Mentoring Boundaries -When do we have to say STOP in mentoring

Mentoring the 2nd career

Mentoring Boundaries -When do we have to say STOP in mentoring

Are you a mentor who is tired of mentoring ?

“One day, I decided to start mentoring, and I aimed to mentor as well as I possibly could. But I got tired.


We have a goal, but I don’t see the result.


The problem is that in the meeting, we always jump between topics. The Mentee has many vital questions on that day, and I try to help them. Then I realize that the meeting time is almost over, and we haven’t even started talking about the topic that I am mentoring them.

Sometimes I feel that we are talking and talking, but the conversation is going nowhere. And sometimes, the questions are way out of my field. I can give them advice, of course, but is it really what we have to talk about?”


Do you recognize yourself? As a mentor or maybe as a mentee?


During mentor’s supervisions, we hear these stories way too often.

I mainly listen to it often from mentors who are mentoring their first, second, or even third.


If we have a lot of mentoring experience, we slowly understand that mentoring has its boundaries. If we agree on something, we should follow through with it.

Of course, it’s always good to explore other topics if you think it’s required, but it’s best to stop as soon as possible if it isn’t helpful.


Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book ” JUST ONE THING”  would be perfect in the list of recommended to read books for mentors and Mentees.


The problem is that the mentors want to help their mentees in any way they can. That’s why they sometimes understand just after some time that they are making no progress and that they lost their main goal and topic.

For some mentors, it’s uncomfortable to tell the Mentee that this is not their mentoring topic and that they need to find someone else who could help.


No matter how much we want to help our Mentee, it’s important to remember that if you focus on one topic, the results will be way better than covering a tiny bit of multiple issues.


When you focus on one thing, then you can quickly understand the value of mentoring!


One of the challenges the mentors face is putting up boundaries, making deals with the mentees, and following through with those deals.

Also, a mentor must be able to control the conversation, and when they feel that the conversation has changed the topic, they must be able to come back to the original topic.


For the Mentee, it is always important to remember that if they wish to reach a specific point, they often need not one but multiple mentors.

As a mentee, you will change on the journey of mentoring.

That person who could have helped you take your first steps might not be the best mentor for you in the future.

And the other way around. The mentor helping you in the future might not have been good for you at the start.

The benefits of Mentoring

Accredited mentor

The benefits of Mentoring

What can the mentee provide to the Mentor?


One of the mentees’ responsibilities in the mentoring is to work on that both – he and the Mentor – will leave the mentoring with more knowledge than when they met each other.

Yes, yes. That is the responsibility of the mentee as well! Not only to take but also to give!


Here I wish to remind everyone of one point. In the world, there is more than one way of Mentoring. You can read an article about the American and European Mentoring ways on my blog, called” What is Mentoring? Part 2. MENTORING MODELS: AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN.”

In the European model, mutual benefit is heavily emphasized.

And it is not just about that mentoring is an honor, recognition. Or that mentors benefit from mentoring because they review their experience, analyze your situation, dive deep into specific nuances, etc. 

All this is useful. 

But this time, I talk about the fact that the mentoring relationship is intended for the conscious improvement of both.

Mentor’s part

Even if you are an experienced Mentor and a professional in your area, you are encouraged to consider what can this concrete mentoring give you? For example:

–  What can you learn from this specific mentee?

– Or maybe not from the mentee but from the process itself?

– Maybe you want to try a new way, and talking with your mentee is a great fit?

– Or maybe you constantly interrupt others? So the mentoring program would be an excellent way to learn how to listen and not interrupt others!

– Or maybe something else?


Benefits for the Mentor have been taken care of by the mentee

The mentee’s responsibility is to think about his learning, control the mentoring process, and always ask himself questions, how can he be helpful to the Mentor? What can he provide?

The mentee can:

– Share any information that they think could be useful for the Mentor.

– To think about networking possibilities and opportunities. It could be helpful for your Mentor to meet and learn about the people around you.

– Give your Mentor a chance to learn and improve. And it’s easy to do by giving constructive feedback on his mentoring activities and ways. To note to your Mentor what he did, said,  used, which was beneficial to you.

– To provide feedback in every meeting, at the end of every session, also at the end of mentoring.

