How To Set Effective Mentoring Goals

May 11, 2022

Over the last two decades, a lot has changed about how and why we work. Where previous generations primarily worked to achieve a certain standard of living, more people today want more than a job that pays the bills. Instead, many people want a purposeful job, and with the pandemic, more people want flexible jobs.

How To Set Effective Mentoring Goals

With more people looking to get more out of their careers beyond a paycheck, the value of mentoring relationships has grown. At MentorCruise, we connect individuals to industry experts in their field to get the best out of their careers.

Mentoring relationships can set our careers up for brighter futures. But without establishing the right mentorship goals from the jump, we could be missing out on valuable knowledge. Luckily, mentoring goals are easy to get right — and by the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly how to do them.

Why Is Professional Mentoring Important?

Mentoring

It’s not enough to know that something is important. Understanding why it is essential helps build conviction that could help you follow through on a decision. We’ll explore the benefits of a mentoring relationship for both the mentor and mentee. Some of the benefits discussed below apply to both parties.

Strong Communication Skills

Mentoring relationships involve a lot of communication on both sides. The mentor needs to communicate their ideas to the mentee and vice versa. Doing this effectively involves possessing or developing strong communication skills.

Mentoring relationships involve feedback; otherwise, it is hard to track the relationship’s progress. However, as mentors and mentees speak with each other and evaluate the effectiveness of their communication, they can improve how they communicate.

Growing a Professional Network

Mentoring relationships do not occur in isolation. Often, to aid the growth of a mentee, a mentor may introduce them to other people in the same field. Mentees can get advice and support from many individuals, raise their professional profile, and get fresh ideas with a broader professional network.

Develop Leadership Skills

Being a mentor involves teaching, goal-setting, and providing feedback. Doing this effectively requires that mentors have excellent leadership skills. The great thing about mentors developing leadership skills is that their improved efficiency directly affects their productivity at work, a win-win for all parties.

Employee Retention

According to a CNBC and Catalyst report, 41% of survey participants said they were considering leaving their jobs because they felt their employees did not care enough about them.

We can infer that employees will stay at a company if they see that the organization cares about them. Creating a mentorship program is one way for organizations to show that they care about their employees. According to a 2016 survey conducted by Deloitte, millennials were more likely to remain with their employers if they were mentored.

Build Confidence

Younger employees are likely to be low on confidence, especially when starting their careers. This lack of confidence can often affect their ability to do a great job, but a great mentor can help them grow. Confident junior employees can grow into future leaders.

Identifying Talent

Hiring and retaining employees is a problem for many businesses. While mentorship programs cannot solve the hiring aspect of the problem, it helps businesses identify employees that can be groomed for leadership positions. Mentorship programs can also help businesses identify peculiar skills and qualities of employees, which they can use to assign roles.

Why Mentoring Goals Are Important

It can be tempting to let your conversation veer off on tangents during your first mentoring session. Maybe you have questions you’ve been waiting to ask. Maybe there’s advice you desperately need.

That’s all okay — as long as you establish your mentor program goals. Goal setting in your first session has several benefits:

  • It increases accountability to the mentoring relationship. Both mentor and mentee should have goals for the mentorship program. Discussing them together is a great way to connect.
  • Goals create guidelines to railroad the mentoring partnership. By setting out your mentorship program goals in advance, you and your mentor can agree on what is appropriate and inappropriate to discuss. For example, if none of your goals have to do with work-life balance, the mentoring discussion doesn’t ever need to veer towards personal life issues.
  • They motivate both parties to follow through on each session. Goals provide a benchmark to check in on and monitor every meeting. Consistent goal tracking should build a throughline between every mentor-mentee session and determine if the program is successful.
  • Setting goals helps with evaluation. One of the benefits of establishing a mentoring goal is that there is something to measure. Without specific mentorship goals, the mentoring relationship may fail as both parties do not know what they want to achieve. Additionally, it ensures that progress can be measured and changes made when needed.
  • Mentor-mentee goals provide a focus for the mentoring relationship. Goals provide a focus that anyone can work towards. Imagine getting into a car without having a destination or purpose. You’ll be unable to make decisions as simple as what direction to take. In the same way, a mentoring relationship without goals leaves room for speculation and would most likely yield no results.
  • Mentor program goals help both parties continually improve. Many employees will say they want to get better at their jobs, but not everyone does. One reason for this is the absence of a system that helps them improve, and mentoring relationships do that.

