Establishing the ground rules of mentoring

Mentoring relationships thrive when firm ground rules have been established.

At the beginning of any mentoring relationship, it's important that all parties are clear about what to expect and how the mentoring will work. This stage is known as ‘contracting’ and is perhaps the most important phase in mentoring.

Taking time to consider the ground rules, boundaries and expectations with your mentee will help to avoid any misunderstandings and frustrations further down the line and gives the mentoring arrangement the best chance of success.

Things to consider before you meet a prospective mentee

Ask yourself:

  • What is my purpose for mentoring this person?
  • What do I need to know about my mentee?
  • What does my mentee need to know about me?
  • Are there any barriers to me being an effective mentor? If so, what can I do to overcome them?

What to agree in your first conversation with a mentee

In conversation with your mentee, you should agree:

  • when, where and how often you will meet and for how long
  • the criteria of success
  • how you will know whether the mentoring arrangement is working
  • how you will you monitor progress
  • what to  do if one or more parties feel that it is not working

Finding additional support for mentees

As a mentor, you are not required to have all the answers. In fact often it needs to be the mentee that finds the solution themselves. Be honest at the start about what you can and can’t support your mentee with.

If during discussions it becomes clear that they need additional information or support from other sources, bring this to their attention and assist them in finding the appropriate support mechanisms.

Maintaining confidentiality

Confidentiality is of utmost importance in mentoring relationships and is essential for building trust and rapport.

If there are situations in which you would not be able to maintain confidentiality you must make these clear in the first discussion with your mentee. Ensure that any records, notes and correspondence relating to your mentees are stored and disposed of securely.

You should report any criminal conduct, possible harassment, bullying, health and safety or wellbeing incidents/issues please contact