Navigating Key Concerns for Mentors and Effective Strategies

Mentoring is a journey of mutual learning and growth, benefiting both the mentee and the mentor. Mentors aim to provide value, foster open communication, and inspire action. However, moments of uncertainty may arise about our impact, difficulties in engaging in meaningful discussions, and challenges in motivating mentees to take action. This blog post delves into the feelings mentors may encounter and offers practical strategies to navigate these challenges effectively.

Concern 1: “How do I know if I am adding value as a mentor?”

As mentors, we seek to grow and improve through the experience, and it’s important to know if we are genuinely helping our mentees. Getting feedback is crucial. If you’re unsure whether you are adding value, asking the right questions can help you determine your impact.

Here are some ideas for questions you could ask your mentee:

  • What were your takeaways from our session?
  • How do you feel about your progress towards your goals?
  • Are there specific areas where you feel our mentoring sessions have helped you grow or improve?
  • How relevant do you find our discussions to your current challenges and goals?
  • Is there anything you expected to gain from this mentoring relationship that you haven’t yet experienced?
  • What aspects of our mentoring sessions do you find most valuable?
  • Is there anything we do in our sessions that you find less useful or think could be improved?

You don’t need to ask all these questions at once. Consider asking one question per session to keep the feedback process manageable and ongoing.

Concern 2: “I feel like I am running out of things to discuss with my mentee”

If you feel like you’ve run out of things to discuss with your mentee, it might seem like your mentorship relationship has run its course. However, don’t assume this too early. You may have simply reached the conclusion of one topic or focus area, and it’s time to explore new areas of focus.

Here are some strategies to manage this situation and keep the conversations engaging and productive:

  • Regularly review and update goals and progress to identify fresh topics for discussion.
  • Expand the conversation to include broader professional skills and personal development.
  • Conduct feedback sessions to uncover new areas of interest or concern.
  • Assist your mentee in developing a professional growth plan, pinpointing skills and knowledge areas for future focus.
  • Engage in reflective conversations about past experiences to extract valuable lessons and insights.

Concern 3: “I feel like my mentee isn’t opening up”

When a mentee isn’t fully opening up, as a mentor you can feel like you’re talking around what really needs to be addressed. Knowing how to get to the root of the matter can be challenging. To encourage deeper engagement, consider these approaches:

  • Foster a safe and supportive environment where the mentee feels comfortable sharing openly.
  • Use open-ended questions to promote in-depth discussions.
  • Practice active listening to demonstrate your understanding and interest.
  • Reflect on and summarize the conversations to ensure mutual understanding.
  • Directly address any perceived barriers to open communication.
  • Implement structured exercises, such as a professional development plan, to facilitate more meaningful discussions.

Building a truly open and trusting mentoring relationship can take time. Patience, consistency, and genuine care from your side can eventually lead to more openness and meaningful conversations.

Concern 4: “My mentee isn’t taking action on what we discuss in our meetings”

If you sense that your mentee isn’t making progress between sessions, it may lead to feelings of an unproductive relationship and self-doubt about your effectiveness as a mentor. However, this perception doesn’t always reflect reality. Learning and change often require time to manifest, and the impact of mentorship might take 12, 24, or even more months to fully materialize. This delayed realisation is fairly common, as significant insights or shifts developed during the mentoring process can take time to be integrated and applied by the mentee. Here are some strategies to help to understand why your mentee isn’t taking immediate action and how you can adapt your approach:

  • Clarify Expectations: Discuss and define the level of accountability your mentee desires. Establish clear expectations for actions between sessions, ensuring they align with the mentee’s goals.
  • Explore the Reasons: Engage in open discussions to uncover why the mentee has not taken action. Factors could include a lack of motivation, unclear objectives, feelings of being overwhelmed, or not recognizing the value of tasks.
  • Provide Support and Resources: Identify any barriers to action and collaboratively find solutions. Offer the necessary support and resources to facilitate task completion.
  • Reassess Motivation and Commitment: Regularly evaluate the mentee’s drive and dedication to their goals, as a lack of action may indicate a shift in priorities or objectives.
  • Be Open to Feedback: Solicit feedback on your mentoring style and remain adaptable to modify your approach to better meet the mentee’s needs and learning preferences.


Mentorship is a dynamic and reciprocal relationship that demands ongoing adaptation and learning. By addressing these common challenges with thoughtful strategies, mentors can enhance the mentorship experience, ensuring both the mentor and mentee find the engagement fulfilling and growth-oriented. Remember, the essence of mentoring lies in the journey of mutual discovery and shared successes.


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