Module 7

Relationship Building


  • List the five stages of relationship development
  • Match times in the Challenge cycle when stages will most likely occur
  • Review various examples of mentor and cadet relationship challenges


Mentoring is difficult without strong connections. Strong connections are dependent on trust. Understanding the stages of a mentoring relationship can help you to have more realistic expectations about your relationship. It is especially helpful to understand the normal issues in any relationship and know that many problems can be resolved. The five stages in developing and establishing any relationship are:

  1. Forming. In this first stage, there is a high degree of anxiety and uncertainty. It is the get-acquainted time.
  2. Norming. The mentor and cadet search for common ground, share experiences, and build trust.
  3. Storming. Relationship setbacks and failures become “teachable moments.”
  4. Performing. Trust deepens and a comfort level in the relationship is reached.
  5. Mourning (morning). This is the end of the formal mentoring commitment and the beginning of a more informal mentoring relationship and friendship.

The stages listed are not necessarily sequential. Sometimes an earlier stage that has been completed may be repeated. For example, after the Performing Stage, the Storming Stage might occur again or for the first time. This might mean emphasis needs to be placed on the Norming Stage or the Forming Stage.

The first three months of the mentoring relationship are important and need a lot of attention. Successful early stages of the relationship—Forming and Norming—are crucial to the long-term effectiveness of the match and the achievement of Challenge goals. Another critical time in the mentoring relationship is the first three months after graduation. This can become another Forming Stage. Storming is common during this period as well. It is not uncommon to return to various stages several times. Persistence and consistency will ensure that this relationship will succeed.

During the residential phase of the program, the primary role of the mentor is to participate in mentor training, participate in a matching ceremony, and to help the cadet with their Post-Residential Action Plan (P-RAP).