“What are your goals?”
Having a clear answer to this question - or at least some sort of north star to follow - is crucial to building a successful mentoring relationship.
The basis of a mentoring relationship is a conversation, but if there’s no direction or end goal to frame these conversations, it’ll be a waste of time for both the mentor and mentee.
So how do you set goals for a mentoring relationship - both short and long-term goals?
This article is all about goal setting and professional development- whether you’re the mentor, mentee, or organization starting a mentoring program.
A quick shout out — We interviewed several of the most impressive mentorship program managers we know to pull out the crucial best practices that set apart impactful programs from the rest. Download the e-book to access their invaluable insights.
The Importance Of Setting Mentoring Goals
Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California led a research study on goal-setting with 270 participants. She found that participants were 42% more likely to achieve their personal goals after they had written them down.
We can’t argue with science.
Setting goals as a mentor or mentee is critical, but you need to write them down to ensure the action follows commitment. So take inspiration from the following mentoring goal examples, and then write down goals that mean something to you.
Watch this videos on goal setting
John Doerr is an engineer, acclaimed venture capitalist and the chairman of Kleiner Perkins. In this Ted Talk, he breaks down why the secret to success is setting the right goals.
Doerr shows us how we can get back on track with "Objectives and Key Results," or OKRs -- a goal-setting system employed by the likes of Google, Intel and Bono to set and execute on audacious goals. Learn more about how setting the right goals can mean the difference between success and failure in your mentoring relationship.
Examples Of Goals For A Mentoring Relationship
During your first meeting with your mentor or mentee, your discussion should focus on the outcomes you hope to achieve. What do you want to have learned? What questions do you want to be answered? What growth do you hope to have seen?
Let’s list some examples of mentorship goals and then explore each goal in more detail.
Examples of mentee goals for a mentoring relationship could include:
- Skill development
- Career planning
- Learn the workplace culture
- Gain visibility for potential promotions
- Problem-solving skills
Examples of a mentor’s goals for helping their mentee may be:
- Growing their leadership skills
- Developing a reputation as an advisor and guide for others
- Strengthening their emotional intelligence and communication skills
- Gaining new perspectives
If an organization wants to introduce mentoring across their organization, they may do so with the goal of:
- Reducing employee turnover
- Increasing engagement among employees
- Planning for leadership succession
- Promoting diversity and inclusion
- Attracting and retaining top talent
- Building up future leaders and high potential employees
Now that we have examples of common goals for mentoring, let’s unpack each goal in more detail.
Mentee Goals Examples
What’s the purpose of having a mentor for you? Do you want to follow in their footsteps or use the advice and guidance they share to inform your own career decisions? Know this will help inform the kinds of goals you want from your mentoring relationship.
Here are some examples of goals mentees can have:
One of the most common reasons that employees look for mentorships is to develop specific skills. For employees who are new to the company, this is the best way to become better at their job.
For example, if the mentee works in sales, a mentor could help them work on their cold calling skills. However, this goal can also work in a reverse mentorship where the roles are switched.
The more experienced employee takes on the mentee’s role and is taught something by the more junior employee.
This dynamic helps the mentor develop new skills in a relationship where the mentee has the knowledge. Most often, these reverse mentorships are connected to developing technology skills and capabilities.
Mentorships are valuable tools for helping mentees create a long-term plan and strategy for their career. In these situations, the mentor is an advisor who can point their mentee in the right direction and help them with their career planning.
Careers aren’t as linear as they once were. It’s more common for employees to have upwards of seven career changes throughout their lives.
As our careers follow more twists and turns, employees are embracing what is called a squiggly career. A squiggly career is a career that isn't defined by climbing the corporate ladder but is fluid and can take many different paths.
Because our career paths will likely be complex, it’s an important goal to clarify what our career goals are. By building a relationship with a mentor, you can learn from their own experience and use what they’ve learned to inform your own choices for your career.
Mentorships are a great way for younger employees to expand their network of contacts. Their mentors are likely individuals who work in the same industry and can help connect their mentees with influential people in their network. This can open up opportunities that would be harder to come by otherwise.
Growing your network is a good goal to have in the long term, but it shouldn’t be the only goal. A mentor can feel used if they feel their only purpose is to expand your network.
Instead, consider this goal after having already built a relationship with them and learned valuable lessons from their experience.
Learn the workplace culture
Connecting with a mentor who can give insight into the corporate culture can be useful for newer mentees who have recently joined a company. They can become more aware of workplace routines, policies, and expectations in a short time.
If you’re a part of an onboarding mentorship program, having the goal of learning about the company culture through your mentor is a smart goal to have. Doing so will help you hit the ground running faster and may impress your managers. It can set you up for success.
Gain visibility for potential promotions
Research has shown that employees who have a mentor are more likely to be promoted throughout their careers. This includes receiving higher compensation and more promotions, as well as higher career satisfaction.
Your success can be attributed to both skill development and that a mentor will act as a sponsor for your future opportunities.
A mentor can coach you through problems you’re facing right now or act as an advisor to help you learn problem-solving skills. Bring a problem to your mentor. One that you’d like help navigating.
For example, here are some problems or situations you can bring to your mentor to talk through:
- “I tried to delegate a task last week, and it did not go as well as I’d expected. Can you help me think through what to do differently next time?”
- “I have these two very different career path options and would like your help making a decision.”
- “I have a performance review coming up with my manager. Could you help me prepare?”