An excellent mentorship program will have both mentor and mentee goals that both parties work together to achieve. These goals can then be used to create measurable strategies for achieving the relationship objectives.

How Do You Set a Mentoring Goal?

Mentoring Goals

Goals for a mentorship program should be created independently before session one. They should then be refined collaboratively by the mentor and mentee during the first session. Ideally, your mentoring goals should be specific, measurable, and challenging.

The SMART goals or OKR frameworks are reliable ways to construct this kind of goal statement (We’ll get to those soon). Finally, follow up on the goal regularly and make pivots and adjustments as needed.

Best Practices for Mentoring Goals

Goal setting is a double-edged sword. For example, writing down your goals makes you over 40% more likely to achieve them. But if the goal you write is poorly conceived, your calligraphy won’t matter. Here are two frameworks you can use to create robust goals, plus two examples to illustrate their differences:

SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These are all qualities your goals should have:

Specific goals lead to better performance in 90% of cases. Try to answer four Ws:

  • What is it you want to accomplish?
  • Why do you want to achieve this?
  • Whose help (or what tools) will you need?
  • Where will this happen?

Measurable goals include numbers. They typically meet a benchmark.

Attainable goals are challenging but not impossible. You should be able to draw a roadmap backward from your endpoint that details the connections, tools, and skills you’ll need to be successful.

Relevant goals map to your values, current situation, and adjacent pursuits. Invest in goals only if they feel meaningful.

Time-bound. Failing to put a deadline on a goal can cause procrastination and failure. Avoid this by setting timelines and due dates for your objectives.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

  • Specific and Measurable: Growing my professional network by 20%. They should be connections in my industry who I feel comfortable calling for advice or conversation.
  • Attainable: I will attend one industry networking event weekly.
  • Relevant: I need to gain industry insights to build career momentum.
  • Time-bound: I will have achieved this by the end of the year.

OKRs

Conceived initially as a goal-setting framework for companies, OKRs (objectives and key results) have also grown in popularity for setting personal and professional goals.

  • Objectives are high-level and action-focused tasks.
  • Key results are the benchmarks you use to measure progress against the objective. They’re time-bound and quantitative, usually numbering between three and five. They should answer the question, How will I know I’ve achieved this goal?

The best approach to tackling a big goal is to chunk it into smaller goals: OKRs are the framework to do this! Here’s an example of an OKR framed goal:

Objective: Expand my professional network.

Key results:

  • I will have 20% more industry connections by the end of the year.
  • I attend at least one networking event every month.
  • I set up two coffee chats with other professionals every week.

You’ll notice a significant overlap between these two models, so choose whichever works best for you. For example, in a first session, a mentor’s role will often be to help the mentee narrow down their goals, then identify the specific steps they’ll need to get there.

Mentoring Goals Examples for Mentors

Mentoring relationships are opportunities to share your knowledge and progress your career (simultaneously). But despite representing 50% of the mentor and mentee relationship, mentorship program goals are often neglected.

Here are some common goals for mentorship that mentors can set for themselves:

  • Developing their leadership skills. Many of the skills involved in leadership — encouraging employees, long-term career planning, conflict resolution — can grow in a mentoring relationship. As a mentor, your goal might be to inspire your mentee and make them more engaged with the company.

    You’d track your results by surveying their work satisfaction before and after the program. In measurable terms, that could mean growing their work satisfaction by 30% by the end of the mentoring process.

