Frequently Asked Questions

Am I mentoring the individual or the charity?
The Group is established on the premise that your role is to mentor the individual. Charity chief executives have a unique and often isolated role and your task as mentor is to help them think through problems and find solutions. Often these problems have been influenced by the Board or the senior management team and your independence is important factor in the success of the Group.

How long should a mentoring session last?
Most meetings last about two hours, but it is up to you and your mentee. The session can take many different forms. You can choose to agree an agenda, or be more free-flowing. As a Group we deliberately avoid bureaucracy.

How frequently should mentors and mentees meet?
We recommend 4-6 meetings per year, with a telephone and email contact in-between. If meetings are more frequent, the mentor is likely to become too hands on, or feel imposed upon. Use common sense to agree at the start a balance that suits both, but be prepared to review that agreement if there is a radical change of circumstances.

Where is the best place to meet?
Where mentor and mentee both feel able to relax, yet be business-like in their discussions. It can be over a meal or another location, e.g. the mentor’s office. In general, a neutral, private space is usually best. Experience suggests that the mentees’ office has too many distractions and can also cause staff to question the chief executive about the mentoring relationship, when they may prefer to keep it confidential.

How long should a mentoring relationship last?
Some last for many years, perhaps a lifetime. However, most people outgrow their mentor and this is generally a good thing for both people. It is usually considered best practice to set up an expected end date for the relationship, to provide some sense of pace. However, many mentoring pairs set new goals and continue, sometimes several times over. In the Kilfinan Group the average length of time for a productive mentoring relationship is about two years. If you want to draw a mentoring relationship to a close then discuss this with the mentee and invite them to contact the Group Co-ordinator to find a new match if they would like a new mentor.

Can I have more than one mentee at a time?
Yes, but it’s best to start with one, while you develop your skills in the role. It’s very difficult to maintain the quality of relationship, if you have lots of mentees, unless you are a professional mentor.

Do I have to really like my mentee?
It helps, and the relationship won’t go far if you can’t stand each other. However, formal mentoring is often seen as a “professional friendship”, the key is that you respect each other and make the effort to understand each other. Many deep friendships have developed from mentoring relationships where the two parties were initially unsure of each other and who would not have come across each other through their normal working life.

Should I meet the Chair of the charity?
We exist to mentor the individual not the organisation, so you should not expect to have contact with the Chair, Trustees or any of the staff team at the charity, unless your mentee asks you to.

What if my mentee tells me they are going to leave the organisation?
The confidentiality rules apply. And because the mentor is entrusted with looking after the best interests of the mentee, s/he should not automatically try and dissuade them. Rather, the mentor should take an unbiased, objective approach to help the mentee review the opportunity and the reasons for choosing to leave, helping them test whether this is a good choice.

Why is the relationship confidential?
We are mentoring the individual not the organisation, so decisions about whether the chief executive shares the fact that they are being mentored rests with them. In some relationships the chief executive has introduced their mentor to their Chair or their staff. In others, the relationship is private and not shared with others. Outside of Chapter meetings, we never discuss the names of chief executives receiving mentoring and the Kilfinan Group is not publically advertised.

What if I haven’t heard from my mentee in 4 months or they are slow to request meetings?
Often the mentee will only contact the mentor when they are facing a specific problem but experience suggests that it is preferable to keep the relationship continuous as this creates maximum benefit. The onus for arranging meetings rests with both parties, but if a mentee fails to respond to your suggestion to meet then this may indicate that the relationship should be drawn to a close. The Group Coordinator can assist if this occurs.