By asking your mentor these questions, you can talk through them together and determine how best to address them.
Mentor Goals Examples
If you’re a mentor, you stand to benefit just as much as your mentee. Being a mentor is an opportunity to validate your leadership skills and hone other skills like emotional intelligence, communication, and empathy. It’s also an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective from a more junior employee.
So if you want to stay sharp in your role and support the next generation of talent, here are some examples of mentoring goals you can have:
Growing leadership skills
Being a mentor can help senior employees become better leaders and instills confidence in leading others. The responsibility of helping guide someone’s career and goals requires the senior employee to teach, motivate and provide honest feedback.
All these skills are necessary for successful leaders. For that reason, becoming a better leader is a great goal for mentors to have.
Developing a reputation as an advisor and guide for others
Over time, companies will acknowledge successful mentors for their communication skills and capacity to assist more junior employees with their career advancement and personal development.
Mentors can become known as counsellors who are willing to assist others and build up the company. This is a great reputation to have and a worthy goal for mentors who want to leave a legacy.
Strengthening their emotional intelligence and communication skills
Emotional intelligence is key to organizational success. But our EQ skills are only learned through practice, and mentorship is a great training ground.
As a mentor, you can learn how to listen first and then respond. Additionally, you’ll learn how to communicate sometimes difficult feedback to your mentee.
If your goal is to increase your emotional intelligence and become a more effective communicator, being a mentor is a great way to achieve that goal.
Gain new perspectives
Senior executives can lose touch with the front lines of their companies as they grow in their roles. For that reason, being a mentor is a great way to get a sense of how the organization is doing.
While the mentor is usually transferring knowledge to their mentee, a mentee can help executives learn new skills and get different perspectives on things like technological trends or employee well-being.
Workplace Mentorship Goals Examples
An organization considering developing a workplace mentoring program is usually looking to fix a problem, such as a high turnover rate or lack of diversity. Here are some examples of mentoring program goals organizations may have:
It's worthwhile to share what Wendy Axelrod, author of 10 Steps to Successful Mentoring, has to say about tying your goals to strategic initiatives you have in your organization. Our CEO, Matt Reeves interviewed Wendy to understand what successful mentoring programs do differently. Here's what she had to say about organizational mentoring goals:
Reduce employee turnover
The cost of employee turnover is high. Research has indicated it can be up to 75 percent of an employees’ salary. To find out how much employee turnover is costing your organization, see our calculator.
Organizations use mentoring programs as a way to cut down employee dissatisfaction or improve employee engagement. A workplace mentoring program can make employees feel valued and a part of an organization.
Increased engagement among employees
According to Gallup’s engagement survey, the number of committed and giving their best at their jobs is low. While this is a contributing factor to high employee turnover rates, it also negatively impacts the workplace atmosphere.
An employee who is not engaged does not produce their best work and often brings down the whole team. Nothing helps drive employee engagement like a mentorship program to connect employees in mentoring relationships.
Through mentorship, new employees will better understand the corporate culture and what is expected of them. The connection employees make with a mentor will also give them a feeling of belonging and show them that they’re valuable. Mentorship is an effective way to enhance employee engagement.
10,000 Baby Boomers are preparing for retirement daily. Organizations have been using mentoring programs to train up younger employees so that when the senior members leave, they don’t take all their wisdom and experience with them.
A mentor-mentee situation allows the older employee to pass along their knowledge to the younger employee to have the younger employee take over when the senior employee retires. The senior manager can successfully give new managers the tools for success in their role.
Diversity and inclusion
Research has shown that companies with a diversity of race and gender in leadership roles have higher productivity and earnings.
Therefore, if an organization wants to become more diverse and inclusive, a mentoring program can be beneficial in many ways. Minority employees often have challenges and obstacles that other employees don’t.
By pairing them with a mentor, companies can help them overcome hurdles and help advance their careers. In turn, these employees can bring insight to companies that other employees don’t. These insights can help an organization overcome marketplace hurdles, improve productivity and increase earnings.
Attracting and retaining top talent
Mentorship is a cost-effective method to attracting and retaining talent. For example, Deloitte discovered that employees who planned on staying within their organization for more than five years were more likely to have a mentor than not.
Companies that know how to run a mentorship program are bound to have a good reputation in their industry and among job seekers. Statistics show that younger workers value organizations that invest in them and offer growth opportunities.
In fact, a high number of Fortune 500 companies have successful mentoring programs. For organizations that want to attract top talent, a mentoring program that promises access to growth and development can be a key selling point for candidates.
Building up future leaders and high potential employees
Organizations have a hard enough time attracting high potential talent to their companies. When they have them, however, they need to groom them for leadership positions. Mentorship is an effective way to prepare high potential employees.
Further, high potential employees need access to mentors who can help them direct their ambition towards beneficial aims. In this way, high potential employees will seek opportunities for growth within the company rather than outside it.
To learn how to keep your top talent engaged while leading them into meaningful roles where they can make the most impact see our white paper “The Definitive Guide to High Potential Talent Programs.”
Each workplace mentoring program and mentor-mentee pair will benefit from having clearly defined goals. Setting goals can help you get the most from a mentoring relationship and support a successful mentoring program.
Mentoring software is a valuable tool to have when creating a workplace mentoring program. Together can assist in developing mentoring programs that meet the goals of mentors, mentees and organizations.
Contact us for a free demonstration to learn more.