  • Gaining new perspectives. Since mentors are typically older than their mentees, they may be unfamiliar with current workflows, norms, and culture. Mentoring younger employees is an excellent opportunity to learn newer ideas and mental models.

    So your mentor program goals might be understanding your junior employees’ workflows through reverse mentoring to help them be 30% more productive. This could mean trying out one new (mentee-recommended) productivity tool per month and modifying your instructions around them. Then, measure your results by tracking completion speeds and output quality.

  • Growing their professional reputations. Looking to solidify your standing as an educator and reliable source of information? Mentoring junior employees is a surefire method.

    As a mentor, this could look like getting five more speaking opportunities or requests per month by the end of the quarter. You might achieve this by creating valuable content weekly that your mentee can share with their networks and colleagues.

  • Career advancement. Employers value people who can translate their skills to a team. A successful mentoring relationship shows management that you’re ready for greater responsibilities. Setting SMART goals can help you achieve this.

    Mentoring SMART goals examples include aiming for a promotion to a decision-making role by helping three mentees achieve 40% higher productivity and satisfaction by the end of a three-month mentoring program.

  • Personal reward. Mentoring others is the best way to pay it forward if you’ve benefited from in-house guidance. It also creates a virtuous cycle of learning and support, as nearly 90% of mentees go on to mentor others.

    Personal satisfaction is hard to quantify, but a possible proxy could be how many of your mentees become mentors themselves. A long-term goal might be a mentee-to-mentor conversion rate of 75% within five years of the mentoring program.

Mentee Goals for Mentoring Examples

As a mentee, setting clear and actionable goals from the get-go shows your mentor you’re invested in the relationship. It’s also an excellent way to keep yourself on track — a North Star you can always fall back on. Here are a few popular SMART mentoring goals examples for mentees:

Growing their professional skills. For most people starting a mentoring program, it is a high priority to level up their workplace skills. These are just a few:

  • Public speaking. Your goal might be to level up your presentation skills by delivering 5-minute explainers at the start of every weekly all-hands meeting for two months. Measure via the frequency of presentation and benchmark through audience feedback.
  • Problem-solving. You may want to become faster at overcoming unexpected challenges. Maybe, you set out to reduce the time you spend ‘putting out fires’ by 50% on average over the next year. Achieve this by reading the right books and shadowing a senior leader — like your mentor!
  • Leadership skills. As a leader, you want to make internal communication more accessible. You can measure that by tracking how many questions you receive during or immediately after a meeting. Then, aim to reduce that figure by 30% in one quarter by leveraging better communication models or creating pre-meeting summaries.
  • Career trajectory planning. In a world where the average person will switch careers up to seven times, guidance from a mentor is invaluable for finding direction. This can include setting financial goals, 5-year plans, and more.

    For example, your goal could be to maintain your position but earn a pay raise that’s 40% higher than your current salary. You could achieve this by identifying (and implementing) ways to reduce business expenses or increase lead generation by 50% within six months.

  • Networking opportunities. Upwards of 85% of all open positions are filled via networking. When you and your mentor are in the same field, they can connect you with other industry experts.

    The best part of networking? Your connections will last well beyond your mentoring program. Your goal might be to expand your network by 35% within 2 to 3 months by attending industry events and coffee chats twice a week.

  • Cultural integration. Especially for newer employees, mentors are a critical part of learning a company’s culture and norms. Understanding workplace rules and practices can give mentees a head start in their careers.

    As an example, you could aim to have at least two strong connections with colleagues in every department of your company. Set this up by attending every corporate all-hands meeting or having lunch with someone new once a week.

  • Building promotion opportunities. In general, mentored employees get more promotions than their unmentored peers. Exposure to new possibilities, expanded networks, and professional development all contribute to upward mobility.

