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4. Drive Active Relationships

For Mentor | Mentee

How to Reflect and Summarize

The ability to reflect on and summarize what your partner has said is part of being an active listener.
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2 mins

The ability to reflect on and summarize what your partner has said is part of being an active listener and will improve the effectiveness of your session. 

Reflect on what you hear -
Listen to your partner’s words and think deeply about it. Try to understand where they are coming from, what they mean and come up with your own ideas or thoughts on the subject. This shows your partner that you are listening and carefully considering what they have to say.

Observe –
You should also pay attention to non-verbal cues and behavior you see. You may say, “I noticed you looked down when you said that…”, or “It seemed like your voice softened when you mentioned that person. Is there something more you want to say about them?” 

Summarize -
Periodically, summarize what you have heard and check that it’s accurate. Summarizing and checking shows you’ve been listening and understanding what your mentoring partner has said. You may rephrase what they said and ask if it’s what they meant. It also helps you recollect important points they have mentioned or clarify anything that was unclear.

Give a shortened version of what you’ve heard by stating the key facts. Don’t try to interpret or add to it. Use this skill when you feel ideas are getting confusing, or when there seems to be more than one issue on the table.

You may use the Notes tab to summarize and keep track of any ideas or key points discussed during the Session so you have it handy for later. You may also refer to it before your next Session and keep track of your progress.

For Mentor | Mentee

How to Give and Receive Feedback

Thoughtful feedback is a crucial part of the mentoring process.
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3 mins

The objective of feedback is to help your mentee learn and improve, and not to criticize them. Done well, feedback can:

  1. Enhance communication and trust.
  2. Clarify expectations, and help partners be more open and honest about what each expects of the other.
  3. Increase engagement and commitment, so both mentoring partners feel they have a stake in the journey.

Giving productive feedback

Feedback needs to be consistent and constructive. Here are some tips on how to give productive feedback. 

  • Permission: Ask permission before giving feedback.
  • Intention: Question your intentions. Why are you giving this feedback? Will it help your mentoring partner learn?
  • Be specific: Provide tangible examples of behavior you have observed. Discuss its impact.
  • Frequency: Give feedback frequently when it is still actionable.
  • Positive: Also focus on positive feedback. What’s going well? 
  • Two-way discussion: Allow your mentoring partner to respond and think about what they are saying. Discuss ways to move forward and potential solutions. 

Receiving feedback

How you receive feedback is also important. Be sure to listen and think carefully about feedback. Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen: Listen attentively to what is being said. Don’t begin to plan how you will respond, and tuning out what is being said.
  • Be open to feedback: Try to have an open mind, and be willing to change your behavior if necessary. 
  • Reflect: Reflect back to your mentoring partner what you have heard to ensure you understand it clearly. Ask any questions. 
  • Two-way discussion: Together, discuss potential solutions so you can move things forward. 
  • Appreciate: Thank or recognize your mentoring partner for what they have shared with you.
For Mentor | Mentee

How to Be a Good Listener

We all know how it feels when someone pretends to listen, but does not give us their full attention.
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2 mins

Listening is key to most relationships. We all know how it feels when someone pretends to listen, but does not give us their full attention. Mentoring requires strong listening skills.
A good listener hears not only what’s said, but also what’s left unsaid. 

Here are some tips to become a better listener -

1. Be present

First, put your phone on silent and keep it aside. Face your body towards the other person, and if culturally appropriate, make eye contact. Show you are interested. Check your posture–are you relaxed and open? Give your full attention.

2. Stop talking and just listen

So often we do not give other people the space to talk. We interrupt them, finish their sentences, or talk over them. This shuts the other person down. Be silent. Give non-verbal cues showing you are listening. Allow for pauses so your mentoring partner can think more deeply.

3. Remove distractions

If you are meeting virtually, set your cameras in a way that you can make eye contact. Remove distractions. Avoid distracting behaviors such as doodling, checking your phone and yawning. Offer your undivided attention. 

4. Be non-judgmental

Try to remove your prejudices and judgments from your interaction. Keep an open mind and fully listen. Show empathy. Try to step into your partner’s shoes and understand their perspective. 

5. Pay attention to non-verbal communication

Watch your partner and notice their gestures, expressions and body language. Are you sensing how they are feeling? What are they saying through their body language?

For Mentor | Mentee

Sample Agenda for a Regular Mentoring Meeting

This structured agenda is based on MentorCloud’s “best practices”.
1 min

This structured agenda is based on MentorCloud’s “best practices” learned from working with many companies across the globe. It will help your mentoring meetings be productive and successful.

