What Does a Mentor Relationship Look Like?

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Thursday, October 20th, 2022

Simply put, mentorship occurs when someone of greater experience intentionally provides direction to a less experienced member of their profession or vocation. A mentor should not be mistaken for a coach as mentorship typically involves a relationship focusing on maximizing mentee career potential overall, wheras coaching focuses on a particular talent or skill. Moreover, the mentor-mentee relationship is typically long-term consisting of a series of dialogues, not just two to three brief interactions.

The duration of a mentoring relationship and the frequency of meetings is ultimately decided by participants involved but it is recommended that mentors and mentees meet no less than once a quarter and no more than three times a month [1]. David Clutterbuck, a prolific writer and researcher of mentorship divides the mentor relationship into five stages, which he has developed as a result of his longitudinal studies on mentorship. These stages being rapport building, direction setting, progress making, maturation and moving on [2]. Understanding these stages maximizes the benefit that both members receive through the partnership and should be explored as you pursue your own mentoring relationships. For example, if you are aware of the first stages being rapport building and direction setting, perhaps having an introductory meeting where you can discuss personal matters and goals with the mentee would be most beneficial. Additionally, knowing the current stage of a mentor relationship gives participants insight regarding how to further develop the relationship, or readjust to meet new goals.

 Clutterbuck also includes that it is the mentor’s responsibility to manage this relationship. In fact, Clutterbuck shares the acronym MENTOR in his first edition of “Everyone Needs a Mentor” to describe the responsibilities of a mentor. M is for managing the relationship. E is for encouraging the mentee. N is for nurturing an open environment for growth. T is for teaching the mentee. O is for offering mutual respect and R is for responding to mentee needs [3]. Simply put, this acronym is a job description for us and the mentors we pursue.

A preliminary investigation should show that mentors are servant leaders looking to develop a mentee via meaningful relationships and career experiences.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” – John Crosby


[1] Williams, Z. M. ( 1 ), & Grant, A. ( 2 ). (2012). Be a good mentor. Education for Primary Care, 23(1), 56-58–58. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.1080/14739879.2012.11494070

[2] Jenkins, S. (2013). David Clutterbuck, mentoring and coaching. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 8(1), 139–153

[3] David Clutterbuck. (2005). Establishing And Maintaining Mentoring Relationships: An Overview Of Mentor And Mentee Competencies. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 3(3). https://doi-org.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/10.4102/sajhrm.v3i3.70

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Thu, 10/20/2022 - 9:33am -- Anonymous

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