    Your objective could be to hold a managerial position by the end of the year. Achieve this by volunteering for at least one project outside your department per quarter and independently starting one new corporate initiative.

  • Improving work-life balance. The mentoring relationship doesn’t have to stop at the workplace — it’s common for a mentee to seek advice about time and career management.

    Your goal might be to spend 50% more time with your family and friends within five months — you could take steps towards this by taking two fewer meetings per week or automating 30% of your job.

Sample Goals for Mentorship for Organizations

Just as mentors and mentees have goals when going into mentorship relationships, organizations should also have objectives. When an organization sets goals for a mentorship program, it can track its effectiveness. Below are some objectives that organizations could have:

Improved Work Culture

The culture of an organization plays a huge role in its success. It affects everything from employee productivity to employee retention. Mentoring programs are a great way to build a company’s culture.

By pairing senior employees with junior employees, an organization can easily transmit its core values. Furthermore, a great culture positions a company as a great place to work, helping them attract the best employees.

Promoting Diversity

More organizations are actively trying to increase diversity on their teams. Having a diverse group is essential for companies in many ways. For example, a diverse team would have different experiences they could leverage when solving problems. A diverse team also helps employee morale by showing that the workplace accepts differences.

Employee Succession

Many organizations have senior staff leaving annually. This could be due to retirement or a desire to pursue new opportunities. Companies often have to replace them. While some opt to hire from outside the company, others promote from within.

For example, employees are motivated to work hard when they see a clear plan for their career progression. It is also a cheaper alternative as organizations can often make these changes within a few days.

How To Achieve Your Mentoring Goals

If you don’t act on your goals, they’re just wishes. By design, mentorship goals should be followed up on at every session, meaning you can probably avoid the issue of inaction. Still, here are some best practices for progressing towards your mentoring goals:

Don’t Be Afraid To Pivot

As you go through the mentoring program, you might realize you’re not quite as passionate about sales as you thought you were. Or maybe leadership skills aren’t as valuable to you as networking opportunities.

As long as these changing ideas are communicated, it’s in the best interest of both parties to pivot goals. That way, the mentor can adjust their advice and approach while the mentee refocuses on more relevant ideas.

Review Your Goals Daily

Assessing your goals regularly is crucial to success. Incorporate them into your daily habits, like checking the news, social media, or email. As you plan for the day, ask yourself: am I taking any steps towards my goals today? At the end of your day, give yourself some credit and review what you’ve done right. It can also be helpful to write down some action items to take into the next day.

As you review your mentor program goals, you can determine whether your strategies are working or whether you should make some changes. When you discover that something is not working, make changes as soon as possible. While your goals don’t have to change, your strategies can.

Categorize Your Goals

You’ll notice that many of your mentee goals group up into categories like Time Management, Career Advancement, Finances, or more. It’s helpful to organize your goals like this to structure your approach.

Creating these buckets makes it easier to draw connections and throughlines between your goals. For instance, improving your cold calling sales skills will also enhance your public speaking skills.

Be Patient

It’s normal to want to achieve your goals quickly. However, worthwhile things take time, and your mentoring goals are not different. Regardless of how hard you work or how committed you are to your mentorship goals, you need time to see the results of your actions.

You may not get significantly better at sales one month after starting a mentoring program. However, if the strategies you employ are good, it is only a matter of time before you start seeing the results you desire.

Your Mentoring Relationship Needs Goals

Mentorship is a critical part of accelerating your career, whether you’re a mentor or mentee. Setting the right goals means creating a successful mentorship — one that pays dividends long after it’s completed.

Now that you know how to set mentoring goals like a pro, it’s time to get mentoring from a trained, experienced expert & be on the career track you want. Book on MentorCruise today to get started!

Grow your career with mentorship!

71% of Fortune 500 companies can't be wrong – mentorship is crucial to career growth. Our free 'state of mentorship' shows you the facts, stats and studies on this career superpower.

Including 10% discount on your next session!

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.