The recommended time is 60 minutes. 

1. Feedback And Update (10 minutes)

  • Reminder on the importance of confidentiality and respect.
  • Update on what has happened since the last meeting. Refer to Notes from last meeting.
  • Feedback from the mentee and mentor on their progress regarding Tasks, Goals and  the action plan.

2. Discussion (40 minutes)

  • Discussion points to be presented by the mentee.
  • Questions asked by mentors to clarify the issues or challenges.
  • Guided discussion on how to address challenges. 
  • Options to address challenges going forward.
  • Mentor can share experience or advice if the mentee requests it.

3. Close (10 minutes)

  • New action plan for mentees.
  • Update Goals, Tasks and add any new Notes
  • New action points for mentors.
  • Preparation for the next meeting: venue, date and time?

When you create a Session, there is an option for your to write down an Agenda. It is best to plan ahead and have a few points of discussion written down for the next meeting.

For Mentor | Mentee

How to Make Remote Mentoring Work

Remote mentoring can be just as successful as in-person mentoring.
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3 mins

Remote mentoring can be just as successful as in-person mentoring. Here are some tips for successful remote mentoring.

  1. Choose a venue that is private - where your conversation cannot be overheard. Don’t conduct a mentoring session from your desk in an open office. Both mentoring partners should be able to  talk frankly and openly and have privacy.
  1. Logistics - Set a date and time. Schedule a meeting right on MentorCloud with Sessions. Ensure both your calendars have been uploaded and that the correct time zones have been chosen. You can also discuss and select your preferred video conferencing tool. Have a light facing you, rather than behind you, so your mentoring partner can see your face. Turn your camera on. 
  1. Virtual platform - Become familiar with the functionality of the MentorCloud platform and the preferred video conferencing tool. Use Tasks, Goals and Notes tab on MentorCloud as well as the chat option in your video conferencing tool. Share your screen to review tasks and goals together. Do you both have enough bandwidth to connect virtually?
  1. Set ground rules - How do you feel about  being on mute? What happens with confidentiality if someone walks into the room? If one of you is at home, how will you address distractions such as the doorbell ringing or dog barking? 
  1. Stay focused -  As much as possible, eliminate distractions. Silence or switch you off your phone. Close your email and any other work that may be open.
  1. Get to know each other first  - Don’t jump immediately into mentoring. Instead, find out things about each other. If there are cultural differences, discuss what is socially acceptable, or not, for your meetings.
  1. Actively listen - Pay attention. Show you are listening by looking into the camera, nodding your head and giving an affirmative cue. Try not to interrupt or talk over each other.
For Mentor

How to Ask Productive Questions

Questioning is a key skill in mentoring.
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2 mins

Questioning is a key skill in mentoring. By understanding how to ask the right questions, you can unlock your mentee’s thinking and generate valuable insights. 

Closed and open-ended questions
Use both closed and open-ended questions in your mentoring conversations.

1. Closed-ended questions: 

Can be answered by a few words and provide information about facts. Use them when you need clarification or a specific answer. They usually begin with “Who,” “Where,” and “When,” and “How much?”.  


  • “Who was part of the conversation?”
  • “Where did you work previously?”
  • “When did you join the company?”
  • “How much was your quota?”

2. Open-ended  questions: 

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with one word, or a simple “Yes” or “No”. Typically, they require more thought and can lead to deeper thinking and insights. Open-ended questions often begin with “What”, “What if”,“How?” and “Why”. 


  •   “What motivates you?”
  • “What accomplishments are you proud of?”
  • “What if you had an unlimited budget for this project, how would you spend it?”
  •   “How will you go about motivating your team?”.

Asking questions can be stressful for some new mentors. Remember, it’s more important to actively listen than to think about what question to ask next. After fully listening, reflecting back and summarizing, the right question will come to you.

For Mentor

How to Ask Challenging Questions

Asking challenging questions can be helpful to encourage deeper thinking about a situation.
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1 min

Asking challenging questions can be helpful to encourage deeper thinking about a situation. However, these questions need to be asked with care and sensitivity.

Sometimes “Why” questions can be seen as judgmental or speculative, for example, “Why did your team react that way?”; however, when used sparingly, they can be effective. Sometimes a “Why” question can be rephrased using a “What” or “How” question. 

Asking questions that are challenging can lead to critical and reflective thinking and may help your mentee generate insights. 

