At the beginning of any mentoring relationship, it’s crucial you and your mentee are completely open and honest about each other’s expectations and how evaluation of the process will be established. Not doing so can cause issues later. After all, the more you know about the mentee's goals, the more effective you can be in sponsoring them for activities in their department or professional organizations.
Having a written agreement between you and your mentee can avoid future conflicts. One of the first things the two of you should discuss is the time commitment involved. Mentorship is often for a defined period of time, commonly one year. During this timeframe, you should meet regularly. Then after the year (or time commitment chosen) ends, you can decide how you want your relationship to continue, if at all.
It is also important to include confidentiality as part of the mentoring agreement. This will help the mentee feel comfortable seeking council and discussing sensitive issues. You should reassure your mentee there will be no direct feedback to their department chair or other leadership. Review an example of a mentoring agreement.
Both you and your mentee need to agree to fulfill common responsibilities, some of which are often listed in the mentoring agreement. These could include:
- Development of trust
- Commitment to regular meetings
- Commitment to preparation
- Establishment of the mentee's goals
- Establishment of boundaries
- A willingness of both to receive feedback
- Open communication
- Accountability to the process