Making a success of the first coaching / mentoring session

First meeting agenda for coaching/mentoring

The aims of the first coaching / mentoring meeting are to:

  • Get to know each other and begin to establish trust and rapport
  • Agree the broad purpose of the coaching/mentoring  relations
  • Agree the ground rules for the relationship

Getting to know each other

Many relationships struggle to get off the ground because they are insufficiently open at the start. This is particularly true of when mentor and mentee come from different cultures. They may feel concerned not to offend, or be suspicious about each other’s motives, or simple not know what to share about each other.

Research shows that rapport in mentoring builds fastest when it is built around shared values. So don’t go through your CV. Send those details in an email beforehand. Talk instead about what excites you, what you feel passionate about, what you believe in and why this relationship is potentially important to you. In other words, show the human being. If needed, encourage the other person in the relationship to open up at the values level by asking questions such as:

  • When did you last feel really joyful? Angry? Encouraged? Let down?
  • What was it that made you feel that way?
  • Who is your hero and why?

Agreeing relationship purpose

Discuss purpose in terms of:

  • What you would like to learn
  • How you would like to be different as a person, as a result of this relationship
  • How you would like your circumstances to change as a result of this relationship
  • Don’t get hung up on very specific goals – these will emerge as the relationship progresses and you both understand the mentee’s situation and aspirations

Agree the ground rules

Clear, shared expectations are important. At the minimum, agree:

  • The confidentiality of conversations
  • The degree of openness you want to have
  • When, how often and for how long you will meet for substantive conversations
  • When and how you will have short, ad hoc conversations
  • How you will confront anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • How you will give feedback and challenge each other
  • How you will review the relationship

Ending the first meeting

Good practice is to:

  • Thank each other
  • Review the meeting – Have we made a good start at building rapport? Do we have any concerns?
  • Confirm when you will next meet.

© David Clutterbuck. All rights reserved

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