Finding the right way to articulate your job-related questions can help you make the most of your time with a mentor who has agreed to guide you in your career. You can do this by identifying a list of important topics for discussion ahead of your meeting time with your mentor. Similarly, if you are a mentor, knowing how to structure a meeting to provide the best advice to your mentee is equally important because they’re trusting you for sound guidance.
In this article, we discuss possible mentoring topics that can be addressed from both the mentor and mentee perspectives, to guide the direction of a meeting with each other.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is an individual who acts as an adviser or coach for a less experienced or advanced mentee, providing expertise and knowledge from a more experienced perspective. At the core of the relationship, a mentor is available to offer advice, provide support, and answer questions. Mentees often learn from this relationship, and mentors frequently benefit from acting as trusted advisers.
What are mentoring topics?
Mentoring topics are items of importance that can be discussed during a meeting between a mentor and a mentee. Well-structured topics of discussion can help mentees come up with creative solutions to workplace problems, identify areas for personal improvement and cultivate new business strategies to reflect changes in their industry.
Types of mentoring topics
Many topics can be discussed between a mentor and a mentee to yield helpful results, even after your initial meetings. The following list reviews a few of these areas to help you cultivate your own refreshed topics of conversation.
Mentees to mentors
Here are some topics for mentees to initiate with their mentors:
1. Skill-related topics
Discussing skill-related topics is a great way to spend time with your mentor. Consider bringing up the skill areas they already possess that you wish you could develop and improve. For example, if you’ve just been hired in a managerial role requiring public speaking, of which you have minimal experience, talk with your mentor about your reservations and ask for tips on delivering a good speech.
How can I improve my public speaking skills?
What do you think are my three best skills?
What skill areas do you think I could improve in?
What skills do you think are the most beneficial to have in my current position?
2. Career story topics
Another way to cultivate new mentoring topics is to talk with your mentor about their personal career journey. Get their insights on what the industry was like when they first started, how they traversed through the company to the role they currently hold, or what lessons they learned at the start of their career.
What was your first industry job?
How did you reach the position you are currently in?
Do you have any regrets about your career choices?
Did you ever make a mistake in a job and how did you come back from it?
3. Feedback topics
Feedback can be used as a constructive method for improvement and for this reason, it is a great topic of discussion during a meeting with your mentor. To help you grow professionally, you must get your mentor’s insights on your current work performance, a project you managed, a written report or a presentation you gave at a company event.
Allow your mentor to offer you constructive feedback and take notes on what improvements you could make and what areas you executed well.
How would you rate my presentation at last week’s board meeting?
Do you think I am ready to apply for an internal promotion?
How do you think others perceive me in my new role?
What changes would you make to my memo?
4. Situational advice topics
You can also use the time spent with your mentor to get their perspective on an issue you have been facing within your professional life. This type of mentoring topic can be used repeatedly to help you address immediate questions you might have about your job and its responsibilities.
How should I handle downsizing in my department?
I am having trouble getting a team member to submit assignments on time. How do I proactively address this?
How can I inspire my department to meet its quarterly targets?
How do I ask my boss for a raise?
Mentors to mentees
Here are some topics for mentors to initiate with their mentees:
1. Career path topics
During the first few meetings with your mentee, ask them questions about their desired career path and additional questions that make them think about how their current position either does or does not align with that path.
This can be helpful to your mentee and also help you better understand the guidance and direction they need. It might become important to evaluate their desired career path further to see if their career goals change.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What made you apply for this role? How does it align with your long-term plan?
Are you happy in your current role?
What is your dream job, or do you feel you’ve achieved it?
2. Leadership topics
Suppose you have a mentee who recently entered a leadership position within a company. In that case, this can be a topic of discussion to help them cultivate their unique leadership style and address any concerns they might have about their new role.
How are you adjusting to your new role?
Do you have any reservations about your responsibilities?
What methods are you using to communicate effectively with your team?
What are three words you’d use to describe your leadership style?
3. Long- and short-term goal topics
At the start of your professional mentorship, you should discuss your mentee’s long- and short-term goals in their current position. You can also ask them questions about what their ambitions are within the company. After helping them brainstorm ideas, work with them to create an individual development plan (IDP) that addresses a series of career aspirations. You can use this plan to help your mentee segment their goals into manageable steps.
What goals do you want to achieve within the next month?
What quantitative goals do you want to achieve within six months?
How do you measure your success?
What other roles would you be interested in within the company?
4. Company-related topics
Talking to your mentee about your company’s policies and culture could be useful for discussion, especially if they are new to your company or want to apply for internal promotions. Ask if they have any questions about the company, its values, key stakeholders, company environment, or growth opportunities. This could generate an ongoing conversation and could help your mentee better understand the company and how to perceive their role within it.
How would you define the company culture? Does it resonate with you?
How do you see your role benefiting the company?
What areas do you think could be improved through your role?
I hope you find this article helpful.