The 60-minute mentor meeting: 4 items to cover each quarter[wtr-time]
Consistent touch points are an essential part of every effective mentorship. In this article, we outline 4 topics to cover in your quarterly mentor meetings — plus how to prepare and questions to ask.
Study after study continue to tout the benefits of mentorship programs.
- A CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey found that 90% of workers who have a career mentor are happy in their job.
- A study by Sun Microsystems found that mentees were promoted 5 times more than those who didn’t have mentors, and the benefits were even greater for the mentors — who were promoted 6 times more often than others.
- A Randstad study found a 49% reduction in turnover for employees who participated in mentorship.
It’s impossible to deny the many benefits of mentorship.
But not all mentorships work. And one of the keys to a good mentor/mentee relationship is having consistent touchpoints. Quarterly mentor meetings are a great way to build and maintain the ongoing relationship. In this article, we’ll go over:
- What is a mentor meeting?
- How do you prepare for a one-on-one mentor meeting?
- How often should you meet with your mentor/mentee?
- What to add to your mentor meeting agenda (+ question examples)
- Hypercontext’s quarterly mentor meeting agenda template
What is a mentor meeting?
Mentorship meetings are the cornerstone of a mentor/mentee relationship.
It’s a time to meet one-on-one and get to know one another, chat about career questions, share advice or knowledge, and solve problems. They’re a bit like professional counselling sessions with a trusted other, often in your industry and perhaps even within your organization as part of your company’s employee development program.
One-on-one mentorship meetings may occur on any schedule, but, like anything in life, they’re most effective when they happen consistently.
While mentorship meetings are typically on the less formal side, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare. Far from it. You’ll only see the benefits of mentorship when both parties put time and effort into the relationship. Let’s explore what preparing for your mentor meeting looks like. 👇
How to prepare for a one-on-one mentor meeting
Preparation for a one-on-one mentor meeting isn’t only about making the most out of your time together (although that’s a huge factor). It’s also about showing respect for each other’s time. Here’s how:
🔍 Do some background research
If it’s your first time meeting, come prepared with a general knowledge of the other’s professional background. While, of course, you’ll be able to find out more in the meeting itself, it’s helpful to have some background knowledge going in so you can ask the right questions.
⚡️ Align on purpose
In addition to doing your research, it’s also imperative to both arrive on the same page about the purpose of the meeting.
Mentees, start by thinking through the purpose of the meeting in advance. What would you like to gain? What would a successful meeting look like? Share your goals for the meeting with your mentor beforehand. Here’s an example:
The purpose of this meeting is to outline the steps I should take to secure an upcoming promotion I’m interested in. My goal is to leave this meeting with a better sense of the steps I should take to better position myself for growth at my company.”
Then, welcome input from your mentor so you can ensure you’re aligned.
💻 Create and share an agenda
Once you’ve outlined the purpose, create an agenda with specific items to cover.
Unless otherwise discussed, it’s typically the mentee’s responsibility to put together the agenda for the meeting. Ryan Carruthers of Together Platform explains:
“Mentees need to own the relationship. Don’t expect the mentor to come to a meeting without any context and be able to deliver value to you. Consider what you want to discuss ahead of time. Send your mentor anything they need to know about the goal or idea you’d like to discuss at least 1 day—preferably 2-3 days—before you meet. This will give the mentor a chance to think it through and show up prepared.”– Ryan Carruthers, Together Platform
It’s important to not only create an agenda but also share it with your mentor in advance. This will give them the opportunity to contribute their own items and thoughts, and come prepared with thoughtful answers and helpful resources.
So while the mentee typically ‘owns’ the agenda, both parties need to come prepared and put in upfront work for an effective mentor meeting.
All this being said, remember it’s a conversation. Kirsti McNabey, Growth Marketer at Circuit, reminds us:
“ It’s important to be prepared for what you want to discuss. Think about the questions in advance so you can make sure you maximize the benefits of your meeting. But at the same time you don’t want to be too rigid about it. Be open to having conversations flow to get the most out of your time together.”Kirsti McNabey, Circuit
How often should you meet with your mentor/mentee?
Life gets busy. How often you have a mentor meeting is up to the two of you and what your schedules allow. But you shouldn’t leave meetings up to chance. If you take that approach, you’ll simply never meet. Instead, establish a reliable cadence for meetings that works best for both of you.
A great way to ensure you don’t let the meeting fall off your radar is to book your next meeting before you end your previous one. That way, even if you don’t communicate between the meetings, you already have something on the calendar.
Our advice? Try to meet at least quarterly.
4 items to add to your quarterly mentor meeting agenda
So what do you put on your mentor meeting agenda? While specific talking points will vary each quarter, we’ve outlined some top-level topics to cover each meeting below.
1. Life update
Consider this item somewhat of an icebreaker. Find out what’s new in your mentor/mentee’s life. Over time, these small conversations will help improve your rapport and deepen your relationship. It’s always good to know what’s going on with each other, both personally and professionally.
✨ Question examples:
- What’s something you’re really jazzed about outside of work?
- How was your weekend?
- What’s new since we last spoke?
- What are you excited about right now?
2. Networking opportunities
It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. Okay, it’s probably about both, but the sentiment stands. Who you know matters.
Your mentor’s been in your respective field for longer than you have and likely knows a lot more people. How did they grow their network? Are there valuable industry events to attend or groups to join? Is there anyone they feel comfortable introducing you to? Leverage your mentor’s professional network.
Contrary to what some may think, network sharing is a two-way street. While perhaps not as extensive, mentees also have their own networks that may be useful for their mentor. For example, what if they’re looking to hire or will be down the road? They’ll need introductions.
✨ Question examples:
- Do you have any networking advice?
- Are there any networking groups you think I should join?
- Who do you think I can learn the most from?
- Is there anyone you can introduce me to that could help me with X?
- Is there anyone you recommend following on LinkedIn?
3. Professional challenges
Everyone experiences professional challenges. And it’s likely that your mentor’s been in your shoes, or similar shoes, before. If you’re in a tricky situation or experiencing obstacles, your regular meeting is a good time to ask your mentor’s advice.
Perhaps you’re looking for guidance on how to resign, giving constructive feedback to your boss, or advice on being a first-time manager.
If there’s nothing in particular you need advice about, it’s a good time to ask your mentor about some professional roadblocks they’ve overcome. These stories will help you either avoid the same challenges down the road or navigate them effectively when they do arise.
✨ Question examples:
- How can I get more involved in workplace culture?
- What do you do to avoid burnout?
- After a failure, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
- What were some challenges you faced in X position?
👉 For more inspiration, check out our list of 121 one-on-one questions.
4. Next meeting
Before you wrap up your mentor meeting, do a quick review of any items that you committed to and then book your next meeting.
Mentors may also want to consider assigning a mini ‘assignment’ based on your conversation. Ryan explains,
“[…] if you’re working on developing a particular skillset with your mentee, give them mini assignments between sessions […] Doing so will hold them accountable to come to the next session with an update. This is how change happens. Small practices like this are what separates successful mentoring relationships that lead to meaningful change and monthly meetings where you just catch up.”– Ryan Carruthers, Together Platform
Pro tip: Consider using one-on-one meeting software between your quarterly mentor meetings to stay connected, accountable and continue your career development asynchronously.
To develop an effective mentor/mentee relationship, you need to meet consistently and show up prepared. Try Hypercontext’s mentor meeting agenda template to get the most out of your meetings.