Mentoring is conducted one-on-one. A 'mentee' may have two or three mentors but is unlikely to have more. The purpose of a mentor-mentee relationship is to help the mentee look to the career direction that he/she is following and to help to clarify & sharpen what he/she is seeking to achieve in the medium to longer term. This means looking beyond his/her immediate issues & challenges, to look beyond even his/her current role. A typical horizon for this dialogue is 3+ years. The content of such a dialogue typically focuses on the mentee’s dreams, vision, aspirations, skills, strengths, behavioural attributes and priorities. To get value from mentoring, the mentee must be willing to be open to challenge and change.
The mentor needs to have wide business experience. In the IT context, this will ideally include IT experience, but above all the mentor must be empathetic, an outstanding listener and a challenging questioner. A mentor's role is to keep the dialogue ranging quite widely and to avoid it becoming narrowly focused to the possible exclusion of key areas. This is a key distinction between mentoring and coaching.
A mentor/mentee relationship should have good chemistry (usually quickly determined), clear and shared purpose (down to the mentee to set the agenda in agreement with the mentor), actionable outcomes from meetings and a 'shelf life' (typically 12 to 24 months) beyond which the relationship can get stale. The meetings should be planned, away from the mentee's usual place of work, not too frequent or infrequent (three to six per annum is usually about right), ideally face-to-face (especially the first two) although video conference/Skype/telephone can work, one to two hours long. The outcomes can be recorded, depending on the degree of formality agreed, although this is not essential as long as actionable outcomes are agreed.