Over 2,000 mentors available, including leaders at Google, Amazon, Netflix, and more. Check it out

(2022) Start, Build & Establish a Great Mentor-Mentee Relationship: A No-BS Guide

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.

At MentorCruise, a mentorship platform, we’ve witnessed many mentorships flourish thanks to outstanding bonds between mentors and mentees. But this relationship needs to be nurtured to be effective. In this article, we share practical insights from our community on how to start a mentor-mentee relationship. You’ll learn:

  • What is a mentor-mentee relationship?
  • What are the responsibilities of a mentor?
  • What are the responsibilities of a mentee?
  • The GROW model of building successful mentor-mentee relationships
  • Elements of a successful mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Stages of every mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Tips for building a tremendous mentee-mentor relationship.
  • Benefits of mentoring.

Let’s go ahead and get started!

What is a mentor-mentee relationship?

A mentor-mentee relationship is a professional and interpersonal relationship between a mentor and a protege aiming to offer advice, guidance, and new skills. It basically reduces the learning curve a mentee has to undergo while holding them accountable for their progress.

A mentor is more of a guide than a coach, that helps the mentee achieve personal and professional goals by realizing their potential. Mentors offer advice from experience or knowledge, working as a support structure to bring out the best in people and work their way to success.

Every mentor-mentee relationship is different as each individual has their own perspectives and unique circumstances. The role of a mentor is to actively listen to the mentee’s needs and give them the time and space to explore their own solutions.

Benefits of Mentorship

Regardless of your enterprise, mentoring is a unique relationship promoting the transfer of skills and knowledge between two people, grounded in a commitment to shared goals and based on mutual trust and respect. Both the mentee and the mentor can learn and grow from this relationship. The recipient gains valuable knowledge/insight, and the mentor revisits critical industry skill sets while acquiring better communication and leadership skills.

However, the benefits of mentor-mentee relationships are almost countless. A few includes;

  • Getting help in attaining career goals
  • Direction for executing business decisions
  • Career and skill development
  • Moral and ethical guidance
  • Expert identity advancement guidance

Mentor and mentee relationships are valuable ways to pass on knowledge within the business world. Cultivating these relationships means that professionals gain the opportunity to grow and personalized guidance in their careers.

What are the responsibilities of a mentor?

A mentor should be an expert with hands-on experience in a specific field that can advise and guide the mentee to reach their full potential. A good mentor should:

  • Act as a role model. By definition, a mentor should be someone to look up to, someone admirable for their achievements and expertise. However, their recognition comes with great responsibility, as mentees expect them to set their development standards. Therefore, when looking for the right mentor, make sure their actions are tightened with their words and that they take their responsibility seriously.
  • Help mentees reach specific goals. The whole purpose of a mentorship relationship is goal-setting. Mentors are charged to create a time frame and a specific action plan to aid their proteges in achieving their dreams. So, finding a goal-driven mentor is a must for success.
  • Use coaching techniques. Although a mentor is more of a guide than a coach, a good mentor knows when to employ coaching techniques to encourage mentees to discover their own solutions. Combining advice with actual action-driven encouragement is a valuable trait for a good mentor.
  • Provide feedback. What makes a good mentor-mentee relationship? Feedback! No professional relationship can flourish without constructive feedback to help parties grow within the goal frames. Experience is important when looking for a mentor so that they know when and how to offer their feedback for growth and development.
  • Push the mentee. A mentee hires a mentor to help them overcome a challenge and achieve career goals. The role of a mentor is sometimes being the devil’s advocate pushing the mentee to consider multiple factors and trust their thinking.
  • Follow-up. Success requires consistency. It’s a mentor’s responsibility to frequently follow up with their mentees, be a part of their journey, and hold them accountable for their progress.

What are the responsibilities of a mentee?

