4 Effective Ways to Build Trust in a Mentoring Relationship


As a mentor and manager, it may often seem hard to counsel your mentees and/or direct reports effectively. Your goal is to become a truly impactful and empowering advisor, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.


When aiming to create successful mentoring relationships from the beginning, there is something you can’t underestimate – the importance of building trust.


Without trust, your mentees won’t feel safe to share their thoughts, experiences, and feelings. This in turn prevents them from benefitting entirely from your guidance, support, and value-added expertise based on your own career path.


Simply put, your time and efforts as a mentor will amplify if you are perceived as a trusted counsel.


Below, we provide insightful advice on how to build trust in 4 simple steps.


1) Understand Your Why


Knowing your WHY inspires you to show up at your best and offer value-added feedback and stories. With the hectic pace of life, you may find the relationship uncomfortable or ask yourself “why am I doing this”. Therefore, knowing what is fueling you as a mentor will help you sustain momentum.  


When you are more invested and enthusiastic about the relationship, your mentees will be too. At the end of the day, it is up to you to model the leadership behaviour of enthusiasm and dedication for them.


To better support your foundation as a mentor and help you guide your mentees, we have created a step-by-step Discussion Guide on How to Be an Ideal Mentor, which can be downloaded here for FREE.


You’ll be surprised to discover how knowing your WHY can unlock your potential as a mentor. Mentorship is a two-way street relationship and identifying your personal objectives as well as what’s in it for you is the first step to creating a successful mentoring relationship based on trust. 


2) Align on Rules of Engagement 


Establishing in advance the desired culture of your mentoring relationship is crucial to creating a psychologically safe environment.


Unmet expectations are a relationship killer. So, in your first mentorship meeting, have a candid conversation around expectations with your mentee. Some questions to consider:


What are the behaviours you want vs. don’t want? For example: want confidentiality and trust; want to discuss personal matters too (or not); don’t want gossip or criticism without practical feedback; etc.


What are your specific goals and objectives for this relationship? Discuss this from the mentor and mentee side. Your mentee might be seeking specific skills, connections with people in your network, or for you to be a point of reference to bounce ideas and help navigate challenges.


Another important conversation that is worth having at the beginning of the relationship relates to the frequency and location of your mentee-mentor meetings. How often will you be having a touchpoint? Should it be in person or via Zoom?


You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how determining these “rules of engagement and communication” right away will result in a smoother mentoring relationship.


So, regardless of the specific details you’ll be agreeing on, make sure your mentees have a clear idea of the support they can expect from you. This will also help them find the courage to ask for what they need during the relationship. 


3) Set Clear Goals


Establishing short and long-term goals is the first step in determining how you can add value to your mentees’ career, and it's necessary for you to measure success along the way. 


This is why one of the most important mentor-mentee conversations explores what you want to achieve together. However, mentees should also be invited to think about their career aspirations and objectives before discussing them with their mentor.


Mentors should then play a critical role in:


-          Helping mentees clarify and prioritize certain goals 

-          Laying out what actionable steps can be taken

-          Setting a reasonable timeline

-          Establishing ways to measure success

-          Keeping monitoring progress and revising goals when necessary


At Mentorship Moment, we have taught mentors and leaders how to increase their effectiveness by adopting a clear strategy. Throughout their journey, many have recognized that, although a less “structured” mentoring relationship may be seen easier initially, having a clear action plan to follow is critical to driving better results.

An equally important benefit is the trust that gets built when the mentor and mentee collaborate to create and achieve milestones together. At the end of the day, you will go further faster if you do it together.


4) Be Intentional in How You Show Up


And last but not least, mentors should focus on certain behaviours to continue building trust throughout their mentoring relationships.


As experts in the industry, we recommend embodying the following:


Actively listen Although you will probably have more experience than your mentees, create a safe space where they feel seen and heard. Offer plenty of time for them to express their thoughts and opinions in a judgement free zone.


Be approachable Responding to their requests and putting your mentees at ease when they reach out will help them feel more engaged and connected.


Be vulnerable & share – Sharing your mistakes, failures, missed goals, and weaknesses will remind your mentees that everyone is human and that it's ok to make mistakes. We often learn the power of resiliency by hearing other people’s stories of how they have bounced back from challenges. 


Challenge your mentees to see what they don’t yet see in themselves – You can be a powerful coach by articulating what they can’t see or gently pushing them before they feel totally ready. This will help them understand you truly care about their path forward and are willing to support them in a variety of ways. 


Unfortunately, there is no successful mentoring relationship without trust. Are you ready to develop and improve your mentoring skills? Find out how you can become an epic, trusted, and Certified Mentor from the comfort of your home.


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