1. Establish expectations and ground rules
When first introduced to the mentee, make them comfortable by explaining your role. Answer any questions they may have about the mentoring process. Point out what you expect of them (e.g. to come prepared with problems to resolve or inquiries to discuss; to show up on time; to treat this as a professional and respectful relationship, etc.). Explain what you’re prepared to do for them: coach, teach, and open relevant doors.
2. Do an informal needs assessment
Ask the mentee what their priorities are in meeting with you. Which aspects of their job or career do they want to know about most? What areas are they hoping to improve in?
3. Listen carefully first, then ask and advise
You may possess all kinds of accumulated wisdom. But a mentee isn’t an empty vessel into which you pour your knowledge. It’s unfair to them if you drone on and on, taken with your own brilliance.
Hear what the mentee has to say before giving your opinion. Query them on their point of view. They bring insights and perspectives which you may not yet appreciate.
4. Let them make their own decisions
The mentor is generally more knowledgeable and experienced than the mentee. It would be easy just to tell the protégé what to do.
Except it would deprive them of thinking through challenges to derive solutions. And it wouldn’t allow them to learn by trial and error. Never mind that, wise as you are, you might not know every answer.
5. Open doors
You have connections your mentee would benefit from. If the protégé shows that they are serious about learning and growing, introduce them to appropriate people in your network.
6. Check your biases and impulses
Hopefully you’ll get to know your mentee reasonably well. Before you do, avoid letting stereotypes distort your impressions. Just like you that person may be different from what’s on the surface.
7. Set goals mutually
At the end of the discussion, set clear and attainable goals for the mentee to work on and achieve. You can also set a time for a follow up call or your feedback on certain work that you have given them to do.