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Handling Roadblocks

Mentoring is a powerful connection between two people. Over the course of your mentoring relationship, you may experience great joys as well as some uncomfortable moments.

Issues and possible solutions

This is a list of possible issues that may arise during your mentoring relationship and some suggestions for how to deal with them. This list is not exhaustive: Remember you may always contact your mentoring coach for support.  Fellow mentors/mentees may also have useful strategies to share.


“My mentor/mentee always arrives at least 15 minutes late for our scheduled meetings. What should I do?” 
  • Agree upfront on what should be done if either party is going to be late.
  • Remember that rescheduling, ahead of time, is an option.
  • Be aware that different cultures and workplaces have different orientations to time and discuss what is considered appropriate behaviour in the Canadian workplace.
  • Explain workplace norms and the implications of tardiness in the context of Canadian workplace culture.

Inappropriate expectations of the other’s role

“The mentee asked me to find him a job.”
“We spent the whole hour talking about how my mentor might expand his business interests in my home country.”
  • Take time out to clarify roles as per the orientation and the handbook.
  • Politely bring the discussion back on track – i.e. what is the purpose of your mentoring relationship?
  • Get the support of your coach if you are unsure how to deal with the situation.

Mentee needs more intensive support than mentor can provide

“The mentee’s business writing skills are problematic.” 
  • See the online Handbook topic on addressing language issues.
  • Discuss your concerns with your mentee.
  • Consult the mentoring coach for language services, support or referrals.
  • Discuss how the issue affects the goals of your work together, and the mentee’s job readiness. If necessary, review your priorities and redirect your efforts.

“I realize that I am really discouraged and down and it is affecting my mood and my relationship with my mentor.” 
  • Share your concerns with your mentor.
  • Consult the mentoring coach for services, support or referrals.

One feels the other is not making the mentoring relationship a priority.

“My mentor/mentee never calls me back.”
“I sent three emails and I haven’t received an answer yet.”
“My mentor/mentee cancelled our meeting at the last minute twice.” 

  • In your first meeting, communicate and agree to how long it might take for you to return calls and emails.
  • Let the other person know if the coming period will be especially busy.
  • Be forgiving.
  • Discuss the expectations you have of your partner. Are they realistic?
  • Are there any underlying issues affecting your mentoring relationship?
  • Assess whether or not current demands on your time allow you to continue to meet your minimum obligations. If not, consider contacting your mentoring coach to formally pause your relationship for a few weeks.
  • Contact your mentoring coach for support.