Mentoring's Possible Pitfalls

Mentoring relationships do not always succeed. Some of the most frequent problems with mentoring relationships include:

A mismatch between the mentor and the protégé can be a cause of failure in the relationship. One or both members of the relationship may feel uneasy with the other, or they may not be able to achieve the level of friendship necessary for rich communication. Under such circumstances it may be necessary to assign the young entrepeneur to a different mentor. If the problem is identified during the first six months of the relationship the change can usually be made in an amicable way with no hard feelings on either side.
Problems in the relationship can also occur if the protégé expects or demands too much from the mentor. It is important, therefore, that expectations are clearly-defined from the beginning. The protégé should not expect the relationship to meet every need, nor for it to continue indefinitely.
In order to develop the type of relationship in which the mentor can be effective, he or she must first be perceived as trustworthy and able to keep confidences.

Since both parties in a mentoring relationship typically realize and accept the fact that a high level of trust is essential in order for an effective relationship to develop, there is little evidence of breaches of confidentiality. However, codes of conduct regarding the confidential nature of the relationship should be clearly defined and understood by both parties at the beginning of every mentoring relationship.