A Mentor’s Guide to Helping Mentees with Goal Setting

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Goal setting is central to the success of any mentoring relationship. As a mentor—whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned pro—you are there to help your mentee achieve their goals.

But that can seem like a daunting task for anyone. Thankfully, there is a way for you to do just that as effectively as possible—and we’re here to help.

6 Ways You Can Help Your Mentee with Goal Setting

1. Help Your Mentee Achieve Clarity with Their Goals

First, have your mentee do a brainstorm of all short-, medium-, and long-term goals for five minutes. This can literally be anything—have them write everything down that comes to mind. Once the five minutes are up, have your mentee decide which goals they’d like to include on their formal goal sheet; then, have them star, circle, or use a checkmark to identify these goals.

Next, it’s time to categorize those goals into three buckets:

  • Habit-forming goals: These are goals your mentee would like to see become habitual behaviour. Since it takes 21-60 days to form a habit, mark these as goals to be achieved in 4-8 weeks.
  • Reach goals: These will be the goals mentees will have to take a few significant steps to reach, so set these to be achieved in 3-12 months.
  • Stretch goals: These are goals that are out of reach for your mentee right now, and so are more likely to be achieved in 2-5 years.

If your mentee is facing an issue when it comes to this process, find out the cause and resolve that instead of putting a plaster over the issue. This will help you both get into a rhythm when it comes to establishing these types of goals.

Once all habit-forming, reach, and stretch goals have been identified, help your mentee identify what obstacles they might be facing while working towards these goals. What should they expect? How can they tackle these difficulties head-on?

2. Help Your Mentee Determine What Is Or Isn’t Feasible

Now that your mentee has a general time frame for each type of goal, you’ll need to help them assess whether or not they’re feasible.

Put each goal through the following lens:

  • What is doable within the general time frame they have established?
  • What’s too ambitious?
  • What’s not ambitious enough?

This will help your mentee further define and specify exactly what they should be focusing on during your time together.

3. Help Your Mentee Visualise What Success Looks Like

Visualisation can help us better understand exactly what we need to do to get where we want to be. Have your mentee close their eyes and visualise what success looks like to them. How do they feel? Where are they? Who do they have around them?

From there, work backwards: What benchmarks do they need to hit in order to make their way towards that vision of success? 

If they’re having trouble with this, it might be helpful to provide examples of other successful people or those who have achieved the type of success or reached the goal your mentee is aiming for. What can your mentee learn from those similar success stories? How can they emulate them while staying true to themselves?

4. Help Your Mentee Establish a Timeline

Remember, a goal with a timestamp is more effective than one without. That’s because, in order to be S.M.A.R.T., goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Therefore, to create a more accurate time frame for each of your mentee’s goals, start by asking them to thoughtfully consider how much time is dedicated to their workload, lifestyle, familial responsibilities, leisure activities, travel, and more. Given all these factors, what’s a reasonable timeline for them to achieve these goals?

To make what can feel like a long journey feel more manageable, chop it up into smaller pieces by having your mentee create “phases” for each goal. These phases will progress from taking small steps, to obtaining the ‘meat’ of the goal, to ultimately achieving that goal.

5. Help Formulate Strategies & Tactics

Your mentee is almost ready to embark on their goal-achieving journey. Before they take their first steps, make sure you have a chance to discuss the overall strategy:

  • What tactics, tools, and individual tasks can they use to support their goal-tackling strategy?
  • What challenges should they set for themselves?

You as a mentor will be a big help here. You may have a course you’d like to recommend or a small project you think would be helpful for them to complete during the outset of their journey. Or, you may want to use small exercises or situational role play to help your mentee get in the right mindset.

6. Help Track Their Progress

Now that your mentee is off and running, make sure they have a system in place to track their progress. This can be completely customised to what works best for them. Start by asking what has helped them achieve a to-do list or major project in the past. Was it a checklist? A timeline? A project management app? If it’s tried and true, it will probably work for them again.

Remind your mentee that checking something off a list isn’t the only way they can make progress. How are they feeling about themselves, their abilities, and their work as they progress towards their goals? This is equally—if not more—important.

A Few Final Tips

Always remember that—as a mentor—you are a guide, not a boss, so let your mentee take the lead on this one. You will be there to encourage them at every step, reassure them during setbacks by sharing your own speedbumps, help them identify what caused their issues, and to celebrate wins.

Knowing how to support mentees during the goal-setting process sets the tone for how productive the mentoring relationship can ultimately be, so make sure to take your time and not rush it!

Found this useful? The blog has tons more resources for mentors and mentees alike!

For program coordinators keen to learn about how Mentorloop does goal setting, click below:

Learn How Our Goal Setting Engine Works

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Grace Winstanely
Grace Winstanely
Grace is the Senior Marketing Manager at Mentorloop. She is dedicated to making content that helps make mentoring more accessible to all and helping Program Coordinators deliver the best mentoring experience for their participants. She's also a keen cook, amateur wine connoisseur, sports fanatic, and lover of all things tropical.

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