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Mentoring programs are meant to be a way for people with experience in a particular field to help less experienced people develop the skills they need to succeed. In theory, they should give everyone involved an opportunity to learn, grow, and be generous with their new knowledge. But in practice, these programs often end up being little more than a mechanism for people to hand out unwanted advice with no discernible benefit to either party.

1. The Person You’re Mentoring Isn’t Ready to Be Mentored

Mentors and mentees have to have a good relationship with each other. Each one should know what they’re getting into and what they can expect from the other person. And they should have a good understanding of their expectations as well. So if a mentee comes to you and tells you that they’re not ready to be mentored, pay attention. If they don’t want to be bothered and don’t feel like they need it, then it’s your job as a mentor to back off and leave them alone.

2. You’re Not a Good Fit for the Person You Want to Work With

You can be the best mentor in the world, but if the student isn’t suited for what you have to offer, there’s no sense in setting up such a relationship in the first place. If you’re not a good fit for them, then there’s no point in prolonging your suffering. You’ll need to seek someone else who can better use your knowledge, experience, and problem-solving abilities.

3. The Mentee Feels Like They Are Getting Nothing Out of It

If you’re mentoring someone complaining that they don’t think they’re getting anything out of it, then you have a problem on your hands. This can result from a poor rapport between you, or perhaps the relationship isn’t one-sided enough. If you don’t feel like they have much to offer, it might not be the time to push it.

4. You Are Not a Good Listener

This is one of the cardinal sins of a mentor, but it happens all too often. Mentors can get so excited about their knowledge that they don’t listen to what the mentee says. Or maybe they miss things the mentee says – which can cause significant problems with their progress. Either way, you must be able to take in what someone else has to say, hear them out and truly listen before you ask any questions or give any advice.

5. The Program Doesn’t Have a Clear Goal, Agenda, or Structure

An excellent mentoring program has a clear plan and a clear structure. Each one should be made up of a certain number of meetings with particular topics, goals, tasks, and deliverables for each meeting. A program without this kind of structure will fall apart under its weight and be a waste of everyone’s time. Make sure you have planned out your meetings from start to finish and that each person knows exactly what they’re supposed to be learning or doing at any given time.

Mentoring programs can be beneficial for helping people learn about a new field or understand it better. But like all education, they must be structured, planned, and followed through carefully. If not, you will waste time and lose both your interest in the mentee and their interest in you.