It’s very important to have a plan or a structure to your mentoring. This includes an overall plan for the duration of your mentoring relationship as well as a plan for each session.
There are several formats that could be useful. The simplest plan for the overall relationship may be a three-stage model which could be as basic as:
Beginning: The beginning of the planning process is establishing the relationship and agreeing boundaries, confidentiality and, if a formal relationship, a contract. The planning conversation can then take place. This may follow a number of different models, depending on both the type of mentoring and the mentee's preferred style of working. See link above.
Middle: In this stage, it is useful to have a structure for the mentoring conversation and, depending on the type of mentoring, the context and your mentee's preferred style of working, different models may be more relevant. Below are a couple of models which offer different structures for the conversation, you might also like to consider those under theories of mentoring as you become more experienced.
A simple and straightforward model is the GROW model formulated by Sir John Whitmore. It follows the following stages:
Goal –Help your mentee to define their goal, aim or purpose - check it's SMART.
Reality - What is their current situation? Assist your mentee to evaluate the current situation and then check out the feasibility of their goal. Is it realistic?
Outcomes – Encourage your mentee to look at as many different strategies as they can and then decide the best alternative.
Wrap up – Encourage your mentee to “Get on with it” and work towards their planned goal.
The stages do not have to be consecutive and mentees will usually go round the cycle, planning and reviewing their progress in a Reality and Outcomes mini-cycle, several times before achieving their end goal.
For more information on the GROW model, try
In your Mentor’s Handbook you may well have a structured format already laid out for you.
End: It’s a good idea to plan the ending from the beginning. Set an end date. This could be an actual date or it could be when a specific task is completed. This makes it clear that the relationship is not open ended and can save possible distress in the long term. Endings can be difficult for many people. It’s important to recognise this and to give mentees time to prepare. You will also have your own feelings about endings and may need to recognise and manage these. If you are still going to be in regular contact with your mentee after the mentoring has ended, you may need to negotiate how you will manage that new relationship with them. Follow the link above for more information on endings.