Tips for setting and achieving mentoring goals

Workplace mentoring programs work best when there are goals that define the parameters of the program as well as objectives that a mentee wants to achieve.

As an organization that wants to know how to start a mentorship program, it should have some objectives that relate to the expectations for the initiative. These are often things that a company would like to change such as turnover rates, employee engagement or diversity in the workplace.

For each mentorship, the mentee and mentor define and work on goals together. Usually, these are things that the mentee would like to accomplish. The mentor offers advice, encouragement and feedback to help the mentee achieve their goals. In turn, these mentorship achievements feed into the larger success of the workplace mentoring program.

Tips for setting goals

To develop a successful workplace mentoring program, an organization needs to use the objectives defined for the program to create goals. It is important to have key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measurable to gauge the mentoring program.  For example, if the goal of a workplace mentoring program is to reduce the employee turnover rate then a goal could be to see a five percent reduction in turnover in the first year. In that scenario, the KPI would be the percentage of employees who left the company in the past year.

Furthermore, when it comes to setting goals, either for the mentoring program or the mentorship, they should be broken down into short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals are the little steps or changes that can be done right now that will pave the way for the success of long-term goals. While a company may want to see a more significant drop in the employee turnover rate, setting a smaller goal of five percent in the first year is a little change that can be built upon and a larger drop in the turnover rate can be seen in the long-term.

It is important to remember that the number of goals or objectives that are defined should be realistic and not overwhelming. For a mentorship relationship that means setting one or two goals that can be reasonably accomplished over a year or so.

SMART goal setting

Using the SMART technique is recommended for those who want to define achievable goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Whenever you are setting goals, try to ensure that they meet all these criteria.

Specific: the more detailed we are about what it is we would like to accomplish, the more focused we can be on how to get there. For example, if a mentee wants to have a management position at the organization, they should set out to acquire and hone the skills they need to be a good leader.

Measurable: defining goals that can be measured is a big part of achieving them. Whatever goal or outcome you want to see, find ways to measure it so you know that you are progressing. It can also help keep you motivated if you can see how far you have come.

Achievable: set goals that you are truly able to accomplish. Consider what obstacles there are in your way and how you can overcome them. These could be a lack of training or money that may prevent you from achieving your goals. Set goals that do not have obstacles you cannot overcome.

Realistic: is your goal something that you can realistically do? Does achieving it rely on someone else? One such goal might be to get promoted in the company, but that depends on external circumstances. It depends on the hiring manager and the qualifications of other candidates who apply. However, taking more training so you are better qualified for a promotion at work is a realistic goal that you can achieve.

Timely: set a deadline for accomplishing your goal. Most mentorships last for about a year, which is a good timeline to achieve some goals. In addition to setting a timely goal, you can break it down into smaller steps that you can take each day or week to help get you to your goal.

Ways to achieve goals

Once you have your mentoring goals defined there are some extra steps you can take to improve your chance at accomplishing what you have set out to do. These include:

  • Write your goals down. It has been said that those who write their goals down on paper have a better chance of achieving them.
  • Review them. Remember to check your goal list often so you don’t get distracted and forget about them. This means keep them with you, on paper, your laptop or your smartphone so you can spend some time periodically looking them over.
  • Maintain a calendar. Tracking down each day what you have done to accomplish your goals can help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Rewards. Give your mentee some encouragement by rewarding their hard work. Even if they have not completed their goal, smaller rewards for their efforts can help keep them on track and motivated.
  • Tell others. Letting friends, family or co-workers know about the goals can provide other sources of encouragement for a mentee. It can also allow others to help a mentee accomplish their goals.
  • Use mentoring software. Mentoring software can be an effective aid for achieving goals in your workplace mentoring program. Through scheduling, email integration and reporting, programs like Together can produce data that demonstrates the success of a workplace mentorship. By setting goals that are measurable organizations can define the type of information that mentoring software records and reports on, which assists management in determining whether the goals are being met.


Essentially mentoring is about setting and achieving goals. By thinking through goals, keeping them realistic and defining ways to measure success, a workplace mentoring program and participants have a better chance of being successful.

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