Challenging questions are usually:

  • difficult to answer
  • slightly out of the respondent’s comfort zone 
  • non-judgmental
  • personal to the respondent and specific to the topic
  • push the respondent to think more deeply

Examples include: “What’s unique about your situation?”, “What critical feedback do you most often receive, and do you deserve it?”, “What dream have you given up on?”, and “What are you risking by not stepping out of your comfort zone?”.

For Mentor

How to Build the Relationship with Your Mentee

Time you spend building rapport and trust with your mentee will improve the success of the journey.
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2 mins

Time you spend building rapport and trust with your mentee will improve the success of the journey. 
Here are key components you need to build that relationship -

1. Confidentiality in both directions is key. Do not discuss anything your mentee shares with you unless you have their permission. Remind your mentee of confidentiality at the beginning and end of every session. 

2. Building rapport and trust are essential. Here are some ways you can build trust.

  • Don’t rush. Spend enough time in the beginning getting to know each other, rather than rushing into goal setting and solutions. 
  • Do your research about your mentee so you’re not starting cold. Acknowledge their strengths.
  • Believe your mentee has the best answers within themselves. Your job is to ask the right questions.
  • Follow through – do what you say you are going to do.
  • Be prepared to be vulnerable – don’t just share your hero stories. Also share the times you failed.
  • Ask for and be open to feedback from your mentee.
  • Be non-judgmental.
  • Listen a lot! Talk a little.
  • Ask open-ended questions

3. Ask open-ended questions to get to know your mentee.

  • What are your values? 
  • What do you believe are strengths? 
  • What are you passionate about? 
  • What motivates you? 
  • What are you most proud of? 
  • What successes have you had? 
  • What have you taken away  from your failures? 
For Mentor

What to Do in a Mentoring Meeting as a Mentor

Having a structure can help you and your mentee make your time more productive.
2 mins

Having a structure can help you and your mentee make your time more productive. The format can be adapted to suit your requirements so there’s a natural flow. 

1. Feedback And Update 

Remind your mentee about confidentiality as well as any ground rules. 

Talk to your mentee about:

  • Feedback on their progress on the action plan. 
  • An update on what has happened in their work or personal life since you last met. 
  • Progress on what you committed to do since the last meeting.

2. Discussion

This is where you will spend the bulk of your time. Ask your mentee to go through the discussion points on their agenda, and identify the issues they want to discuss.

Example of prompting questions:

“What would be most useful for you to discuss today?”

“What would you like this session to focus on?” 

Ask questions to clarify the issues your mentee has presented; be sure you fully understand before moving on.

Guide your mentee to think about their issue more thoroughly. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to think more deeply.

Example of prompting questions:

“What options have you considered?”

“What do you see as the pros and cons of each?”

You can then share some of your experiences and advice, if it's requested.

3. Close

Action Plan - Ask your mentee to put together an action plan of what they would like to work on before the next meeting. If needed, help them to think through options. Make a note of anything you could provide, such as an article or video, to help them.  Make sure you send them to your mentee.

Discuss and schedule your next meeting. Set up a recurring meeting if you mutually agree on a time that works for both of you. Finally, sincerely thank your mentee for their hard work.

For Mentor

How to Prepare for Your Mentoring Meeting as a Mentor

Your mentee is responsible for most of the preparation for their mentoring meeting.
2 mins

Your mentee is responsible for most of the preparation for their mentoring meeting; however, here are some things you can do to make it more productive -

1. Be in the right frame-of-mind:

  • Take time before your meeting to reflect on your mentee’s progress-to-date. Is the relationship working as expected?
  • Be fully present. Eliminate distractions (especially your phone!).  

2. Review the agenda and action plan:

  • Your mentee should have sent you an agenda before your meeting. It should include a timeline, an update from your last meeting, and input needed from you. Be prepared to suggest any needed changes to the agenda.
  • Review the action plan and tasks set from your last meeting and ask for an update at the beginning of your session.

3. Goals: 

  • Review the stated goals and milestones from your initial meeting and reflect on your mentee’s progress-to-date. 

4. Your Action Items: 

  • Have you done your action items from the last meeting? Be prepared to provide an update. 

Your mentee should be setting the agenda and sending an invite before each meeting. Be prepared to help them at first if necessary. Ensure you have synchronized your calendar so you can set up a date, time, topic and set an agenda for your session. You can also choose your preferred video conferencing platform so that you don’t have to set up new meetings every time you schedule a mentoring session.

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