Or even sometime after your Mentoring. Yes, yes, Exactly!

Many mentors will tell you that those messages and calls from their ex mentees cheer them up! It’s lovely to Mentor to hear about what the mentee did, achieve, what happened after your mentoring connection ended. I strongly encourage you not to forget about it!

– Properly complete the mentoring. Inform and finish your mentoring if your agreed-on time ended, or you feel like you don’t need the mentoring anymore. Either way, meet with your Mentor and celebrate what you both achieved.

– Provide reverse mentoring. Maybe your past experiences in a specific area are exactly what your mentor needs.

 – Etc.

Is the Mentor’s benefit of Mentoring is a responsibility of his mentee as well?

Onboarding training of Mentoring program

Mentoring Process 1

Onboarding training of Mentoring program

Don’t forget the MENTEE!

When you start a mentoring program, do you organize onboarding training for your mentors?

I have almost no doubt that most of you answered YES.



Do you organize onboarding training for your future mentees?

I am sure that a smaller amount of you have said YES.

Why do you need training not only for mentors but also for mentees?

When we talk about mentoring, we often underline the Mentee’s responsibilities and roles in the mentoring.


We say that the Mentee controls the mentoring process:


  • Before mentoring, they evaluate their knowledge, experiences, qualities. They know what they want. They have an idea of how a mentor could help them. Mentees discuss everything they have selected and planned with the mentor and agree on how they will work together.


  • They initiate the meetings. They are that person who writes, calls, plan, and so on.


  • They arrive at the meetings ready. It means they have situations they want to talk about and have questions they want to ask. And they did the homework that they planed on in the previous meeting.


  • They take action. Mentee doesn’t meet they mentor to chat. During or after the meeting, the Mentee makes their own decisions (not the mentor) and then acts.


  • Mentees have to reflect on their and the mentor’s activity (How everything went? What you both agreed on? What was especially useful? What do you have to do next? etc.)


  • Mentees look for opportunities how they could help the mentor. One way to achieve this is to give the mentor feedback.



It seems evident to us, but do they know?

It’s why Mentees need onboarding training. Like that, they know what they have to do and what they can expect from mentoring. For example:



– How long will the mentoring take?


– What should they expect from the mentor?


– What is a mentee’s responsibilities and their roles in the mentoring?


– What are the goals of the organization that is organizing the mentoring program?


– Who can they contact if they need help?


– Etc.

! ! ! ! !

My own experiences auditing existing mentoring programs in organizations and interviewing mentors, mentees, program managers, and colleagues show the Mentees’ lack of onboarding training.



Maybe you would like to say that your organization has prepared a tutorial, booklet, or document for Mentees with the information needed? It’s a great tool, but it isn’t enough. They need to have a space to discuss what they read or heard about and figure out the nuances.




Training for mentees is also often precisely this field where organizations have to improve if they wish to accredit their mentoring programs (several Mentoring Associations perform a mentoring program’s accreditation).

When you try to achieve successful mentoring, do you give all of the tools to the mentor and the Mentee?

How did I ruin my first mentee?!

different way mentor mentee

How did I ruin my first mentee?!

Unsuccessful mentoring

The authorship of this phrase does not belong to me. One evening at a cozy mentoring club, a member of that club, who is an experienced mentor, promised to write an article. Having exactly this title. Only one word was different. The original name was supposed to be “How did I ruin my first newcomer?“.  Because in that organization, as in many others, only newcomers were mentored.  For a variety of reasons, that article remained unwritten. That’s a pity. Although I am still waiting for that article.

To be fair, it was worth mentioning that that article had to be humorous. Thought – fun tips on what better not to do when you become a mentor!


Well, can I ruin my mentee? Well, maybe not ruin him, but make his life more complicated you really can.  

Unsuccessful mentoring.

Mentoring relationships can also be harmful. For a mentor, mentee, or both. And then there is no benefit to the organization from mentoring.

This is confirmed by both the researchers and my own experience. As a manager, I had to deal with a difficult relationship between a new employee and a mentor.

When assigning a mentor, certain criteria are always followed. The aim is for them to fit each other as much as possible, not only as professionals, but also as personalities. Well, as far as possible.