You might wonder: How does a mentor-mentee relationship work? Well, for sure, it doesn’t work only from one part. A mentee doesn’t just handle the wheel to the mentor expecting miracles. Instead, they have equal responsibility of staying active, following a success framework, and committing to the tasks at hand.

Embarking on a mentoring relationship means kicking off a transformation period of your life, where, with the proper guidance and action, you can make your dreams come true. Here are the roles and responsibilities of a mentee:

  • Be coachable. Be open to receiving help and guidance. Be willing to let someone take the lead over your professional life to guide you into new paths. Finally, be committed to your own personal development and professional growth.
  • Specify your mentorship goals. You might not know precisely what your professional goals are - after all, that’s what mentorship is all about. However, what you must know is what you expect from your mentorship relationship. Clearing out your expectations and objectives will help the mentor know if they’re the right fit for you and how to approach you.
  • Be an active listener. Before speaking, listen. Absorb everything your mentor has to say and take notes of the important parts. Don’t interrupt continuously, instead gather your questions for the end of the session. Then, ask away to gain more clarity.
  • Take action. Words are great, but actions lead to outcomes. Don’t just sit around waiting for things to fall on your lap; you have the guidance and motivation, now put in the effort and hard work to achieve your goals. Mentorship is one side of the coin that’s aimed to prepare you on what to expect and which direction to take. Action is the other side, and it’s crucial.
  • Ask for feedback. All great mentors offer feedback. However, if you need more, don’t hesitate to ask! Feedback is a great way to evaluate your efforts and results by reflecting on your course of action. However, don’t take feedback personally and try getting defensive. Remember, mentors are your allies. They thrive when you do.
  • Respect the mentor’s time. Mentors have other mentees as well, and their time is limited. Don’t change last minute plans or demand unceasing communication. Respect meeting times and your mentor’s heavy workflow.
  • Move on when mentoring is over. The mentor vs. mentee relationship will end at some point. It’s essential that you get the most out of your mentorship so that you can now maintain a course of action without over-relying to your mentor. On the other hand, it’s good keeping in touch with them to stay motivated or ask for future guidance, as long as you can stand at your own feet.

The GROW Model.

As a leader, one essential role is to coach your mentees to do their best. This way, you’ll help them make better decisions, solve the problems holding them back, learn new skills, and otherwise advance their careers. One practical way to do so is by employing the GROW Model.

The GROW Model is simply a powerful four-step framework that helps you structure mentoring sessions. GROW is an acronym for G(oal), Current Reality, Options (or Obstacles), Will (or Way Forward), and helps define the goals for the mentor-mentee relationship.

The GROW model is like planning a trip. The first thing you’d do is sit down together and decide where you’re going (goal). You’ll then discuss where you currently are (reality) in terms of making the trip happen.

After this, you need to discuss the options and obstacles in planning the trip, like obtaining the funds, comparing hotel and flight costs, taking time off work, and so on. The last step is based on making the trip happen and establishing detailed steps to make the way forward and begin making the trip a reality.

Employ the GROW model to work with your mentees on motivation and goal setting.

  • (G)oal. Urge your mentee to analyze their goals and identify what they want to accomplish, then help them articulate these goals in a “SMART” way. Their goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, if your mentee wants to launch a business, you may want to help them detail that goal by asking them for more details on what they’ll sell, how they plan to begin marketing, when to assess their growth, etc. This prompting can reconstruct a broad, hard-to-quantify goal such as “I want to begin a business” into a good, tangible plan.
  • (R)eality. It’s essential to allocate time to discuss your mentee’s current reality. By failing to consider your mentee’s starting point, you could miss out on the information necessary to reach the desired goals. This initial step toward achieving goals will help you and your mentee create the options and barriers you’ll need to examine to begin transforming the current reality into the goal.
  • (O)ptions & (O)bstacles. At this level, you need to brainstorm. Help your mentee determine and examine all the possible options and obstacles in attaining the set goal. Since you’ve already explored the current reality of the situation, you should have a solid grip on what it will take to make the new reality happen.

