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Submitted by crowe83 on


A younger coworker has asked me to be her mentor. I'm flattered and excited to do it, but I don't completely know where to start. I've never been a mentor before, and I've never had a great mentor. When I looked for help online, I got vague, unhelpful, and not at all actionable suggestions. It was things like "be credible" and "be interested". One even said not to curse at the person and call them worthless (I'm not sure why this doesn't go without saying). At Manager Tools, I've gotten used to recommendations I can immediately put into action, so the lack of good advice has me a little irritated. Does anyone have any tips on making this a helpful thing for both her and I?

I'm looking for suggestions on some of the basics, like:

1. How often do we meet? The mentoring podcast suggested quarterly, but we work closely together anyway, so more frequently wouldn't be challenging from a scheduling point of view.

2. What should be the agenda for meetings? I'm mostly expecting her to take the lead on that, but I feel like I should prepare something.

3. What kind of things should I suggest she work on? I was thinking about using something like the Coaching Model.


jrb3's picture
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You'll find plenty of advice available through your local Toastmasters club(s).  Ideally, find someone who has served as an elected District officer;  at least in the districts I've served in, they're already well-involved with mentoring and being mentored.

Also, Fred Smith has a section on mentoring in his book "You and Your Network".  (ISBN 9-780937-539170)  He points out that it's very effective to have a mentor yourself when it's time to start mentoring.

Here's what closes his chapter:

  • A mentor's job is to create an environment for growth.
  • When we stop learning, we stop living.
  • Men who know the same things are not profitable company for each other.
  • There are those who will never be able to stand alone, but through noble character they can aspire to lean lightly.
  • It takes time to turn information into knowledge and still more to turn knowledge into wisdom.
  • Seeking counsel and seeking affirmation are two entirely different things.
  • Lesser humans crave acceptance, while greater ones seek accomplishment.
  • What you do best is probably so easy you underestimate its value.
  • The man who lifts heavy weights must take a broad stance.
mfculbert's picture


There is an older thread on the topic with some good insights. It also links you to one of the best podcasts on mentoring.

When I mentor, I start by reviewing the podcast. Then I make sure my mentee listens to the podcast first. I counsel them that I will NOT accept any gift for the mentoring but do expect them to hold up their part of the bargain. If they agree we proceed. Otherwise I continue to be helpful but it is not an official mentorship.

crowe83's picture
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Thanks JRB3. I'll check out Fred Smith's book.

Thanks MFCulbert. I had seen that thread and podcast, but it's aimed at the protege, not the mentor. It is a good idea to have her listen to it. I'll definitely do that.