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Mentor and Mentee: Roles, Responsibilities, and Relationships

January 19, 2021
3 Min Read
Photo by
James Oconnell

Are you about to embark on a mentor and mentee relationship? Before you get started, it's vital to have a clear understanding of the expectations, roles, and responsibilities that will help shape mentor and mentee for success.

P.S. – We also have a coaching skill guide! Take a look at examples of coaching leaders, our do's and don'ts, and professionals that can benefit from this skill.

Mentor and mentee roles

The role of a mentor is simple: Provide guidance and support to a mentee to help them develop professional and personal skills. During a mentor-mentee relationship, a mentor will wears different hats and take on roles that help the mentor achieve their goals.

  • Coach: Mentors will provide constant feedback, share advice, and give insights into their specific industry. Often times, mentors will share personal anecdotes like, “I wish I knew this…”
  • Devil’s advocate: Mentors will challenge the mentor when it comes to making major decisions. That means playing the opposite side and providing new angles to a decision.
  • Support System: Mentors a huge fans of the mentees. They celebrate the big and small wins, show support when mentees face setbacks, and consistently provide words of encouragement.
  • Resource: Mentors have countless resources from tools to people to jobs. When mentors and mentees build a strong rapport, the mentor is inclined to provide the necessary tools, introduce their network, and create new professional connections.

As for the role of the mentee, it’s simple too: To learn and absorb as much information as they can from the mentor. While the role of the mentee is less varied, they still play an integral role in the relationship.

  • Planner: A mentee takes the initiative to schedule meetings, provide agenda, and create action plans for their short and long-term goals. Essentially, a mentee's primary responsibility is to show proactiveness.
  • Investigator: A mentee keeps a flow of communication. That means asks probing and open-ended questions, follows up frequently, and consistently communicates updates to their mentor.
  • Student: All and all, a mentee takes on the student role. They act as a sponge and soak in the knowledge from their mentor, continue their learning even outside of their mentee-mentor relationship, and they find opportunities to learn even in moments of challenges.

Mentor and mentee responsibilities

When it comes to responsibilities of a mentor, it starts with providing guidance. Mentors give candid feedback, share personal anecdotes, and communicate hidden rules of the professional world. What makes a mentor-mentee relationship unique is how the mentor is personally invested in the mentee’s professional and personal growth.

For mentees, roles and responsibilities tend to overlap. Being proactive when planning is a key duty. From setting up the times and dates of the meeting, planning destinations of the meeting, and creating a thorough agenda — mentees take care of all those small details.

Aside from the planning aspect, it’s vital that mentees display authentic excitement and eagerness to learn from the mentor. Remember, mentors don't get paid for mentoring. They make time to help because they're personal invested in the mentee. So, be sure to appreciate their time.

Mentor and mentee relationship

No mentor and mentee relationship are the same. They come in different shapes and sizes. However, there are key qualities that each mentor-mentee relationship should have posses:

  • Willingness to help each other succeed
  • Disseminate information as needed
  • Give and receive feedback both ways
  • Improve interpersonal skills
  • Actively listen and communicate
  • Empathize for one another
  • Respect each person's time

Food for thought

There’s no such thing as the perfect mentor and mentee relationship. Each relationship is unique to the people involved. Whether you're exchanging career advice or personal stories, a mentor and mentee should have mutual respect for each other. And who knows? This mentor and mentee relationship might transcend to a life-long friendship.

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