Reasonable Expectations for Mentoring

Mentors and mentees typically enter their relationships with assumed expectations of each other. At times, some can experience disappointment because expectations were not met or even discussed. To prevent this and help you with your planning, the table below lists some common, reasonable expectations. In many cases, the expectations are similar or the same. A mentoring relationship is a partnership, with both people showing respect and support for each other.

Discuss these expectations early in your mentoring partnership. You may want to add other expectations the two of you identify.


Mentors Mentees
Meet as often as your schedules permit. Meet as often as your schedules permit.
Provide help by answering questions. Serve as a learning broker, and be a sounding board for issues relating to the mentee’s career goals and development. Talk about skills mentee could acquire to add value. Take initiative to drive the relationship and be responsible for your own career development and planning. Ask questions.
Discuss eliciting getting feedback and help mentee look for information on impact he or she is having. Focus and be interested in getting feedback and measuring how you are perceived.
Provide suggestions and advice on goals and activities that lead to effective and rewarding work. Tell stories about how others made their way in the career that might be relevant to the mentee. Ask for suggestions and advice early in the relationship. When advice is given, listen to the mentor, apply at least some of their ideas, and let him or her know the results.
Be a catalyst for mentee developing his or her own network. Point to others he or she might reach out to and engage. Elicit mentor’s advice on developing other informal mentoring relationships
Keep any commitments made. Keep any commitments made.
Keep confidences with mentee. Keep confidences with mentor.
Work out any minor concerns about the relationship. Work out any minor concerns about the relationship.
Evaluate the relationship at various points. Evaluate the relationship at various points.

Unreasonable expectations regarding mentors

There are some common unrealistic expectations of mentors that can cause irritation and disappointment on both sides. As a general guideline, the mentor should not be expected to do the following.

• Provide the mentee with personal introductions to other people unless they’re comfortable doing so.
• Spend more time on the relationship than he or she is able to give.
• Take the lead in the relationship, setting up all meetings and driving the mentee’s career development.
• Continue the relationship beyond the agreed-upon time period.

Specific tips for mentees

The practical strategies below can help mentees build a relationship with their mentors.

• Remember that you own your development, your mentor doesn’t. It’s up to you to identify objectives as well as keep the relationship focused and moving forward.
• Use active listening skills in discussions with your mentor.
• Be prepared to ask for specific advice on your skill set, ideas, plans, and goals. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your mentor to respond.
• Be complete yet succinct in your comments and explanations.
• Make it easy for your mentor to give you honest, specific feedback. Ask for it early in your relationship.

These tips were provided by the World Bank.