Goal setting blog post (1)

by Hello Mentor

Goal setting – A mentor’s guide


Helping your mentee formulate realistic goals for the mentorship and beyond could be your first big challenge as a mentor. But it is the key to setting your mentorship up for success.

Are you reading this thinking ‘But I don’t have a mentee nor a mentor‘? Hello Mentor provides a mentorship between experienced professionals and STEM students in the Netherlands to bridge the gab between study and work. Click here to apply.

Goal setting can be a struggle for mentees. Some mentees might know exactly where their career is headed, but lose track of the seemingly small steps in between; some might struggle with being pulled into too many directions at once that they don’t know which road to take; and some might just want to soak up all the expertise and experience of their mentor, focusing on you rather than on themselves.

Does any of these statements sound like your mentee and you wonder what to do?

Here are three tips on how to approach goal setting by our mentors who joined the last Mentor Intervision session:

Listen carefully! Let the mentee lead the session and try to identify an underlying read thread or the most basic question at the core. What story are they telling?

A mentor’s tip, if your mentee is pulled into too many directions at once.

Start by answering all their questions. Giving them insight into your career path might trigger your mentee to establish a goal based on your own story.

A mentor’s tip if your mentee’s focus lies on your rather than on their development.

Additionally, giving your mentee the task of presenting their future self (1, 3 or 5 years from now) in a slide will challenge them to reflect on what they really want to achieve professionally.

A mentor’s tip if your mentee doesn’t know what their career goal is.

After you identified their profound uncertainty, their deepest interest, or their overarching career goal, here is how you set attainable goals with your mentee:

The GROW model.

The GROW Model was developed by Sir John Whitmore and colleagues as a coaching device in the 1980s. The acronym GROW stands for Goal, Current Reality, Options (of Obstacles) and Will (or Way forward). Below you will find an adaptation to the mentorship.

Establish the Goal

In essence, you and your mentee define a behaviour that requires change and structure it as a goal they want to achieve. Make sure that it is a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

How will you know that the goal has been achieved? Does this goal fit with your career objectives?

Examine the Current Reality

Ask your mentee to describe their current reality. Take time to ask in-depth questions about specific situations, context, and background. Here you might see a solution emerge.

What is happening now? What is the result of this? Have you taken any steps towards your goal?

Explore the Options

Now it is time to determine all the possible options for reaching their objective. Help your mentee brainstorm for viable options; then help them decide on the best ones.

What else could you do? What if this constraint were removed? What are the advantages or disadvantages of each option? What obstacles stand in your way?

Top tip: Offer your own suggestions only after you let them come up with ideas. Let them lead the session and guide them in the right direction without making decisions for them.

Establish the Will

The final step, now that your mentee has a good idea of how to achieve their goal, is to nudge them to commit to specific actions in order to move toward their goal.

So, what will you do now and when? What could stop you from moving forward and how will you overcome this? How can you keep yourself motivated? When do you need to review progress; daily, weekly, monthly?

Top tip: Decide on a date when you’ll both review their progress. This creates accountability and gives the mentee the chance to change their approach if the initial plan is not working.

What are you doing to set your mentorship up for success?

How do you support your mentee in setting goals?

Questions for self reflection

What is your biggest challenge as a mentor?

Join us for a Mastering Mentorship session on January 19th at 12:00 to reflect on it and receive guidance and valuable input from your peers!

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