Mentoring Partnership Mess Ups – A Mentee’s Perspective

by | 24 Jan 2024

You’ve found yourself a mentor or been matched with one as part of a mentoring program. Your excitement levels are high and you can’t believe you have access to this person – someone you have admired for some time. You know about the value of mentoring and you are keen to get started. First session goes well and you share with others how lucky you are. A few sessions in and the situation is different. You wonder what to talk about in the next session, you don’t feel like you are vibing and you miss scheduling your next session. Here’s my take on what’s ‘going on and more importantly what you can do about it right now.

Reflection is key here. It’s important to recognise when things aren’t going to plan and then take time to back yourself and find a solution that works for you. This way you can achieve what you want and need from your mentoring sessions. It’s also important to take care of yourself and your mentor through the process. Your mentor is committed to doing their best for you, make it easy for them.  

Revisit Your Vision

Issue / BarrierWhat can you do?
You’re not sure what you want help with. You’ve done your introduction sessions where you shared who you are and what you do and you’re wondering what’s next. You’ve lost a sense of forward direction.You found or were matched with a mentor in a mentoring program for a reason. Go back and find that reason. What did you want to achieve? Think back to your very first session with your mentor and what you were most excited about. Take this topic and excitement into your next mentoring session.

Do the Work

Issue / BarrierWhat can you do?
You’re having great chats with your mentor and listen to their stories of how they achieve success, move along the career ladder etc. After the session you tell people about your mentoring session and then return to your day / work and don’t put anything into action. You’re worried you’re not progressing.Getting caught up in a have a chat mentoring session is very common. The solution is really simple. After each session or even during each session reflect and jog down some actions that you can take to move your work / job along. Listen + reflection = action.

Ask for Help

Issue / BarrierWhat can you do?
You get yourself into an internal storm! You know you are lucky to have such a great mentor but you’re just not vibing. You think to yourself you should be grateful for this experience and start to think there’s something wrong – either with you or your mentor. You wonder if the match was as good as you first thought!Be honest with yourself. Sometimes how you think something is going to go and work out isn’t what happens at all. And then reach out to a trusted friend / colleague or the coordinator of your program. Ask about and discuss how you an lead yourself and the mentoring sessions to get back on track.

Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

Issue / BarrierWhat can you do?
You finish one session and then wonder what your next session will focus on. Your mentoring sessions are like ones offs with no connection between them.   Go back to your vision, the reason you wanted a mentor in the first place. Jot down some themes and then some questions under each theme. Break these up into mentoring sessions. Start each session by sharing what you’ve achieved since your last one and what theme you’d like to focus on in this session.

Floundering to Flow

Issue / BarrierWhat can you do?
You start your mentoring session and check in with how your mentor is going. You’re not sure what to do next. You know you need to lead the session but you flounder and can’t find the way forward. You let your mentor lead and you find yourself answering the questions they ask. You know you should be leading and guiding the session.The flow of your session really depends on your planning of the theme and questions before each session. Then you can create a timeline. Here’s an example. 5 mins meet and greet. 5 mins review of what you’ve done since last session. 5 mins on introducing them and why it’s important. 15 mins on questions you have prepared. 10 mins on working out actions to move forward. 5 mins to review and close session.

Over to You

Ok, go right ahead now and choose which issue / barrier resonates most. Take time to read about what you can do and take the action described. Give yourself a pep up and feel great about working through the issue / barrier. Go into your next mentoring session with increased confidence and commitment to leading the session differently to achieve the best you can. Good luck. And please feel free to reach out to me here if you think I can help in any way.

Until next time!

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About the Author

Jo Eady

Jo Eady

I’m a leadership specialist, a human centred facilitator and a modern day storyteller. I live in Victoria, Australia. For the past two decades I’ve developed and facilitated a range of leadership initiatives, strategies and programs and have coached many across Australia’s agricultural and rural sectors. I love being a change agent and my key motto right now is courage over comfort. I support others to develop their own leadership essence and shine from the inside out.