Beyond S.M.A.R.T goals – How to take your mentee’s goals to the next level

Establishing goals is fundamental to the success of a mentoring relationship. However, setting goals that are SMART—specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely, is just the start of the journey to goal achievement. Success lies in the active participation of both the mentor and the mentee requiring ongoing focus, commitment, review and adjustment.

Try these 6 tips to help you to support your mentee to take their goals to the next level.

1.Setting a progressive action plan – At the end of each meeting you should be establishing and agreeing to a set of actions that will support your mentee’s progression towards accomplishing their goals. Ensure these actions serve as ‘stepping stones’ to gently progress your mentee to final goals and objectives. An incremental approach allows your mentee to make accomplishments along the way, celebrate success, build confidence, sustain motivation, and importantly work to measure progress.

 2.Regular review of goals – Regardless of how formal or informal your mentoring relationship is, you should be monitoring the progress of your mentee’s goals at regular intervals. It is good practice to review progress at the commencement of each session by discussing action items that were set at the previous meeting. Use a mentoring log and action plan to support your conversations and consider the following questions at the start of your mentoring meeting:

  • How are goals tracking against the suggested timeframes?
  • Are the objectives being met by the suggested means?
  • How effective was the approach?
  • If your mentee is meeting and/or exceeding the set goals and objectives, do you need to set additional or more challenging goals?

3.Learning to a new way to learn – For many mentees, taking their goals to the next level may require a change in how they learn and grow within the mentoring relationship. Learning in this context is significantly different from formal structured learning programs and this may require a mindset shift for your mentee. Consider if your mentee needs encouragement and motivation to open their eyes to the many different learning opportunities surrounding them and the sources of inspiration and knowledge to tap into.

4.Positive atmosphere – A positive and open atmosphere is important to enhance performance and release your mentee’s potential. Building rapport and maintaining regular, consistent and effective communication creates the safe and positive space for your mentee to explore and expand their goals and experiment with different approaches. While in this space, be mindful of pointing out short comings. Instead, encourage and explore lessons learnt.

5.Share insights to build confidence – Along with occasionally sharing success stories with your mentee, as a mentor, you are encouraged to reveal failures and mistakes you have made. Your experience provides your mentee with a more realistic view, insight and appreciation of challenges and issues they may face in the future and how they might address similar situations. Be humble, be vulnerable. Don’t underestimate how powerful this insight can be to your mentee’s learning and progress.

6.Address roadblocks early – You may find your mentee is consistently not achieving their objectives or completing planned actions. As a mentor, it is important that you support your mentee in the diagnosis of issues or challenges preventing progress, and addressing these sooner rather than later. Explore why they have chosen to delay or not do something at all – importantly, assess whether the goal is still relevant and meaningful to them. Be sure not to judge your mentee on reasons why. They may be facing significant challenges in other aspects of their professional or personal life and they may not be aware of the impact.

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