Mentors and Managers – Who Does What?

Planning Activity
Mentors & Managers Identify Their Respective Roles


The organization provides a general set of checklists such as are found on this web site, and which they call some thing like “The Tasks of Mentors”. That list should be developed from the experience of the staff on the Mentor Program Committee or as a result of their research if the program is new, and by evaluating similar checklists from experienced mentors in other organizations. Typically, these general checklists are meant as a starting point to help mentors decide what may be appropriate in their specific settings based on hierarchical level, specialty areas, disciplines, the protege’s experience and needs, agreements with managers, and the mentor’s strengths.

Managers also fulfill some mentoring functions as a part of their job, including that of “chief staff developer”. Given that reality, there needs to be some means of coordinating “who does what” concerning mentoring tasks. Otherwise:

  • The mentor may do things the manager considers an administrative area.
  • The manager may do things out of a desire to help and be supportive of the new staff member, but which the mentor views as mentoring territory.
  • Neither do something important for the protege’s development, but each thinks the other is doing it.

The goal of this activity is to ensure that mentors and managers have time provided to discuss the support to be provided proteges and that they reach a clear agreement about their respective responsibilities for
the tasks involved.

This activity will be done by determining if any of the items on these checklists are tasks:

  • The manager might prefer to lead for the mentor & protege
  • The manager might prefer to lead for the protege alone
  • The manager & mentor might plan and conduct together.

No set number of items is expected to be removed from the mentor’s list and assigned to the manager. In fact, it’s OK if a pmanager prefers that mentors do all of the items.

During the planning meeting do the following:

1. The managers should get together and the mentors should get together in separate groups . Limit the groups to about 5-6 people if possible.

2. While in the separate groups, participants review and discuss the items on each of the check lists. Then, they prepare a tentative list as follows:

  • Mark an X in the margin by those items which seem to be more appropriate for the manager.
  • Mark a ? in the margin by those items which might be shared or done by both the mentor and the building manager .
  • Leave unmarked those items to be done just by mentors.

The activity to examine the lists is done this way to facilitate brainstorming. Managers and mentors from an individual department or team may choose to do whatever they feel is best, including rewording or adding items.

3. The manager and mentors from each department sit together at one table. Managers from a department with no mentors this year can sit with another team.

4. While in departmental groups, mentors and the manager should:

  • Share their tentative lists with each other and discuss each other’s views
  • Reach agreement on the items identified. Use this agreement to guide “who does what” for the next year.

5. At the end of the year revise their list to reflect what they have learned works best, and share it with the Mentor Committee.