally, there’s no way for your mentor to measure your progress.
How To Measure a Mentee’s Progress in Mentorship Programs
Most mentees enter into a mentorship program with specific goals, and the various mentoring topics are designed to help them achieve this. The best method for measuring the effectiveness of a mentorship program is to track the mentee’s progress towards this goal. You can do this with an individual development plan or personal development plan.
Mentors create this plan at the beginning of the mentoring relationship. The strategy should list the goals of the program and the actions needed to achieve them. Adding timelines and the necessary support is also a great option.
Although the execution of this plan is on the mentee, the mentor helps to guide the mentee with key mentoring ideas. The mentor also holds the mentee accountable throughout the mentoring program.
Another way to measure the progress of a mentorship program in a mentee is through feedback from their peers, customers, supervisors, and other people related to them. Feedback from different parties can help understand the program’s effectiveness after its completion.
How To Measure the Progress of Mentorship Programs in an Organization
You can measure the progress of a mentorship program in an organization through different outcomes. This includes the:
- Retention level
- Performance rating
- Engagement score
- Promotion rate
- Productivity, etc.
For example, if the program focuses on helping employees develop certain skills, then some outcomes to measure the program include business performance metrics, productivity scores, and performance ratings.
However, if the mentoring is inclusivity and diversity, then some organizational outcome to help you determine the mentorship program includes career progression, engagement rate, and retention level. To make the progress report meaningful, it’s crucial to compare the outcome for employees who completed the program and those who did not participate.
Build a Strong Mentor-Mentee Relationship on MentorCruise
Use your mentor’s time wisely by bringing up these top 10 mentoring topics. You’ll spark great discussions and build a stronger mentor-mentee relationship by planning your sessions. Bonus: you can get even more ideas for discussion topics with these 22 mentorship questions.
Start taking advantage of the benefits of mentorship by getting paired with an expert on MentorCruise. You’ll get matched with your ideal mentor, so you can get hands-on support and start discussing these topics – and more.