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Effective Mentor Conversation Starters

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If you are a mentor, you will find that having efficient conversations with your mentees is an integral part to leading them to success in their careers. In this article, I have compiled a list of good conversation starters mentors should use when speaking with their mentees.

What are your short and long-term goals? This is, in my opinion, the most important conversation starter. It is really hard for a person to be successful and grow as an employee if they do not have clearly-defined and measurable goals.

What should we expect from each other?  In any mentoring relationship, it is important to establish expectations.  If you and your mentee are not on the same page, there will be communication issues throughout the mentoring process. In order for there to be some cohesion, you need to ask what your mentee expects from you, and clearly define what you expect from them.

What skills do you feel you need to improve most? In order to help your mentee become a well-rounded employee, you should determine what your mentee’s weaknesses are and which skills they need to develop most.

How well do you handle critical feedback? Asking your mentee how they deal with criticism will give you a sense of how coachable and growth-oriented they are. Teach them that criticism is ideally meant to help them grow as a person.

These conversation starters listed can help you kick-start your mentor/mentee relationship. The aforementioned topics will get your mentee on the right track to success.


Alison Martin

Written by

Alison Martin is the Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Diverse Talent Strategies, a family of brands offering turn-key solutions for mentoring, women’s leadership initiatives, and recruitment. With roughly 15 years in nonprofit work, Alison has a passion for doing work that makes a difference in the lives of others. After serving as Executive Director at two different national nonprofit organizations, her commitment to her passion for developing female talent led her launch Mentoring Women’s Network. In her role, Alison acts as a liaison to a national committee responsible for the leadership development content for the organization and consults with corporations on the development and strategy aligned with initiatives for emerging female leaders. She is also the author of the book, “Landing on My Feet: Learning to Lead Through Mentoring” and speaks regularly on behalf of the organization

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