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Korean J Med Educ > Volume 28(3); 2016 > Article
Rolfe: The mentor’s role
The mentor’s job is to listen, provide constructive feedback, help their mentee consider various options, refer them to resources available and facilitate their decision-making regarding study, work or career matters. The mentor may choose to share their own experiences and, if asked, give advice. The mentor may help the mentee identify skills that could be developed, coach them and give them an opportunity to practice and receive feedback. They may act as a sounding board for the mentee’s problems, ideas or career plans, by asking questions that cause them to explore issues. Mentors may challenge the mentee’s thinking. In these ways mentors provide guidance. The mentor does not solve problems; rather they are a collaborator in a problem solving process.

Phases in the mentoring relationship

Typically a mentoring relationship develops over time (Fig. 1) [1].

1. Starting

During the initial contact and exploration you get to know each other. This is a time to define the mentoring relationship, clarify expectations and set goals. The mentee may look to the mentor for leadership in this phase or be quite assertive about what their needs are. Rapport building is the key element. Partners can develop empathy, find common interests and recognise and value their differences.

2. Relating

As the relationship evolves, you become more comfortable with one-another. You focus on the goals and tasks that you have agreed upon. Ideally, a kind of synergy develops that allows you to produce exciting results. Trust and intimacy may develop.

3. Parting

The mentoring has achieved its objectives and you may move into a collegial relationship, or friendship, or relinquish their roles. An acknowledgment of the conclusion of the mentoring relationship, such as a celebration or final event, is useful.

Fig. 1.

Phases in a Mentoring Relationship



1. Rolfe A. Mentoring: mindset, skills and tools. Kincumber South, Australia: Mentoring Works; 2012.

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The mentoring pocketbook  2014 June;26(2)
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