This short guide gives an overview of mentoring and your responsibilities to make sure you give and get the best from the partnership.
We recommend you start by completing our free Mentoring for mentees e-learning course.
You can download an in-depth version of this guidance if you prefer.
What is a mentee?
As a mentee you will be someone who wants to focus on your personal and professional career development and how to make the most of your career opportunities.
You will have specific and realistic goals you want to achieve, problems to solve, challenges to overcome, or something you want to talk through with your mentor so they can be a sounding board.
You may want to focus generally on your career or CV, or have something specific to discuss or get feedback on. As a mentee you can expect support, encouragement, challenge, feedback and ideas from your mentor.
- Help boost your confidence and increase your self-awareness
- Give you clarity and is an opportunity to focus on your goals, problems, challenges, and discuss your career development
- Provide a confidential, safe space to reflect, explore, discuss, share ideas and learn
- Offer you the opportunity to learn from the mentor’s experiences
- Develop your skills and confidence in asking for, giving, receiving and actioning feedback
- Increase your network
- Help you see things from the perspective of someone who has industry knowledge
To get the best from the mentoring partnership you will need to:
- Be clear about what you want to focus on in the mentoring conversations
- Understand your strengths and your development needs, and share these with your mentor
- Use your organising skills to arrange the meetings, set the agenda and take on any homework
- Be ready to receive feedback and challenge
- Be creative and generate ideas
- Learn from your mentor’s experience
- Commit to actions and review progress with your mentor
What a mentor does
A mentor will share their expertise, knowledge, insights and ideas with you to help you explore and take steps towards achieving your mentoring goals.
They will encourage, support you and help you to think for yourself. Your mentor won't have all the answers or be expected to achieve your goals for you.
- Provide a professional, industry and non-judgemental perspective
- Actively listen to the things that you want to achieve or that are causing problems or the challenges you are facing
- Act as a confidential sounding board for ideas
- Share their own experiences, ideas, giving unbiased advice, support, feedback and challenge
- Help you to come up with your own ideas and actions
Mentoring programmes can vary and it is important to find out what to expect and what is expected of you.
You should find out:
- How much guidance and training is given to mentors and mentees
- The duration of the programme as this can range from a few weeks to a year or more
- How much of the mentoring partnership is driven by you and your mentor, or whether there are structures, processes and deadlines in place such as recording mentoring activity, outcomes, and evaluation
- The overall purpose of the programme
- How the programme is managed and how the matching of mentors and mentees is achieved
- Where to go and who to contact if you have any queries or problems during the mentoring partnership
Where to meet
If you are going to meet your mentor in person, meetings should take place in a suitable environment, in an office or coffee shop, somewhere both parties feel comfortable and never in someone’s home. Meetings can take also place on the phone, via video calls or apps.
Setting the agenda
As the mentee you are responsible for organising the partnership by liaising with your mentor to arrange the date, time of the meetings, and whether each one will take place in person or virtually.
You also need to prepare for each meeting and identify what you want to focus on, a goal that is something specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
At the first meeting you will spend some time building rapport, getting to know each other and talking about how you will manage the mentoring partnership.
This should include sharing contact details, talking about and agreeing confidentiality and boundaries, discussing what mentoring is and is not.
You should agree duration, frequency of meetings and length of partnership, your achievements, challenges and career goals, and identify your mentoring topics and goals.
Discuss that mentoring does not involve the mentor giving you a job, commissioning your ideas/work, giving you a BAFTA or an Oscar, or training you in a craft or skill.
Mentoring meetings focus on what YOU want to achieve, explore, develop, solve, overcome or change.
Together with your mentor you will identify what to specifically focus on in the meetings. Then your mentor will help you explore the situation and what you could do to achieve your goal.
Your mentor will share some of their ideas and experiences. Finally, from the list of ideas you have both come up with, your mentor will help you to commit to one or two actions which will help you make some first steps towards achieving your goal.
At the beginning of each of the following meetings you can review the actions you have done and discuss what you have learned since the previous meeting, before focusing on your goal or topic for this meeting.
Review how it is going
It is good practice to regularly review the partnership, and to keep it on track by talking through any challenges and agree how to move forwards.
Don’t let the partnership just fizzle out. If you feel something is not working well, discuss this with your mentor. You could use the following questions to ask each other to make mentoring a success:
- What is working well?
- What could you or I do differently, do more or less of, to improve the partnership?
If it still doesn’t work, discuss next steps and if necessary, agree to end the partnership early.
Ending the partnership
The partnership may end when you have achieved your goals, overcome your challenges, or when the duration of the programme has been reached.
At the final meeting spend some time discussing the overall outcomes and progress made, celebrate any success, identify what you both learned and any next steps for each of you in terms of your ongoing development.
You may decide to continue to stay in touch in a less formal way.