6 Tips for setting and achieving your mentoring goals [For mentors and mentees]

Whether you're a mentor or mentee, you need SMART goals for your relationship.

Noah Edis

Published on 

March 6, 2023

Updated on 

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Workplace mentoring programs are highly effective methods for increasing your career, whether you’re a mentor or mentee. 

For example, a mentorship program can provide opportunities for new or seasoned employees to develop relationships with more experienced professionals, learn new skills, and obtain advice and support. 

In addition, mentors also benefit from the relationship. In guiding their mentee, they gain new insights, develop their leadership skills, and expand their professional networks.

Why is it important to take advantage of a workplace mentorship program?

There are a lot of studies, showing the benefits of mentorship: Learning, performance, satisfaction, and balance—they are all positively impacted through mentoring relationships.

Here are a few ways you mentoring relationship can benefit you in the long run:

Enhanced career prospects

One of the benefits of workplace mentoring relationships is that they can help individuals advance their careers. Studies show mentees are five times more likely to receive promotions and raises than those without mentors.

Why is this? Mentors help their mentees develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers. They can also provide them with advice and support and connect them with opportunities they may not have otherwise had access to. As a result, mentees are often able to progress more quickly in their careers and achieve their goals.

Improved problem-solving skills

Mentors can help their mentees learn to anticipate potential problems and develop a plan to prevent them from happening. They can also help their mentees learn how to identify the warning signs of a problem before it becomes too big.

If a problem does occur, mentors can help their mentees develop a plan to address it. This may include steps to take to resolve the issue, as well as steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Increased job satisfaction

Mentees also often report feeling more satisfied with their jobs after participating in a workplace mentoring program. This is because they are able to get more out of their jobs and feel like they are making a valuable contribution.

A study of over 8000 employees found 91% of those who had a mentor reported higher job satisfaction and were more likely to stay with their current employer. Even mentors show a 20% higher retention rate after participating in mentoring relationships. 

If you feel like your career is in a rut, re-read the previous paragraph again. If you take your mentoring relationship seriously, it can profoundly change your perspective on your career.

Enhanced networking opportunities

Networking is an important part of any career, and mentees who are able to build strong networks are more likely to be successful. Mentors can help their mentees develop the skills they need to network effectively and make the most of their connections.

This is especially important for those who are new to a company or who are looking to move up the ladder. Mentors can introduce their mentees to their colleagues and contacts, which can help mentees advance their careers. They can also help their mentees learn how to develop positive relationships with said contacts and branch out further even after the mentorship is over.

Why is it important to have mentoring goals at the start of your relationship?

A successful mentoring relationship is a two-way street, with both parties contributing to the relationship. The objective of a mentoring relationship should be to help the mentee grow and develop their skills. But to do so, it’s critical to have road markers to indicate progress. 

Here are a few reasons to set mentoring goals at the start of your relationship:

Mentoring goals increase accountability

If you’re not meeting your goals, it can be easy to slack off or become complacent. A mentoring goal provides a structure for the relationship and helps to keep both parties accountable

A mentee knowing that their mentor is expecting them to achieve a specific goal will help the mentee to stay focused and motivated.

Mentoring goals serve as an agenda for the mentorship relationship

One of the benefits of having mentoring goals is they help to keep the mentorship relationship on track. 

Without specific goals, the mentorship relationship can easily become derailed as the mentor and mentee focus on things that are not necessarily related to the objectives of the mentorship. 

By having clear goals, both parties can be more mindful of the time they are spending together and ensure they are making the most of it.

It builds consistent goal tracking

One of the advantages of having mentoring goals is that they enable you to track progress. 

It can be difficult to track progress if you don’t have anything specific to measure it against. By setting goals, both the mentor and the mentee can develop a system for tracking progress and discussing development on a regular basis.

It helps both parties to continually improve

When both the mentor and mentee are aware of the goals of the relationship, it helps to keep both parties continually improving. 

The mentor can keep an eye out for things the mentee can do to work on their goals, and the mentee can be proactive in seeking out advice and guidance from the mentor. 

This way, the mentee can make the most of the relationship and continue to grow, even after the initial stages of the mentoring relationship have passed.

It serves as a form of evaluation

A mentoring goal can also be used as a way to measure success. 

Once a goal has been achieved, the mentee can reflect on what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown. This can be a great way to assess the effectiveness of the mentoring relationship and see where there is potential for improvement.

Tips for setting goals 

For the workplace mentoring relationship to be successful, the mentor and mentee need to create goals that are appropriate for the mentee. The goals themselves will vary depending on the industry, but the criteria for creating said goal(s) should be the same, regardless of the profession.

When setting goals, it is important to remember the acronym S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

This model will not only help define goals for the mentee but increase the likelihood they are met.

Specific: The goal should be specific, with a target that is measurable. Pairs will need to choose a specific task for the mentee to complete that is straightforward and easily defined.

Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable so that it can be assessed and tracked. For example, expecting a task to be completed "quickly" can cause confusion for the mentee, as the expectation isn't clear. Finishing said task in one hour is easier to measure.

Achievable: The goal should be something that the mentee can reasonably accomplish with the help of their mentor. This takes into account the mentor's availability, skills, and knowledge, as well as the mentee's previous experience.

Relevant: The goal should be relevant to the mentee's position and industry. Tailor the goal to address a specific need or issue that the mentee is experiencing in their job.

Time-bound: The goal should have a specific date associated with it by which it will be completed. This will help the mentee stay on track and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

To help you get started, here are six additional tips to help you create and achieve the goals you set in your mentoring relationship:

1. Encourage the mentee to take ownership of the goal.

As a mentor, make sure the mentee is involved in selecting and setting the goal. This will help the mentee feel more invested in the outcome and will increase their motivation to achieve it.

2. Set goals that are challenging yet achievable.

Goals should push the mentee to improve but should not be so lofty that they seem impossible. The mentor can help the mentee to set goals that are challenging yet achievable.

3. Develop a plan of action.

Once the goal is set, the mentor and mentee should develop a plan of action that will help them reach it. This will include defining the steps that need to be taken and the resources required.

4. Check-in regularly.

The mentor and mentee should discuss the goal regularly to make sure they are on the same page. This will help to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.

5. Offer support and guidance.

The mentor should offer support and guidance as the mentee works to achieve their goal. This includes providing feedback and offering advice when needed.

6. Celebrate the achievement of the goal.

Once the goal is met, celebrate the mentee’s success. This will help to reinforce the importance of setting and achieving goals.

Bottom line

Every mentoring relationship is unique and will have different outcomes for both mentor and mentee depending on how it is handled.

By setting clear, achievable goals at the start, both the mentor and mentee can maximize the benefits of the relationship. 

The goals that are set should follow the S.M.A.R.T. model to ensure that both parties are on the same page and that the mentoring relationship is productive.

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