Navigating the Mentorship

Time with your IA mentor is meant to provide you valuable insight and guidance for your leadership development. To maximize the value from this component, we encourage you to adequately prepare for each session ahead of time.

See the chart below for three steps to discuss with your mentor throughout the mentorship. We recommend that you complete these three steps in order. 

Mentorship sessions

Business challenge overview

  1. Unpack your SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) completed as part of your Business Challenge Assessment worksheet.
  2. Discuss what has been done so far to address the problem and your goals for the sessions.
  3. Identify ways your mentor can help you address your challenges.

Problem-solution strategies

  1. Seek feedback on your solution or problem-solving approach.
  2. Test assumptions or find knowledge gaps.
  3. Ask for resources for further development.

Post-mentorship preparedness

  1. Review final plan and discuss final feedback.
  2. Ask for advice on your strengths and weaknesses from their perspective.
  3. Say goodbye and discuss how you might keep in touch!

Overview & guidance for mentorship sessions

Step 1: Understand your challenge and build your relationship

Prior to your first meeting with your mentor, be sure to complete and review your Business Challenge Assessment worksheet and prepare yourself to walk your mentor through your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This step is crucial for them to get to know you and help you explore solutions to the specific challenges you are facing in your business.

Take advantage of this session to understand where your mentor can use their experience and expertise to complement your goals and plans. Take time to build rapport and establish a trusting and honest connection. Use this session to give your mentor an authentic introduction to who you are and where you are with your business. You don’t have to live up to a perfect profile! This is a chance to be transparent with the challenges you are facing in your business and leadership and how you aspire to grow. Get to know your mentor and identify ways that they can be most helpful to your growth.

Step 2: Define the solution to your business challenge

The 5 Cs can help you facilitate the problem-solution strategies process. Don’t let this tool impede your communication or flow — this is a useful framework to keep in mind as you navigate through the session.

  • Challenges – Unpack the problem and specific challenges involved.
  • Choices – Explore the possible options available to tackle the challenges.
  • Consequences – Identify the consequences of each option, both positives and negatives.
  • Creative solutions – Discuss unconventional ways of addressing the challenge.
  • Conclusions – Decide on the most appropriate path based on the analysis and discussion.

Remember, mentors are not there to solve the problems for you. They can provide feedback and guidance that can serve you when you start implementing your solutions after the mentorship. It is often more valuable to learn how they think about problem-solving than it is about asking them to help you solve the problem. As time goes on, you can revisit your ideas and share how your ideas have evolved since your first meeting.

The following are some helpful questions to ask yourself in preparation for this step:

  • Have I reassessed my goals since starting the mentorship?
  • Do I have any changes to make to my goals?
  • How do I imagine an effective mentor/mentee partnership?
  • How do I want my mentor to support me in refining and meeting my goals?

Step 3: Prepare for your post-mentorship action plan

Invite your mentor to offer feedback on your development through the weekly meetings and be open to hear about their thoughts on your strengths and weaknesses and ways you can continue to grow. Provide some closure in celebration of your time together and an opportunity to discuss the mentorship in a positive, fun way. While not a formal part of the experience, you and your mentor may make plans to follow up on progress or check in with each other once the formal process is complete.

Additional resources