FAQs for Mentors

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

Your role is to mentor the individual. Not-for-profit CEOs often have isolated and unique roles and your task as a mentor is to help your mentee think through challenges and problems and find solutions. The CEO’s board or senior management team may be a part of these challenges and your independence and commitment to confidentiality are important factors in the success of Kilfinan Australia.

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 last for many years, however, most people outgrow their mentors which is generally a good thing for both parties. To provide some sense of pace, it can be useful to set up an expected end date for the relationship. Kilfinan Australia has found the average length of time for a productive mentoring relationship is about two years, however, some mentoring pairs set new goals and continue working together.

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 you can’t stand each other. The key is that you respect and make the effort to understand each other. Sometimes, the two parties can be initially unsure of each other partly because each is unfamiliar with the other’s experience and work environment.

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

Kilfinan Australia is a confidential service, so you should not expect to have contact with the chair, board members or any of the staff at the organisation, unless your mentee asks you to. Remember that we are mentoring the individual not the organisation.

What if my mentee decides to leave the organisation?

The confidentiality rules apply. You are entrusted with looking after the best interests of your mentee. You should not automatically try to encourage or dissuade your mentee, rather, you should help review the opportunity and the reasons for considering leaving, so as to help your mentee test whether this is a good choice.

Why is the relationship confidential?

You are mentoring the individual not the organisation, so whether the CEO reveals the mentoring relationship rests with the CEO. In some mentoring relationships, the CEOs have introduced their mentors to their chairs and/or staff. In others, the relationships are private and not shared with others.

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

We highly recommend that you make the next appointment to meet before you close the current meeting. Sometimes CEOs will only contact their mentors when facing a specific problem but, experience suggests that it is preferable to keep the relationship continuous as this creates maximum benefit. The onus for arranging meetings rests with both parties but if a mentee fails to respond to your suggestion to meet, then this may indicate that the relationship should be drawn to a close. Kilfinan’s Executive Directors can assist if this occurs.