FAQs for Mentors

Am I mentoring the CEO or the not-for-profit organisation?

Your role is to mentor the mentee as an individual. The intent is that you help your mentee think through challenges and problems and find solutions. The board or senior management team may be a part of these challenges. You should remain independent and committed to confidentiality.

How long should a mentoring session last?

Most meetings last about two hours.

How frequently should mentors and mentees meet?

We recommend at least five to six times a year, with possible telephone and/or email contact in between. If meetings are more frequent, you may risk becoming too hands on or feel imposed upon. Agree at the start of the relationship a balance that suits both of you, and be prepared to review your decision if there is a radical change of circumstances.

Where is the best place to meet?

It is best to meet where you can both feel relaxed and yet be business-like in your discussions. It could be over a coffee or in your office. A neutral, ’private’ space is usually best. Experience suggests that the mentee’s office has too many distractions and can also cause staff to question the CEO about the mentoring relationship.

How long should a mentoring relationship last?

Some relationships last for a number of years; however, most mentees and mentors find that the relationship comes to a natural end when it is clear that the agreed-on issues to be addressed have been resolved. It can be useful to set up an expected end date for the relationship. We have found the average length of time for a productive mentoring relationship is about two years, however, following a review, some mentoring pairs may set new goals and continue working together beyond this time.

Can I have more than one mentee at a time?

It is best to start with one mentee. If you then have the capacity to take on more mentees, you can discuss this with Marion and/or Rosemary, Kilfinan’s Executive Directors.

Do I have to really like my mentee?

‘Chemistry’ is important, and the relationship will struggle to be successful if rapport is lacking. Sometimes the two parties can be initially unsure of each other partly because each is unfamiliar with the other’s experience and work environment. The key is that you respect and make the effort to understand each other.

Should I meet the chair of the not-for-profit organisation?

Kilfinan Australia is a confidential service, so there is no expectation that you should have contact with your mentee’s chair, board members or any of the staff, unless your mentee believes this would be helpful.

What if my mentee decides to leave the organisation?

The confidentiality rules apply. You are entrusted with looking after your mentee’s best interests. You can help review opportunities and their reasons for considering leaving – helping them test whether this is a good choice. Mentees often present succession planning as one of the issues they wish to explore with a mentor.

Why is the relationship confidential?

The individual is being mentored not the organisation, so decisions about whether the mentee shares the fact that they are being mentored can be decided together.

What if I haven’t heard from my mentee for an extended period?

We highly recommend making the next appointment to meet before you close the current meeting. Experience suggests that it is preferable to keep the relationship continuous as this creates maximum benefit. The onus for arranging meetings rests with your mentee, but if they fail to get in contact you are encouraged to reach out. Failure to organise and prepare for meetings, however, may indicate that the relationship should be drawn to a close. Kilfinan can assist if this occurs.