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Deadly Sins of Mentoring

How to make a mentoring relationship work.

There is such a thing as a mentoring match made in hell. But more often it's the case that a relationship can avoid a breakup by following some sound advice. Sandy Sarvis, 48, is the director of diversity for Fannie Mae, which has an extensive mentoring program. Here are her three deadly sins of mentoring.


"For the relationship to work, you have to commit the time. You can't give up if the chemistry doesn't feel right at the first meeting. We suggest a minimum of one meeting per month. It's important to touch base regularly - by email, by phone. Some people meet at the gym for a workout. I've taken my protege to a baseball game."


"Nothing kills trust in a mentoring relationship faster than a breach of confidence."

PC Faux Pas.

"You need to pick up on cultural and gender differences. If you're paired with someone who differs from you in either race or gender, or both, be sensitive to these differences. You're in this to learn, whether you're a protege or a mentor. Do a little homework. And listen."

Coordinates: Sandy Sarvis,

A version of this article appeared in the September 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.