Through Step 1, we hope that you were able to ascertain your personal goals for entering a mentoring relationship and found a person who is willing to embark on this journey with you as your mentor. Now it is time to plan your first meeting. Remember that it is a mentee-driven mentoring program, and that you reached out to begin this relationship with your mentor; therefore, you are responsible for structuring your meetings and for steering the interactions so that you get what you need from the relationship.
For your first meeting, we recommend that you and your mentor:
- define clear ground rules and boundaries
- determine conflict resolution methods
- discuss the need for a confidentiality clause
Think about these points beforehand and come prepared to your first meeting. Clear delineation of boundaries and rules prevents you or your mentor from overstepping, keeps the relationship on track, and avoids any awkward or hurt feelings. For example, you may decide to spend no more than one hour together a month, or to not exchange gifts with one another. As you enter into a new relationship, there may be conflicts; how will these be resolved? Perhaps you can both agree on a mutual party as an intermediary should any conflict arise that you cannot resolve directly. Most importantly, you are taking your mentor into your confidence, and vice versa, and will be telling them your goals, workplace frustrations, and relationships with colleagues. Both you and your mentor must understand that any information shared is confidential, and some mentors/mentees find it important for both parties to sign a confidentiality clause at the beginning. Understand that a mentor-mentee relationship is not a friendship or a parental relationship, even though it may include aspects of both. Both you and your mentor need to devote time and energy to the “mentorship” part of your relationship in order for your experience to be a success.
The beginning of a relationship is also the time to learn about one another. Discuss with your mentor what you would like to know about each other, and let them know how you would like the program to progress. Remember that your mentor agreed to this role for a predetermined length of time, so make the most of this opportunity! Each mentor-mentee relationship is unique and may operate on very different terms, so it is up to you to make it your own.