The mentor mentee relationship comes in many guises and can be part of a formal structured programme initiated by the organisation or a more spontaneous arrangement developed between two people. Whether the mentoring situation is organisation or person to person initiated, there are undoubtedly pitfalls that the inexperienced must avoid if they wish to become a good mentor.

  1. In a manager to direct report situation it is within the realms of possibility that a mentor-protégé relationship can develop, after all, it is highly likely that the manager has selected the staff member for their potential, and to encourage the junior staff member to develop professionally is part of people management. So you may ask, where does the pitfall lie? If the manager has a single chosen protégé within their team of staff, particularly when this was person rather than organisation oriented, this can cause jealousy or discontent as those not selected to be mentored feel that they do not receive the same level of attention or support in their career. There is a strong argument for making mentor-mentee relationships across departments.
  2. Some of the key foundations to successful mentoring include willingness, interest and engagement in the process. Sadly, where mentoring programmes are formalised processes they can be viewed as a bore or as yet another thing to be crammed into an ever increasing workload, meaning positive attitudes can be missing for both mentor and mentee. It is essential that the mentor is willing to be a mentor (if not, best to speak up at the outset), is interested in how they can help their mentee develop, and engaged in what it will entail, only then can they ensure the mentoring relationship they are attempting to build doesn’t come crashing down.