It helps to step back now and then to examine your expectations: What do you want from the relationship, and what do you think your mentee wants? What exactly are you hoping to achieve? How do you or your mentee want your mentee’s life or behaviors to change because of you? How do you or your mentee define success? How does your role as a friend or “coach” call for a different approach to “helping” than that used by a parent, teacher, or professional youth worker? The more specific you can be in answering these questions, the better you can assess whether your expectations are realistic. In “It’s Not What I Expected” (2007), Boston College’s Renée Spencer demonstrates how counterproductive it can be when mentors fail to establish reasonable expectations for themselves, for their mentee, and for their relationship. But always remember, it is your mentee’s expectations that should drive the relationship, not yours.
Expect to develop trust and closeness: It is also particularly important to focus your expectations on developing feelings of trust and closeness in the early stages of your relationship, Building the relationship is the most important work you will do as a mentor, and the most successful relationships are those in which mentors take their lead from their mentees.