Career Design Lab

5 pitfalls - and ways to avoid them

On the mentoring journey, situations change and there may be bumps on the road. However, the typical pitfalls can be anticipated and avoided.
Two people sitting on campus
Photo: Aleksi Poutanen

1. Lack of time

How to find time for meetings when both the mentor and the actor are busy? Based on previous experiences, the use of time or the lack of it is perceived as one of the biggest pitfalls related to mentoring.


  • Agree on meeting times right from the start
  • Stick to the agreed times
  • Allow time for preparation

2. Communication problems

The lack of mutually agreed practices and methods of communication may cause confusion and lead to frustration.


  • Agree on mutual communication methods at the very beginning
  • Adjust the plan according to changed needs and life situations
  • Talk openly about hopes and worries
abstract illustration

3. Too few meetings

In a mentoring relationship, regular meetings are important in order to maintain commitment and interest. In terms of deepening the mentoring relationship, it is also essential that there are several meetings.


  • Book regular meetings once a month for the duration of the programme
  • Agree together if there is a need to end the mentoring relationship for some reason before the official end of the programme

4. Negative feelings

Experiencing negative emotions during the mentoring process is common. During a long and trusting relationship, there will almost naturally be a phase of stagnation when negative thoughts may also come to mind.


  • Let the situation correct itself over time 
  • Feel free to bring it up with your mentor or actor

5. The chemistries do not match

The quality of the mentoring relationship also depends on personal chemistry. For some pairs, they match better than others, as in all human relations anyway. However, a mentoring relationship can develop.


  • Give the mentoring relationship time to develop
  • Get to know each other better
  • Dare to also disagree and challenge

A successful mentoring relationship largely depends on the interaction of the mentoring pair and the input of both parties.

Mentor, Aalto University Mentoring Programme
Tips and tools for mentoring
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