Link Overview:


The Professions...


What the...
mentoring program is, what is is not...

Benefits of a
Mentor/Protege Relationship...

The Mentoring

and Definitions...

Mentoring Styles

Attributes, Skills
and Functions of an Effective Mentor...

Attributes of a
Receptive Protege...

The Mentoring

Important Issues

A. Source
B. Activities
C. The Mentoring Contract

Important Issues

The open, trusting nature of a good mentoring relationship brings with it a number of important issues. Simply being aware of these issues is often sufficient to ensure that they do not evolve into problems. Some of the most common mentor - protégé issues are summarized here.


A good mentoring relationship promotes trust and open, honest, meaningful communication. The danger is that this relationship may be interpreted as a more intimate one by either of the participants or an outside observer. This can lead to spousal jealousy, office gossip or hurt feelings. It is important to be aware of these possible pitfalls and guard against them.


Mentoring relationships between men and women can be subject to some unique complications. Men tend to value hierarchical relationships, where as women tend to emphasize co-operative efforts. Men and women often communicate with different speech patterns that can be an impediment to mentor - protégé communication. Either of the participants may be unsure of what is appropriate behaviour with the opposite sex, and there is always the possibility of office gossip. All of these issues are manageable if addressed early in the mentoring relationship.

Differences in Culture

While this often refers to differences in personal culture, it can also be applied to differences in professional or corporate culture. The mentor and protégé must both be aware of these differences and respect them. Differences in corporate culture are especially important when the mentor and protégé do not work for the same employer. In that situation, the mentor must be sure to take into account those differences when dispensing advice.


In order for a mentoring relationship to succeed, it must be completely confidential. This is especially important when the participants work for different organizations. Any information that either the mentor or protégé receives about the other organization must be kept confidential, and not relayed to their co-workers or exploited for personal gain. Before a cross-organizational mentoring relationship is established, both participants should fully disclose their intentions to their respective employers. It is important to remember that a mentoring relationship does not exist for technical reasons. Its purpose is to aid the protégé in developing other soft skills such as communication skills, management skills and an understanding of the societal impact of practicing the professions. Any technical content should be at the most, a very minor component of the relationship.


When a mentoring relationship exists in the same organization or same department of a larger organization, the potential for favoritism exists. For this reason, mentoring relationships inside the same organizational unit are not recommended. If a mentoring relationship is established inside the same organizational unit, the mentor must guard against inequity. This inequity could either favour or disfavour their protégé.


The purpose of a mentoring relationship is for the mentor to facilitate the protégé's development by means of the mentor's greater experience. It is not for the mentor to mold their protégé into a duplicate of themselves. Each protégé must be allowed to develop in his/her own way. A mentor can make suggestions on what might best be accomplished but the final decision must be left to the protégé.

Terminating the Relationship

This important issue needs to be discussed early in a mentoring relationship. How will the participants know when the relationship has reached its conclusion and should be ended? How will the relationship be ended? Clear, early definition of this issue will ensure that there are no guilty or hurt feelings on either part when the relationship does end.

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