During this phase of the mentorship process, it’s crucial to guide your mentee, not dictate their decisions. Let your mentee do most of the talking and do more of the listening, but you want to ensure that your mentee sees the full range of possibilities. You may ask questions like, “If these barriers were absent, how would that change things?”. “What should you stop doing to make this goal a reality?”.

Way Forward. You and your mentee should hold a pretty solid understanding of how to approach this goal - now that you’ve both examined the current reality and identified potential options and barriers.

However, for several people, just listing out the details is sufficient to drive them to make it happen, but others may need more than that. Work with your mentee to generate attainable, actionable actions to begin advancing toward their goal.

This ultimate step is perhaps the most crucial of the mentorship relationship since you’ve signed to help encourage, motivate, and support your mentee as they work toward achieving their goals.

Assisting them to stay on track is a massive part of that equation, and it’s an open-ended process you’ll have to continue to engage with throughout your relationship. Be sure to fix dates and times to check progress toward goals and revisit earlier steps necessary to refocus.

You may want to consider the following elements of a successful mentor-mentee relationship to do your checks.

Elements of a successful mentor-mentee relationship.

Research published in Academic Medicine acknowledges that successful mentoring relationships must comprise the following elements: shared respect, an exchange between parties, transparent expectations of the relationship, shared values, personal connection, a discernment of altruism, active listening.

Contrarily, failed relationships are defined by poor communication, personality differences, lack of commitment from either party, real or perceived competition between parties, conflicts of interest, mentor’s lack of experience in their role.

When a mentor and mentee cultivate a relationship, it goes through several stages.

Stages of a mentor-mentee relationship.

  • Initiation stage. Here the two individuals enter a mentor and mentee relationship.
  • Cultivation stage. At this level, the focus is on learning, development, and growth. Instances of this might involve: mentee sponsoring, giving and accepting general advice, increasing mentee’s exposure within their organization.
  • Separation stage. Here, the relationship comes to an end. Friendly separations often occur when mentees feel nothing is left to learn or desire to form their own identity outside their mentor’s context. Problematic separations happen if only one party chooses to separate. This often results in feelings of anger and betrayal. To avoid such a relationship, you may want to check out the following tips for building a tremendous mentor-mentee relationship.

7 Tips for building a tremendous mentee-mentor relationship

1. Do your research

When looking for your needs’ right mentor, 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 the essential qualities 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 your professional situation’s critical contexts and where you want to be. If not, you might end up always having to explain yourself and not have a satisfying experience in the end.

2. Create commitment loops

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

These are output-driven processes that encourage accountability and achieving goals and objectives within a specific 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.

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 straightforward as possible to prevent misunderstanding.

Simultaneously, mentors should not be afraid to steer discussions to other topics if they are valuable. Sometimes, the mentee might not 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 essential topics. Great mentor-mentee relationships are a two-way street. Remembering essential 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.

5. Be flexible with 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, the 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 personality differences. The mentor should consider the mentee’s learning style and work around it to allow the mentee to grow at 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 more challenging time trusting the mentor’s expert advice.

Establish trust early on by being honest with each other. The mentor should talk about their 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, including each other’s time and energy whenever it’s set. 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. Be positive and celebrate wins.

Applauding success is as important as measuring it. Every big or small accomplishment is a milestone that should be celebrated in the mentor-mentee relationship. Mentees look for validation from their mentors; recognizing their efforts and progress could immensely speed up their success.

When both parties express gratitude, it strengthens the mentorship and pushes everyone to put in the extra work. In addition, an overall positive attitude is the best way to establish a mentor relationship. It can boost the outcomes and create an inviting and safe environment for both mentor and mentee.

8. 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 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 their wisdom and knowledge and 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 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.

Find an expert mentor

Get the career advice you need to succeed. Find a mentor who can help you with your career goals, on the leading mentorship marketplace.