8 attributes of a receptive mentee

8 attributes of a receptive mentee

CPA Alberta offers CPA members, students and candidates the opportunity to be matched with a Mentor, who has applicable experience, to help them progress and develop their careers. Pairings for this program will take place in the fall and the deadline to apply for the program is August 23, 2016. Learn more about the Mentorship Program here.

Being involved in a mentoring relationship requires effort. Anyone who wishes to improve their skills through the use of a Mentor should consider these attributes of a receptive mentee.

Willingness to Learn

Successful Mentees must have a willingness to learn from their Mentors. A mentoring relationship is interactive and requires the Mentee to be committed to setting goals and working toward specific learning objectives.

Willingness and Ability to Self-Evaluate

Mentees need to be able to assess their skills objectively and evaluate potential opportunities for self-development. They should have a personal vision, specific career/life goals and a good grasp on current career realities. This self-evaluation is required for the Mentee to set objectives within the mentoring relationship. Before asking for  help,  Mentees  should  know  their  tentative  career/life goals, their strengths, the development they need and the specific  assistance  they  would  like. The more they understand about themselves, the more accurately they can present their goals to their potential Mentor. Some ways to demonstrate their ability to evaluate their skills include:

  • Understand what is important to them, what they value and what they desire most;
  • Recognize areas which they perform well in, find concrete examples of behaviors they can perform at a good-to-excellent level;
  • Identify specific weaknesses or areas in which others have indicated that the Mentee needs to grow and develop;
  • Set tentative one-to-five year goals for both personal and professional lives; and
  • Describe accurately the reality of work situations in which they are involved.

Learning Style

Different people learn new ideas and concepts differently; for example, some people learn through verbalization and others through reflection.

Since mentoring is a tool for learning, it is important for Mentees to understand how they learn so they can evaluate whether mentoring is an effective learning tool for them. If mentoring is right for them, knowledge of their learning style will be helpful in working effectively with a Mentor.


Building a mentoring relationship takes time. Good Mentees recognize that a Mentor’s time is valuable and ensure that they adequately prepare for each face-to-face meeting. It is recommended that Mentees be prepared to commit a minimum of two hours every other week, in addition to the time for meetings, for mentoring activities, including review and preparation. Time management is an acquired skill that comes with experience, but can be augmented with appropriate time-management training. If Mentees have difficulty meeting the time commitments of the mentoring relationship, they could ask the Mentor for advice and ask their supervisor about professional development opportunities.

Commitment and Building Trust

Mentees must be committed to achieving the objectives of a mentoring relationship. Persistence is an important part of the process. The more the Mentor is able to trust in the Mentee’s ability and willingness, the more committed he will be to the partnership. This trust develops over time as the Mentor observes appropriate behaviors on the part of the Mentee.  To become trustworthy, Mentees must:

  • Keep confidences shared with their Mentor;
  • Spend quality time together;
  • Refrain from criticizing their Mentor to others;
  • Respect boundaries set by their Mentor;
  • Admit errors and take responsibility to correct them; and
  • When they disagree with their Mentor, tactfully explain why. It is not productive to be a “yes-person”.

Listening Actively

Active  listening  is  an  important  skill  for  both  Mentors  and  Mentees.  When Mentees listen well, they demonstrate to their Mentors that they are interested and understand what they are saying. Mentees can demonstrate their active listening by:

  • Showing interest with encouraging responses such as “hmmm…” and “yes…” or by paraphrasing certain comments in their questions to show they understand;
  • Using nonverbal signs of understanding, such as nodding their heads, leaning forward, and smiling;
  • Avoiding the interruption of others when they are talking;
  • Showing interest and remembering comments made in previous meetings; and
  • Summarizing key elements of conversations as the meeting draws to a close.


A Mentee needs to have the self-confidence to approach potential Mentors and effectively present the potential merits of mentoring relationships. One very important part of self-confidence is the ability to encourage others. This includes giving their Mentors recognition and sincere positive feedback. There are many different kinds of feedback and Mentors vary in the amount and kind of encouragement they feel comfortable with, for example:

  • Compliment the Mentor on known accomplishments;
  • Point out positive traits such as perseverance and integrity that have been observed;
  • Praise the Mentor privately;
  • Write an encouraging e-mail or leave a complimentary voice mail; and
  • Express thanks and appreciation and let the Mentor know how suggestions have been applied or ideas used.


Both the Mentor and Mentee will expect that the details and particulars discussed with the each other be kept in confidence. Any situation involving a risk to the public would override this expectation, however, safeguards could be put in place to support this.

The deadline for the October pairing of the CPA Alberta Mentorship Program is August 23, 2016. For more information and to register, click here.

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