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Reviewing the mentoring relationship


Published: 19 December 2022

Version: December 2022

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Why is it important to review the mentoring relationship?

Reviewing and evaluating the mentoring relationship is important for the development of the mentor, the mentee, the organisation and key stakeholders who support the mentoring programme. The EMCC Global Mentor and Coach eighth core competence and framework describes the following in relation to defining evaluation: ‘gathers information on the effectiveness of their practice and contributes to establishing a culture of evaluation of outcomes.’

Below, we consider the importance of review and evaluation from the different stakeholder perspectives.

  • Mentor: Reviewing and evaluating the mentoring relationship on a regular basis will help the mentor to understand the degree of trust, rapport, sense of direction, quality of conversation, enjoyment, value and the overall satisfaction within the relationship. The review and evaluation is an opportunity for the mentor to continually develop their knowledge and practice
  • Mentee: Review and evaluation will help the mentee to understand if any learning has taken place, new insights gained, greater clarity achieved, and recognise the change and transitions that have occurred, progressing towards their specific goals and objectives for participating in the mentoring programme
  • Programme management team: Review and evaluation of the mentoring relationships from a programme perspective can help the organisation to understand if the processes put in place have been successful, for example the matching criteria, programme administration, training and continuing support and supervision
  • Programme sponsor: Review and evaluation mentoring relationships from a sponsor perspective can help the sponsor to understand if the mentoring programme met the overall aim and objectives, if it is a worthwhile investment and strategically aligns to the organisations goals.

When to review the mentoring relationship

It is good practice for the review of mentoring relationships to take place on a regular basis, as the mentoring relationship transitions from the first few meetings to the end of the relationship.

Each review stage may have a different focus,; however, the overall purpose of the mentoring relationship review is to establish if the mentoring relationship is working. The typical review stages are outlined below:

  • After the second or third meeting: this is an opportunity for the mentor and mentee to ‘check-in’ and review if the mentor and mentee match feels suitable and both parties feel the relationship will work
  • Mid-point review: this is an opportunity to take stock, what progress has been made in relation to the overall purpose of the relationship, to what extent does the mentee feel that the relationship is adding value to their personal and professional development. At this point the mentor and mentee may decide if they wish to continue working together
  • End of programme review: this is an opportunity to reflect on the relationship, the learning that has taken place, changes and transitions, new insights and developments. It is also important to celebrate, to give thanks to one another for the time, energy and commitment given

In addition to the mentoring relationship transition points above, it is good practice to ‘check-in’ and ‘check-out’ at the beginning and end of each mentoring session. The ‘check-in’ involves re-connecting, looking back at the previous session, exploring what has changed since the last session and establishing the focus of the current session. In the ‘check-out’ the mentor and mentee review the meeting, confirm the next steps and look forward to the next session.

What to review in the mentoring relationship?

Mentoring relationships can be reviewed from a process and outcome perspective. Furthermore, individual mentoring sessions can be reviewed from a thematic perspective.

  • Process: This often involves reviewing the frequency and duration of meetings, mode and media for meetings (how effective is the choice of venue or online meeting tool), clarity of purpose, trust, honesty and authenticity
  • Outcomes: This involves reviewing the extent to which learning and change have occurred. This might be in relation to behaviours, performance, leadership, emotional, confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

In the second edition of Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring (2016), Natalie Lancer and colleagues, identify a number of different levels by which coaches can undertake reflection and evaluation. They also provide thirteen themes which coaches can use to reflect on each mentoring session. Below, we highlight four themes which might be most helpful in the mentoring context.

  • Focus: To what extent do the mentor and mentee have a sense of purpose and urgency?
  • Mentee’s progress: To what extent do the mentor and mentee notice changes and transitions?
  • Boundaries: What concerns, if any, do the mentor or mentee have about the relationship boundaries?
  • Power issues: To what extent is the agenda driven by the mentee? Does the mentee feel that the mentor is imposing their position or applying influence?
  • Systems: To what extent do the mentor and mentee understand the systems and their influences?

Over time, mentors will create their own evaluation framework with questions that they feel particularly helpful and insightful in developing themselves and the quality of their mentoring relationships.

Who is responsible for reviewing the mentoring relationship?

All parties have a responsibility to review the mentoring relationship, however, there is a distinction between formal and informal mentoring programmes.

Formal mentoring usually takes place within the framework of an organisational context, often designed with a specific purpose with specific groups of individuals. Informal mentoring is often an outcome of formal mentoring or emerges as people feel more comfortable with their mentoring experience and approaches to mentoring.

In formal mentoring programmes, which come under the umbrella of the organisation and a mentoring framework, the programme team will be required to evaluate the mentoring relationships. Mentors and mentees will be expected to support the review and evaluation of their relationships with a view to providing the programme team with feedback.

In informal mentoring relationships, mentors and mentees will review and evaluate the relationship. The emphasis is very much on mutual feedback and review.

The following outlines key stakeholders and their responsibilities:

  • Mentors have an ongoing responsibility to develop their knowledge, skills and practice. They commit to continuing professional development in their journey as a mentor. This involves giving and receiving feedback, with the view to developing their practice and facilitating effective mentoring relationships
  • Mentees have a responsibility to themselves and their mentor, to provide mutual feedback and engage in the review of quality of the relationship
  • Mentoring programme teams have a responsibility to review and evaluate the quality and impact of mentoring relationships, providing visibility and transparency to all stakeholders associated with the programme
  • Organisations have a responsibility to their key stakeholders to review and evaluate the quality and impact of the relationships and, if the programme has achieved its overall aim and objectives.

Questions to consider:

  • Reflecting on your previous experience of mentoring, what emphasis, if any, has been placed on the review and evaluation of the mentoring relationship?
  • Reflecting on your previous experience of mentoring, how frequently did the mentor and mentee review the mentoring relationship?
  • Reflecting on your previous experience of mentoring, what, if any, was the focus of the relationship evaluation?
  • Reflecting on your previous experience of mentoring, what emphasis, if any, has been placed on the review and evaluation of the mentoring relationship?
  • How might you approach review and evaluation in your mentoring relationship?

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