Mentoring During the First Week of Work

by Barry Sweeny, 2003


Mentor and ProtegeOne of the first tasks you will need to do as a mentoring pair is to “negotiate” some formal or informal agreement regarding the commitments you make to each other for your work together as mentor and protégé.

  • Some mentoring programs make this a very formal process with a written mentoring contract or agreement for you both to complete, sign and date.
  • Some programs provide guidance and maybe a checklist of what to discuss, but keep the agreement between you and your mentor more informal.

Since there are a number of items to cover, this author tends toward the more formal process. Such a process also tends to ensure less conflicts later on, and more clarity about the shared nature of your work as a mentoring pair.

Expect that there will bea check list or two that proteges and mentors need to work through together After all, proteges have lots to learn and very little time in which to learn it.

Also expect that there may be some form of a mentoring program needs assessment for proteges to complete. If there is, this is a good sign as it indicates the program’s desire to address your specific needs in its planning for orientation, training, and other program support activities. The protege should complete the needs assessment candidly and honestly, and return it right away.

Consider discussion on some logistical details like how late it is still OK for a protege to call a mentor for help or guidance, or how late can the mentor call the protege?

Discuss to what extent do either of you prefer to use e-mail, and then, reach the necessary agreement of how often, even about what time will each of your check your e-mail for messages.


As the protege begins the work assignment, the mentor should spend some time with the protege and consider giving:

  • A tour of the community (if that is new to the protege)
  • A tour of the site/building/complex/campus (if that is new to the protege). Think ahead about what the protege will need to know about where things are found, and show them these places.
    • Where are rest rooms?
    • Supplies storage?
    • Equipment storage?
    • Central or main administrative offices?
    • Employee lounge? Vending machine areas?
    • Emergency exit routes?
    • Parking appropriate for you to use?
    • Entrances best suited to loading & unloading things you may have to check out? Etc.
  • Help with setting up the protege’s work space, considering traffic patterns, storage needs, etc.
  • Guidance in planning for the first month or so of work.
  • Advice about what to do if unexpected things happen, such as absence due to illness, etc.

The mentor should walk the protege through some of the initial work processes that need to be learned. Try to give the protege some experience with the work as soon as possible, even if it is a simulated experience or role play you do.