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Relationship Management

Mentoring isn’t easy. As with most endeavors that improve people’s lives, it involves overcoming challenges, making mistakes, occasionally failing, and persisting long enough to enjoy success. But the rewards are well worth the effort. Helping with the professional development of another person can give you a great feeling of accomplishment.

As a mentor or protege, you’ll learn to negotiate occasional rough roads and unexpected turns. You’ll also meet potential challenges to your relationships, such as:

  • unrealistic expectations,
  • lack of a serious commitment from a mentor,
  • insufficient time to meet, and
  • rumors and jealousy.

Unrealistic expectations

Problems usually arise if either the mentor or the protege has unrealistic expectations. Perhaps the mentor expects her protege to advance too quickly. Or maybe the protege expects too much of his mentor’s time or believes the mentor can protect him from unfavorable political developments.

To avoid these problems, you might use your first meeting with your protege to agree on both your goals and expectations, including the time you plan to spend together and benchmarks for your protege’s progress. After a few weeks, you should renegotiate your original expectations. You may both need to reassess the mentoring relationship in order to adjust for unexpected changes and challenges.