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As a mentor and mentee begin their partnership, the first and most important thing involves setting specific mentoring goals to be accomplished throughout the program. Without any objective, the duo may find it hard to recognize the progress being made. In order to learn and build the career you want, it helps to have a clear picture of where you are headed. It is equally important to plan how to get there and turn your dreams into reality.
Setting mentoring goals gives you both short-term motivation and long-term vision. Short-term goals are the small or mini-goals that require going along the way to achieve big goals, such as participating in webinars to develop leadership skills. And the long-term goals tend to be the larger goals like becoming a powerful leader.
It helps you organize your resources and time to make the most of your achievements. When you set the goals and write down the objectives for yourself, you take big steps towards turning them into reality.
The mentee has the final say on the mentoring goals. But, they should seek feedback and input from their mentor. The first few sessions involve the discussion regarding goal setting.
The common examples of mentoring goals may include:
- People skills
- Career trajectories/5-year plans
- Becoming a better manager
- Life/work balance
- Presentation skills/public speaking
- Confidence skills
- Leadership skills
Mentoring partnerships can build your careers for better futures. However, without constructing suitable goals, you could be neglecting knowledge of great value. Fortunately, it is not difficult to get mentoring goals right.
It is natural to let the conversation session sheer off on deviations during your mentoring meeting. Maybe you are in desperate need of advice. And that is fine provided you have established the mentoring goals. It has the following benefits:
Both mentees and mentors must have goals to work on in their mentorship program. Sitting and discussing them with each other helps build connections and strengthen the relationship between them.
When you set the goals beforehand as a mentee, your mentor agrees on what all are relevant and irrelevant for the discussion. For instance, if not even a single goal concerns you to maintain a life-works balance, the discussion does not need to steer towards any kind of personal issues ever.
Goals offer a touchstone to register, monitor, and control every meeting session. When you consistently track your goals, you build a through-line between each mentee-mentor session and determine whether the program leads to success or not.
Setting a goal is not a science but an art. Every individual has their own unique strategy for creating and accomplishing goals. That being said, most of you can agree to the fact that in order to achieve big goals, you must break them into small ones. The mentoring relationship usually lasts between nine and twelve months, making it ideal for setting small mini-goals.
For instance, if you take a decision to run a marathon, it is a big goal. The small goals might include getting up an hour earlier every day to run, downloading a running app, buying proper running shoes, running for a specific amount of time in the first month, running for an increased amount of time in the next month, and so on.
Similarly, large goals can also be cut short into several mini-goals to make them achievable easily. If your goal is to become the most powerful leader at the end of the mentoring program, then you might want to take the following steps along the way.
- Attending webinars on developing leadership skills
- Reading certain books on leadership by great authors
- Volunteering in an upcoming project for a leadership role
Hopefully, you have the idea!
The mentees need to do the heavy lifting. The mentee does all the tasks mentioned above of attending webinars, reading books, and volunteering for the project. The mentor offers advice, support, and feedback in this process. However, it is not the job of the mentor to coach the mentee on how to become a leader. As you can see, that is an imperative difference between coaching and mentoring. Besides, engaging the help of a coach is one of the mini-goals for the mentee.
Prior to session one, the mentoring goals should be created individually by the mentee and mentor. The mentee and mentor should then refine the goals together during the first meeting. The mentoring goals must be defined specifically, challenging, and measurable. One must follow some reliable ways and techniques to create the goals. And ensure to check the progress of your goals regularly, making adjustments and pivots are required.
Objectives and Key Results or OKRs were considered a framework for organizations initially to set the framework for goals. They have grown popular for setting professional and personal goals.
- Objectives: Action-focused and high-level goals.
- Key results: The standards you utilize to track growth that has been made against that objective. It is quantitative and time-bound, numbering between 3 and 5. They must know the answer to the following question as how will you know that you have achieved the goal?
As already discussed, the perfect approach to manage a large goal effectively is to cut it into mini-goals.
These 2 models are quite similar and overlapping. Thus, choose the one that is best for your plan. In the first session, the mentor’s role is often to help the mentee shortlist their goals and then recognize the steps to be followed to reach them.
In 1981, James Cunningham, Arthur Miller, and George Doran introduced the SMART goals, and they have been used ever since. These goals are created by keeping a focus on realistic and specific targets which increases the probability of success.
The acronym SMART in these goals stands for all the qualities your goals should have, including Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Specific: The goals should be well-defined and clear. An undefined and vague goal is a recipe for disaster. Specific goals result in better performance. Try and find the answer to the following questions to make your goals specific:
- What would you wish to achieve?
- What is the reason behind achieving that goal?
- What tools (whose help) will you require for their accomplishment?
- Where will it occur?
For example, you want to grow a professional network that should be the connections in your industry.
Measurable: You and your mentee should always be able to track the progress of the goal you want to achieve. They must include the number and be measurable. Goals should be able to meet the benchmark.
For example, you want to grow the network by 20%.
Attainable: The mentoring goals set by the mentee shouldn’t be too hard to achieve as it will result in disappointment. The goals need to be challenging and not impossible to accomplish. They should enable you to create a backward roadmap detailing the tools, skills, and connections you will need to succeed.
For example, you will attend one networking event every week.
Relevant: The goals should be linked to the overall organizational goal and be relevant as it will help you map your values, adjacent pursuits, and current situation. Invest in the goals if they are meaningful to you.
For example, the industry insights you gain will help build career momentum.
Time-bound: You must achieve goals within a specific time frame. However, set up a realistic timeline and due dates for the mentee to achieve their goal. If you fail to put a time limit on a goal, it can result in procrastination and ultimately failure.
For example, the goal will be achieved by this year’s end.
When a mentee has goals in place, you need to define the steps taken to help them achieve the set goals. An action plan is important to achieve those goals. It would help if you decided on the overall strategy. For instance, if the goal is to become an effective leader, then the mentor may advise the following to the mentee:
- To improve time management skills
- To improve listening skills
- To improve communication skills
- Follow leaders on social media platforms and observe them
After agreeing on the ideal strategy for the goal, plan for particular short-term goals like taking a course on management and communication skills or practicing mindfulness. These mini-goals will ensure that the mentee’s growth is consistent with achieving their larger goals.
Your mentoring partnership requires goals. Besides, mentorship is a significant part of enhancing your career, whether you are a mentee or mentor. And, goal setting is the most important part of the mentorship program. Setting the appropriate or right goals is important for a successful mentorship relationship as it pays long after it is completed. Besides setting goals and defining strategies, tracking the goal’s progress is equally important to understand what is working and to keep you motivated. Thus, it is all about discovering the best system for both mentor and mentee.