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Successful Mentoring Programs

The First Few Meetings Matter!

The first few meetings of mentors and protégé (or mentee) makes a significant difference in the success of the mentoring program.

These initial meetings are about building relationships and establishing trust. Mentoring cannot be successful if trust does not exist. Mentoring is a longer-term relationships focused on helping someone achieve their professional and career goals. Therefore, it requires trust between the mentor and his/her protégé. Trust can only be built when the mentor and protégé have taken the time to get to know each other – to establish a strong working relationship. Even mentors and protégés who may already know each other within the workplace need to take the time to re-establish their relationship. Through the mentoring program, they are entering into a new type of relationship; taking the time to talk to each other before entering into actual mentoring is of value.

Let’s look at what might be accomplished in the first three meetings before actual mentoring begins.

The First Meeting

This should be a casual, getting to know each other meeting. Spend the time learning about each other on both a professional and personal level – careers, hobbies, favorite books, etc. The goal is for the mentor and protégé to be comfortable with each other; to connect.

If you are managing the mentoring program, you might provide a few activities for the mentor/protégé pairs to get them started.

The Second Meeting

The second meeting should also be about getting to know each other. This may be a more focused meeting where the protégé might begin to share a bit about his/her career and future goals. This is also a good time for the mentor to talk about his/her career path and he/she achieved career goals. These conversations continue to build a relationship between the mentor and protégé and also help to determine if they are a good fit – can the mentor help the protégé.

The Third Meeting

The third meeting should be when the mentor and protégé agree that they will work together; the mentor will support the protégé in achieving his/her long-term career goals.  This time is used for the protégé to share more about his/her career goals and steps already taken to work towards those goals. During this meeting, the mentor should collaborate with the protégé to develop an action plan to move forward. During this third meeting, the mentor and protégé should schedule recurring regularly meetings.

These first few meetings between the mentor and the protégé enable for the pair to begin to get to know each other, on both a personal and professional level. This relationship building is key to trust; which is key to success in the mentoring relationship. If Human Resources are promoting mentoring programs within the organization, outline these three meetings and the goals of each of these meetings. Ensure mentoring pairs know the value of taking the time to get to know each other. Provide activities that enable for the mentor and protégé to get to know each other.

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