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Mentoring Activities

Mentoring Activities: Powerful Ways to Make Mentoring More Meaningful

by | Jun 3, 2024 | By Karin Hurt and David Dye |

Structured mentoring activities to jump-start a new mentoring relationship or take an established one to the next level

“Will you be my mentor?”

“Sure.”

“Um. Hmmm. Now what do we do?”

“What should we talk about?”

“Where do we start?”

It’s great when mentoring relationships evolve organically. The chemistry is just perfect and the conversation flows.

We’ve been on both sides of great mentoring relationships. Sometimes the conversation is all you need. And sometimes, it can be helpful to have some specific activities to structure your interaction.

If you are a mentor (or mentee) looking for ideas to jump-start or re-ignite your work together, here are a few proven mentoring activities to get you started.

7 Proven Mentoring Activities

You could start by sharing this list with your mentor (or mentee) and decide together which mentoring activities would have the biggest impact. That’s a little meta:  A mentoring activity about mentoring activities 😉

1. Create a mentoring charter

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know how much we believe in clarity as foundational to teamwork. This clarity applies to mentoring too.

Many mentoring experts advocate for a formal written charter. If that feels like a lot for you, don’t sweat. What’s important is to talk about expectations, and not to assume you’re on the same page.

For example:

  • What does success look like?
    • One way to do this is to ask,  “Imagine it’s six months from now. What’s different because of our work together?
    • How will we measure our progress?
  • Define your roles
    • Start with logistics– who will set up the meetings, and take notes?
    • Is there a reverse mentoring component to your relationship? How will you both benefit from your work together?
  • Establish norms or commitments to one another
    •  “We will show up on time,” or “We promise to keep our conversations confidential.”
    • How frequently will you meet? For how long? How long do you anticipate the formal relationship to go?

2. Career Discussions

SynergyStack Team Collaboration SystemIt probably won’t take long before the  “What do you want to do next? conversation comes up in your mentoring conversations. And, and when it does, we’ve got you. Our Developmental Discussion Planner frames the conversation for you.

If you’re the mentor, ask your mentee to fill this out, before you have the conversation. If you’re the mentee looking for career advice from your mentor, take the initiative to prepare.

The  Discussion Planner provides prompts to consider your current role, and desired future roles. It’s a great way to jump start and focus your conversation.

Our new SynergyStack System also offers activities that help you identify your strengths and opportunities, as well as habits to build on as you grow your career.

3. Speed Skills Exchange

Identify one competency or skill you admire in the other person and hold a mini-tutoring session.

I (Karin) have a reciprocal “mentoring” relationship with a thought leader and author about twenty-five years my senior. We love our jam sessions where I offer tips and tricks on social media marketing and AI. She helps me consider broader distribution strategies and makes introductions to other gurus in our field.

4. Book Club

Every time we write a book, we carefully consider mentoring activities and discussions to go with it.

If you’re looking for ways to de-stress your workday and build better collaboration, you might read our new book, Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. We’ve made this easy to read together with FREE activities in our Workplace Conflict and Collaboration Center.

If you’re interested in building great cultures where people speak up and share their ideas, this article gives you many options to make the most of reading Courageous Cultures together.

5. Networking Practice

Help your mentee develop their networking skills by attending industry events together, whether in-person or virtual. Before the event, practice elevator pitches and discuss strategies for starting conversations. Afterward, debrief on the experience, discussing what went well and what could be improved.

6. DIY 360, Or Listening Tour

A popular applied learning assignment in our leadership development programs is a Do It Yourself 360. This works great as a mentoring activity as well. The gist is to have specific, structured conversations to gather feedback and then align on one change to work on.

More on exactly how to do a DIY 360 here.

7. Project Collaboration

There’s no better way to get to know someone’s strengths and opportunities than to work on real work together. Collaborating on a project helps your mentee develop practical skills, and you have natural opportunities to observe and coach. Bonus. You get help doing important work that matters.

P.S. The header image of this article captures the joy of a mentor and mentee celebrating a major project collaboration. Sebastian, our son, and his wonderful high-school mentor.

The best mentoring activities help you connect and grow. Each relationship is different.  Pick one or two that excite you and go from there.

A few of our great mentor stories

Brainwaves Anthology (One of Karin’s mentors Dr. Henry Sims)

Brainwaves Anthology (One of David’s mentors Eva Horan)

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Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

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