How do you build a successful mentor-mentee relationship?

Published Sept. 22, 2020

Every successful mentorship is built upon a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Embarking on your career is tough, and being mentored can help you achieve your professional goals and objectives in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise expected.

How do you build a successful mentor-mentee relationship?

At MentorCruise, we’ve witnessed many mentorships flourish thanks to amazing bonds between mentors and mentees. But this relationship needs to be nurtured in order to be effective.

In this article, we share practical insights from our community on how to establish a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

7 Tips for building a great mentee-mentor relationship

1. Do your research

When looking for the right mentor for your needs, you need to do background research on the mentors you want to choose.

Firstly, develop specific questions about your wants, your mentor’s potential profile, what you want to achieve in this mentorship and on the essential qualities that you want in a mentor.

On MentorCruise, you can browse through mentors with different skills and experiences. If you’re looking for a mentor, you need to make sure that the mentor you’re choosing has the right expertise to help you with your specific issues.

For example, are you building a startup and facing early-stage growth pains? Then you might want to look for a startup mentor. Or if you’re tired of learning how to code on your own, you can search for the ideal technical mentor for expert guidance.

You need to make sure that the mentor understands the key contexts of your professional situation and where you want to be. If not, you might end up having to constantly explain yourself and not have a satisfying experience in the end.

2. Create commitment loops

In every action-oriented mentor-mentee relationship, there’s a series of commitment loops that help the mentee achieve relevant goals.

These are output-driven processes that encourage accountability and achieving goals and objectives within a certain timeframe. Commitment loops encourage the mentee to build upon their achievements for even bigger goals.

To make your commitment loops more robust, include the following within your mentoring sessions:

  • Define expectations, objectives and goals.
  • Set clear meeting agendas.
  • Set deadlines for objectives.
  • Create an appropriate timeframe to tackle the objectives.
  • Set weekly sub-goals and activities.

Mentor-mentee relationships thrive when things are clearly defined. These commitment loops help clarify the level of discipline that the mentee needs to achieve their goals and objectives.

If you need a mentorship platform specifically tailored to take advantage of these loops, MentorCruise’s dashboard encourages effective communication and goal-setting for mentees and mentors.

mentor-mentee relationship

3. Base mentorship around solving specific issues

Your mentor won’t be able to help you tackle every single pressing issue that you have about your professional life.

For a fulfilling mentor-mentee relationship, both parties should clarify the context and timeline of this relationship. The mentee should have realistic expectations about what can be done through mentorship. At the same time, the mentor should be forthright about their expertise.

Mentor-mentee relationships work well when they have been formed to solve specific problems. Mentees need to make their questions as specific and clear as possible to prevent misunderstanding.

At the same time, mentors should not also be afraid to steer discussions to other topics if they are valuable. Sometimes, the mentee might not be able to clearly describe what they want to achieve, so they need a nudge in the right direction.

4. Communicate honestly, clearly and thoroughly

Regarding the importance of clear communication, here’s a quote from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:

“Communication starts with the understanding that there is my point of view (my truth) and someone else’s point of view (his truth). Rarely is there one absolute truth.”

Great mentor-mentee relationships are predicated on truth, trust and honesty. In terms of communication, both the mentor and mentee must realize and respect each other’s differences in perspectives and truths.

Here are some ways to encourage healthy communication between mentor and mentee:

  • Agree on which medium to communicate. MentorCruise has a 1-on-1 mentor-mentee private chat and allows you to organize video calls for effective communication.
  • Give appropriate feedback to the mentee about their successes and setbacks. This shows that the mentor is attentive to the mentee’s progress.
  • Circle back on important topics. Great mentor-mentee relationships are a two-way street. Remembering important details from your conversations displays a mutual commitment to this mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Actively listen to each other. Ask questions. Comment about what each other has said. Great communication relies on engagement between mentor and mentee.

mentor communication

5. Be flexible to different personalities and learning styles

In mentor-mentee relationships and interactions, there are often non-verbal cues and habits that both mentor and mentee must catch on to understand each other better.

For example, mentee might be a stickler to routines, or the mentor might have a unique way of explaining things.

Either way, the mentor and mentee need to understand that they may have differences in personality. The mentor should take into consideration the mentee’s learning style and work around it to allow the mentee to grow within their own pace.

6. Have respect for each other

Respect is the cornerstone of every great mentor-mentee relationship. This allows clear and transparent interactions between both parties. When it isn’t in the equation, the mentee will have a harder time trusting the mentor’s expert advice.

Establish trust early on by being honest with each other. The mentor should be able to talk about their own setbacks to the mentee to show vulnerability and gain their trust. This encourages the mentee to open up about their issues in an authentic way.

Mentors and mentees should also have similar values and principles. Working in different moral frameworks is fundamentally a point of friction that can break trust and respect.

Both mentor and mentee need to have respect for each other as individuals. Both should respect professional boundaries, whenever it’s set, including on each other’s time and energy. When the mentee is experiencing a roadblock, the mentor should respect the mentee’s progress and trust that they will surmount this issue with appropriate help.

7. A great mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street

Harvard Business Review claims that “older people who mentor and support younger people in work and in life are three times as likely to be happy as those who fail to engage in this way”.

Many people mistakenly assume that mentorship can only benefit the mentee. But the mentee can provide a fresh and valuable perspective on how a different group of people or a different generation sees the world.

Mentors can pass on to another generation not only their wisdom and knowledge but also their values and beliefs.

As we’ve witnessed on MentorCruise, different types of mentorships can make whole teams more efficient, improve collaboration, and even uplift disenfranchised voices.

Start a fulfilling mentorship experience with MentorCruise today

At MentorCruise, we’re obsessed with great mentor-mentee relationships. Mentees need supportive mentors in order to succeed. All of our most successful mentorships on the platform have been the result of great mentor-mentee relationships.

Want to get a mentor who’s right for you? Sign up for free now.