Use mentoring to improve staff performance

Developing effective mentoring relationships


The mentoring relationship will be more effective if both parties have the same expectations from the beginning. If these are not set out in mentoring guidelines, you should encourage the mentee and mentor to establish their own ground rules in their initial meeting.

Mentoring relationship: setting ground rules

Encourage the mentee to use the initial meeting to establish the attitude and behaviour expected of them, and as a way of gaining an understanding of the business.

To establish the nature of the mentoring relationship, the mentor and mentee should discuss:

  • how much time the mentor will have to spend on mentoring
  • how much interaction the mentor expects
  • how the mentee should ask for guidance
  • who the mentee should speak to if the mentor is unavailable

Regarding the work and company structure, you should encourage discussion as to:

  • what the most challenging aspects of the job are
  • whether the mentor has taken any courses they would recommend
  • what type of training the mentee will receive
  • how the mentee can expect to advance

Making the best use of the mentor

A well-organised approach to mentoring is preferable. The mentee should have a clear idea of what they want out of each meeting with their mentor, possibly using an agenda.

The mentee should:

  • keep to scheduled meetings
  • seek to resolve problems themselves, but entrust the mentor with any concerns they have
  • be prepared to accept constructive criticism
  • prepare questions in advance

The mentor should:

  • allocate sufficient, uninterrupted time where discussion can go beyond any immediate issue
  • ensure the mentee feels comfortable instigating meetings
  • listen carefully to the mentee's ideas and concerns and try to offer a new perspective
  • identify strengths and weaknesses - and recommend ways to further their development
  • assist the mentee to set goals
  • be fair when giving feedback on performance

What makes a good mentor?

  • Good communication skills - the mentor will share information with the mentee and should encourage the mentee to develop their own views and opinions.
  • Skills and experience - to develop and provide guidance to the mentee. The mentor should be able to clarify the mentee's ideas and help them plan to achieve their goals.
  • Good interpersonal skills - the mentor should help the mentee expand their network of contacts by developing networking skills.