How to Overcome the “Busy Schedule” Mentoring Challenge

Mentoring Meetings

What to Do When Your Mentoring Meetings Keep Changing

Did you ever have a mentor who didn’t quite make it to your scheduled mentoring meetings?

Where you were going weeks without getting together because of their shifting schedule, or because they were going a hundred directions at once?

Or maybe they’d cut short the meetings you did have because of countless interruptions. They were “there, but they weren’t really there.”

If you’re the mentee, that can get frustrating. Goodness knows you’d hoped for much more, and on a regular basis.

Even though mentoring is life-changing stuff, we can poke a little fun at ourselves occasionally, and then talk about some helpful solutions.

Also Read: 5 Tips on How to Find the Right Mentor for YOU in 2018

So in that spirit, I’m calling this mentor, the one who often gets derailed by the real demands of the job, “The Drive-By Mentor.” No doubt their intentions are admirable, they really do want to mentor you, it’s just that the “overwhelm is overwhelming” and your mentoring meetings are the collateral damage of their incredibly busy schedule (or possibly their struggle to organize that schedule).

Erma Bombeck said, “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.” That’s true about many of our relationships. Check out “The Drive-By Mentor” in this quick video, and then as a mentee who might have such a mentor, or be contemplating connecting with one, you can decide,

Buy-In?        (Yep, I’m sticking with my mentor.)

Buy Time?  (Hmmm. Might have to think about this awhile.)

Bye-Bye?     (I don’t think this is going to work for me. Adios!)

What can you do about a DriveBy Mentor?

What happens when the mentor’s participation isn’t reliable?

The mentee feels the mentor doesn’t care!

Plan a “to-the-point discussion” with your mentor

It’s reasonable to have to reschedule sometimes. But when a mentor repeatedly adjusts the times, and most discussions are cut short due to the mentor’s competing priorities, it’s time to for a to-the-point conversation.

Also Read: 3 Essential Tips to Make Mentoring Easy

This can be a tough one to have. The mentor might be further up the management chain and the mentee fears offending them. A productive conversation could be like this:

Mentee: “It’s a bit frustrating to me because we have had to reschedule our last couple of appointments. I look forward to our meetings. Is there a regular time that would fit better with your schedule?”

Mentor: “Oh, it gets crazy with my schedule. We just have to keep it flexible.”

Mentee: “It’s important to me to get the benefit of your time on a fairly regular basis. Maybe we synergize if I could go with you to some of your meetings? Then we can accommodate your schedule and I can observe.”

Ask for opportunities to combine their time priorities with your mentoring

This can be a great opportunity for “Share by Showing” mentoring. If your mentor can’t meet with you because of another commitment, you may ask, if appropriate, “Could I join you?”

If you’re a mentee who goes crazy with this kind of inability to stick to a plan, it might be time to exit the relationship.

If you can hang in there due to the other things you gain, then you’ll need to adjust your expectation and roll with the mentor’s changes.

Create some “check-in” structure up front to keep communication open

Talk to your mentor. An upfront contract, agreed-to check-in times, and a commitment to talk freely will guide your future with your Drive-By Mentor.

Also Read: Does Your Business Mentoring Look Like This?

Discussion questions for your team or staff meeting:

1. What have you done in the past when your mentor has had to continually reschedule meetings with you?

2. How has this impacted your mentoring relationship?

3. What do you plan to do in the future should it happen again?


Mentors — In an upcoming blog, we’ll take a look at that mentee who’s just a little too eager to get promoted and planned on it happening yesterdayThe “AdvanceMentee!”

Mentees —we’ll talk soon on how to deal with a “By-the-Book Mentor,” the mentor who can never have enough structure and guidelines! (Don’t they know the meaning of “chill?!”)

Look for more “TorMentors” and “TorMentees,” who are entertaining, and yet help shine the light on real-life mentoring issues.

Stay tuned!

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Lori Bachman created The MentorShift Group to equip mentors and mentees with a practical and powerful mentoring system. The system is designed to equip those who use it to, not only flourish in their own mentoring relationships, but to be able to transfer its success to others as well.