However, in my practice (as a program manager who formed a mentoring pair according to certain criteria), it has happened that the mentee avoided contact with his mentor whenever he could. Not because the mentor was unprofessional or unwilling to help. No. Just the personalities were extremely different. Attitudes were extremely different. And as a result, in this kind of situation, we no longer think about the benefits that mentoring can bring us.

How to behave in such a situation?

As in all other difficult situations. We need to talk first.

If this does not resolve the situation, then it is recommended that such a relationship be terminated. There is nothing wrong with that.

This is not to say that either of the two is unprofessional or has done something wrong. They just didn’t fit each other.   

After all, in life it happens that we meet people who are both great and benevolent and lovely, well, but for some reason we don’t go out to communicate with them and that’s all. Sometimes you meet an amazing expert in your field, but the way he communicates is not right for you. The same thing happens in mentoring.

Each case is individual.

In the case I mentioned earlier, mentoring, although difficult because of the relationship, continued at the request of the mentee. He did not want his mentoring to be stopped because he thought it would be more difficult for him later to communicate with his mentor who is his colleague as well. Mentee refused to speak openly with the mentor for the same reason. He just wanted to stay in it all as much as agreed and that’s all.

However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t talk to the mentor myself. We talked more than once about how he sees the situation. We discussed the reasons why he could behave differently. What he should learn when planning another mentoring himself?

 Well, I was lucky because the mentor was the one who was able to accept criticism, acknowledge certain traits of his personality, and had enough of a desire to change something in it.

Feedback to the mentor is always important.  It requires only to consider how and when to present.

What if I, mentee, chose a mentor myself?

In the case I described, I was this third person in the mentoring process who appointed a mentor and who monitored the process. Because it all happened in the organization.

But what should I do if I chose a mentor myself?

I asked him to mentor me and after a few meetings I realized that something was completely wrong.

Or vice versa? I agreed to be a mentor, but now I regret it.

Or mentee’s and my expectations are completely different from what they seemed at first.

 Or maybe I’m annoyed by the mentee’s behavior?

What do I do?

You will have to talk.  

The talking won’t be easy. The situation is uncomfortable. But it’s necessary to do.

To make it easier, it is recommended to prepare well for it. As with any difficult conversation.  

Did you find yourself in a situation where you had to stop mentoring or sit down and talk with your mentee or mentor? What is your experience in that?  

Send your thoughts in these two ways.


Accredited mentor




When I went to my friend’s website, I suddenly noticed a post about the similarities and differences between a mentor and a coach.

 I even stopped after reading one of those differences. It has been written that coaches are accredited and mentors are not… NOT TRUE!

Paradoxically, it was at that time that I was preparing the documents for my accreditation as a Mentor…. So I got annoyed.


What organization cares about accreditation of mentors?

My dear ones, for your information – mentors, as well as coaching specialists are accredited. This is taken care of by the European Coaching and Mentoring Council (EMCC).

How to become an accredited mentor?

To become an accredited mentor, you will need to provide evidence that your mentoring practice meets certain professional standards. They reflect both the competencies of the mentor and the methods used, the constant reflection of his activities and participation in supervision, professional development, i.e. participation in trainings, existing experience, work done in the field of mentoring, the mentor’s contribution to the professional growth of the mentoring community, etc.

EIA (European Individual Accreditation) confirms the qualification of a mentor. There are four different levels of accreditation.

How to choose a Mentor?

I notice trends that it is now becoming fashionable to be a mentor. It is one of the marketing tools. I just add the suffix “Mentor” to the names of my other activities and it’s like I’m rising to a higher level, because I’m keeping pace with fashion.

If this will help spread the contagion of mentoring and the understanding that mentoring is extremely beneficial to both organizations and each of us, it will be great.

 On the other hand, it is crucial that we choose where it is just a nice note, and where the mentor perceives and strives to meet the standards set for mentoring activities.

So let’s know that mentors are accredited and by choosing an accredited mentor we can expect a professional in their field. And then, probably, we will be able to not only rejoice that we have mentoring in the organization or that I have a mentor, but also to get the results of mentoring.

Good luck discovering the benefits of mentoring and choosing a mentor.

Latter I will write other tips that will help you to choose a mentor and to benefit from mentoring!

Did you know that exist accreditation of mentors?

Are you interested in?

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