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Setting Expectations

Defining expectations—goals and objectives—sets a framework for the mentoring relationship. Although informal mentoring relationships can be successful, a more formal structure will improve communication and help track progress. You should discuss your mutual expectations for the mentoring relationship at an early stage, in the first or second meeting with your mentor.

Below are some key areas for discussion and agreement. You may include other topics as appropriate.

Goal(s) of the mentoring relationship:
Describe the specific outcome or tangible product that you will generate through the mentoring relationship; defining goal(s) will focus the mentoring relationship.

Timeline and length of relationship:
Defining an initial period for the relationship provides an end-point at which you can assess your progress and decide whether to continue.

Activities to be conducted:
Describe what you and your mentor will do through the mentoring relationship.

Describe the ground rules and responsibilities for the mentoring relationship.

Communication methods and frequency:
Describe how often you will meet, how you will communicate (email, phone). Shorter but more frequent meetings will help you keep work on track.

Actions to be taken if problems arise:
Describe how you will resolve conflicts or problems in the mentoring relationship.

A Mentoring Agreement is a useful tool to record your mutual expectations—go to next step.