Setting mentorship goals and objectives is at the core of a successful mentoring relationship. When you start a relationship out with strong mentoring goals and objectives, you are creating the best chance for success.
While your mentee is likely entering into mentoring with some existing goals, they will be looking to you for guidance in clarifying the actionable steps they should take to get there.
Your job as a mentor is to work with your mentee to set, clarify, and accomplish your mentorship objectives, and not to do the work of revamping their business for them.
Avoid common mistakes and ensure a positive experience by agreeing on your mentorship goals up front.
You may also have some mentor goals of your own in terms of skills you hope to practice. Are you looking for a meaningful experience? Want to develop your business and leadership skills?
You became a mentor for a reason, so consider your own goals as you work with an entrepreneur.
To help you start setting objectives together, we’ve prepared a 6-step goal-setting process to guide you through your initial conversations.
1. Work together to clarify your mentoring goals
Start by asking your mentee, “What is the one bottleneck that’s stopping you from growing your business?”
Asking this question will help you and your mentee prioritize and align on any goals you set with the core business problem they’re facing, rather than with less important issues or specific solutions that they may have jumped to prematurely.
They may come to the table with a simple answer, like “I’m not making enough money,” but that just speaks to the broad issue, not the root cause.
Help your mentee unpack the problem to arrive at a more specific answer, like “I’m not attracting enough customers to achieve profitability.”
A focused answer like this clearly articulates your mentee’s objectives and makes it easy to identify the appropriate goals—in this case, attracting more customers and increasing profitability.
Your mentee may need guidance to figure out the root cause, so be sure to dig deeper to ask them about specific areas such as:
- Customers, audience, and reach
- Product and pricing
- Fixed and variable overhead
- Assets, liabilities, and liens
2. Determine how realistic goals are
Working toward a goal that can’t be accomplished will likely lead to frustration and disengagement, so it’s important to determine whether or not your mentee’s goal is feasible given their circumstances.
Start by asking your mentee the following questions:
- How did you come up with this goal?
- Do you have the time and resources available to meet this goal?
- Are you fully dedicated to achieving this goal?
- Are you aware of the sacrifices this goal will require and are you willing to make them?
If you feel like their goal is not realistic, as a mentor it is important to be honest and encourage them to direct their time and energy toward goals they are more likely to reach or smaller milestones along the path to achieving the long-term goal.
Setting realistic goals can make all the difference in finding the momentum to keep persevering for an entrepreneur.
3. Establish benchmarks for measuring success
Once you’ve determined that your mentee’s goals are realistic, work with them to define what success could look like.
Help them identify specific indicators of success—e.g., metrics like a profit margin or a number of new customers per month.
Next, take a benchmark of what those metrics have looked like up to now and assist your mentee in setting a numerical target for each indicator that will tell them exactly how they’re doing at a glance. For example:
- Gain 10 new customers
- Increase daily sales by 30%
Having benchmarks in place will help your mentee sustain motivation and encouragement as they work toward meeting these goals.
4. Set a realistic timeline.
Now that your mentee has defined goals, key metrics, and targets, it’s important to create a schedule for achieving them.
Your mentee may already have a deadline in mind, but it’s important to steer them toward an achievable timeframe.
Don’t be afraid to ask your mentee to push for challenging deadlines, just make sure that they are realistic and achievable timeframes.
Similar to when you were determining the goal’s overall feasibility, keep your mentee’s circumstances in mind by asking the following questions:
- When are you prepared to start this project?
- How much time can you commit to your goal each day, week, month?
- Are there any resources or circumstances that might prevent you from meeting this deadline?
Based on these answers, assign a date to the numerical targets you’ve established. For example:
- Gain 10 new customers by the end of the next quarter
- Increase daily sales by 30% within the next 6 months.
Set a timeline that’s long enough for the goal to be realistic, but short enough for the mentee to stay motivated.
5. Define strategies and map out the path to success.
Now that you have a target and a deadline in place, it’s time to help your mentee define the actionable steps that will help them reach their goal.
Start by determining your overall strategy. For example, if your mentee’s goal is to attract new customers, you could suggest that they:
- Engage a PR firm to get the word out about their service offering.
- Launch a search engine marketing campaign to increase the number of potential customers visiting their website.
- Build an advertising campaign for Facebook and Instagram.
- Develop an incentive program for referring customers.
Or if their goal is to increase daily sales, you might suggest that they:
- Create a rewards program to increase customer loyalty
- Offer special deals to increase sales numbers
- Develop an email campaign to bring previous customers back
Once you and your mentee have agreed on the overall strategy, map out individual tasks in a calendar.
Set specific “mini-goals” by day, week, or month—e.g., “launch my company’s Facebook page by the end of next week” or “hire a PR firm by the end of this month.”
These mini-goals help keep the momentum going to ensure that your mentee can stay on track with their timeline.
6. Encourage your mentee to track their progress frequently.
Once your mentee has put their plan in place, make sure they are tracking their progress using the benchmarks you established together.
When your mentee can see how close or far away they are from hitting a target, it can be extremely motivating and encouraging. That will help keep them engaged and on the path toward achieving their goals.
Goal setting is a critical part of initiating a successful mentoring relationship.
By following these practices, you can ensure a productive, rewarding experience for both you and your mentee.
Ultimately, it’s about finding a system that works best for your unique mentoring relationship, so feel free to use our suggestions as a starting point for developing a goal-setting process that makes the most sense for you.