• Estelle Roux-Stevens

The mentoring life cycle and its benefits

The amount of time a professional mentoring relationship lasts varies depending on the situation. Some programmes can go on for 12 months, while others might be shorter. In some cases, they can last longer than a year - although it’s more common for mentor and mentee to retain an informal relationship after the 12-month period.

Throughout the length of a mentorship, mentor and mentee go through different stages of the life cycle. Each cycle has several benefits designed to give the mentee confidence and help them grow both professionally and personally.

Here are six stages you can expect to experience during a mentorship programme.

Stage 1: Building a rapport

The first stage is perhaps the most important, as this is when the initial relationship begins to foster. Mentors and mentees will be getting to know each other better and gaining a feel for how they’re going to work together.

These initial building blocks are vital for laying the foundation for how the relationship progresses. Mentors need to agree on a work schedule with their mentees - it’s at this point that trust-building begins and the relationship building begins.

A mentor will look for a number of traits such as the values both parties share and things they have in common with each other. Mentors will also be keen not to make early judgements, instead placing an emphasis on building a structure that benefits the mentee.

Stage 2: Defining Goals

Setting realistic goals is vital for a successful mentorship that will give the mentee all the tools they need to succeed. Both the mentor and mentee should discuss what they want to derive from the relationship and how to achieve targets.

The blueprint isn't set in stone at this point, but there will discussions to see which direction things should go. Goals for the relationship - plus a vague idea of what is desired from the outcome - should also form part of the dialogue.

Stage 3: Evolution

Once a rapport starts to build, and goals are set, the results begin to slowly bear fruit. Those initial goals you spoke about are now more transparent, and the real work starts between mentor and mentee. It’s at this point that both parties need to make sure they are well prepared before each meeting, so they gain the maximum from each session.

The mentor will also start looking at how things are progressing with the mentee, making sure the relationship is on the right track. They might also explore new ways of working together that can be added to the current structure with the aim of adding another dimension to the programme.

Step 4: Acknowledging success

The relationship should be a nurturing and supportive one by now. Which is why it’s important to celebrate successes and progression. Doing so will help the mentee feel empowered and positive about the meetings that have taken place.

There will still be room for improvements at this stage - perhaps even new goals added - but, by now, the mentee should be feeling increased confidence. They should be better prepared to cope with demanding situations.

Step 5: Wrapping Up

By this stage, the mentee should have completed most of the set goals. The relationship is entering the final parts of the cycle, and natural progression should have been achieved. There is still time for a discussion about further targets, but the mentee would have achieved most of what they set out to do.

There are a few options during step five, and it’s up to the mentor and mentee to decide whether they want to bring the programme to an end or evolve and work on new goals. Reviewing what has been done so far and seeing how it can fit into other aspects of the mentee’s daily life is also a good idea.

Step 6: The end of the cycle

Once the mentor and mentee have decided they have everything needed, it’s time to end the programme and move on. It doesn’t mean that the relationship ends entirely, however. Both parties should clearly define what comes next, rather than bluntly stopping communication.

It can be hard for mentees to deal with losing their support network suddenly. Review everything that has happened, explore how the relationship has evolved, and look at which ways you will stay in touch if that is something both parties feel is necessary.

Mentoring with Mentorjam

Mentorjam makes sure that the mentor/mentee relationship is as strong as possible with

specific tracks that champion employee development, all the way from “hire to retire”. Track templates mean that businesses can start a programme quickly, while bespoke options allow for specific catering to a company’s needs.