Whether the mentoring program is formal or informal, the relationship between Mentor and Mentee goes through stages similar to those in any meaningful human relationship.
There are at least three fairly clear stages for the mentoring relationship:
- “The Honeymoon” which is marked by a spirit of agreeability.
- “Testing the Boundaries” which is marked by a spirit of disagreeability.
- “Generative” which is characterized by a spirit of mutuality.
It’s that middle phase that can behave the most like stormy weather. So how do you ride it out? For Mentees, keep your eyes firmly set on your personal goals and be candid in all communications. Accept honest criticism in the belief that it will help shape and speed your progress. Keep asking questions until you’re really clear about the answers–But don’t ask the Mentor to solve or fix anything–figure out your way forward with valuable input. For Mentors, recall that your comments and questions–your candor and genuine interest in your Mentee–make all the difference in sailing through the shoals of life. Everyone faces stormy weather at some point in on the job or elsewhere. Mentors are there to support but not to solve; to guide but not to gloss over occasional tough issues. Plan on enjoying that next phase of mutuality–TOGETHER!