ATD Blog

What Exactly Is the Mentor's Role? What Is the Mentee’s?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Working with a mentor can be an invaluable experience for both parties. The mentor and mentee will likely learn new things about themselves and each other that will help them move toward career goals. But to make a successful mentor mentee relationship, each party needs to understand the role they play.

The role of a mentor is to act as:

  • Advisor and coach: provide advice, guidance, and feedback; share their experience and expertise as appropriate; act as a sounding board for ideas and action plans
  • Champion and cheerleader: offer encouragement and support to try new things; help mentees move out their comfort zones; celebrate successes; help mentees understand when things do not go as planned; act as a role model for the mentee
  • Resource and recommendations: identify resources that will help mentees with personal development and growth, such as recommending books, workshops, or other learning tools; encourage mentees to join networking organizations or introduce them to new contacts
  • Devil's advocate and “truth-sayer”: provide the tough feedback that mentees need to hear in order to move forward; push mentees to take risks when appropriate; help mentees consider and weigh potential consequences of decisions and actions to avoid the pitfalls and predictable surprises that may occur.

Meanwhile, the mentees have their own responsibilities, including:

  • identify initial learning goals and measures of success for the mentoring relationship
  • be open to and seek feedback
  • take an active role in their own learning and help drive the process
  • Schedule and attend mentor conversations
  • follow through on commitments and take informed risks as they try new options and behaviors in support of career and development goals.

In your first mentoring conversations, you will want to discuss and clarify expectations with your mentor these sorts of roles and responsibilities. Good luck!
Check out similar articles: 5 Tips for Successful Mentoring Program Implementation ; Setting Mentors Up For Success.

This post was originally published in January 2014 and was updated with new resources.

About the Author

Morag Barrett is the author of the best-selling book “Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships.” She is also the founder and CEO of SkyeTeam, and dedicated to helping individuals, teams and organizations achieve extraordinary business results through leadership development and human resources management. Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing high potential individuals and teams, as well as working with FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 organizations. She is a highly effective speaker, trainer and coach for new managers and seasoned executives alike. Prior to founding SkyeTeam, Morag held leadership positions at Level 3 Communications, and NatWest Bank where she advised international organizations on their corporate strategy and growth plans. Originally from the UK, she has experience with a wide range of cultures and businesses developing high potential individuals and teams across the United States, Europe and Asia. Morag brings more than 25 years of industry experience and a deep understanding of the complexities of running a business and leading executive teams. Morag holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from De Montfort University, UK and received the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She is also a recognized business coach for the Corporate Coach University and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK. When not at work Morag can be found sailing with her husband and three sons, playing the Bassoon for the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra, or Ballroom dancing!

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