The Framework for a Mentoring Process
No doubt you and your mentor spent the majority of your first meeting getting to know each other and developing your Mentoring Partnership Agreement. The form that a mentoring contract or agreement takes is not as important as its contents and its intent. Although a formal contract is not necessary, the very act of putting something in writing can help the partners better understand what the relationship is to accomplish, and agree on the practicalities of how it will actually work.
Planning puts our goals into action. Our next step, the Mentoring Action Plan helps the you translate your goals into easily executable and attainable steps. The mentoring action plan will help you maximize your success in this mentoring process.
Developing the Mentoring Action Plan
Understanding Goal Setting
A key component of your Mentoring Action Plan is your ability to set goals. A goal is defined as an event, circumstance, or condition a person strives to attain. You will find that goal setting increases your chances for success because your goals will serve as self-motivators helping you to focus your efforts in a consistent direction. Here is a systematic approach for setting goals:
Step 1: Creating Your Personal Vision Statement
Creating your personal vision statement is one of the most powerful and significant things you will ever do to take leadership of your life. A personal vision statement is to be used as a frame of reference to make life's decisions. They are intended to be a clear, concise expression of an individual's main purpose in life. Generally used as a starting point and motivational tool for personal growth, an effective personal vision statement requires plenty of thought and meditation.
Make a list. Included in your list should be your personal perceptions about your unique capacities and limitations. Each individual has his or her own, distinctive strengths and weaknesses. Your vision statement should address any improvements you wish to make on existing weaknesses, and the overall conditioning of your current strengths. Synthesize what you have learned about yourself to write your own statement. Remember that it is a picture of how you see yourself after you have achieved your objective, but written in the present tense.
Go to your Mentoring Workbook and complete the worksheet titled "Personal Vision Statement." This information will be invaluable in assisting you in the next step, goal setting.
Step 2: Establish Specific and Realistic Goals
Goals support your personal vision statement and must be specific and realistically obtainable depending on your capabilities. There are a number of ways of determining your needs. For example review your last performance valuation to identify areas for development. Read job descriptions for positions you would like to hold in the next three to five years and ascertain what skills you would need to qualify for these positions. Note that it is the role of your mentor to tactfully encourage you to set goals that represent a challenge for you but that will not lead to the frustration of failure.
As you are developing your goals, remember:
S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable
In your Mentoring Workbook, locate the exercise titled "Brainstorming Exercise: Professional Development Goals." In the space provided, write down all areas that you could improve in your professional life. While doing this exercise, make use of the questions below to help you:
- What do you want out of life?
- Where do you want to be a year from now?
- Where do you want to be three to five years from now?
- Can these objectives be attained with your current skill set?
- If not, what are your current resources and what skill do you want to pick up?
- What are your personal weaknesses? What character traits do you want to develop?
- What kinds of sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve your objectives?
- Why are you trying to achieve those objectives and are they consistent with your philosophy of life?
- Are you happy with your networking circle? If not, what do you want to do to improve on it?
After writing down all of your goals, assign each a priority and begin to think about what you need to do to achieve your goals.
Step 3: Set Deadlines
Setting specific time limits for goals encourages action and commitment. Deadlines can be set for different periods of time, such as daily, short-term, and long-term, and a realistically set deadline allows you to measure your performance. You will be recording your deadlines on your Mentoring Action Plan.
Step 4: Develop Your Action Plan
Your action plan describes, step by step, how you are planning to reach your goals by the deadlines you have set. A template for your Action Plan can be viewed here. These steps are recorded on your Mentoring Action Plan and will be reviewed with your mentor.
Click here to read "Creating Practical Action Plans," an article that demonstrates how you begin with an end result in mind and move backward to the construction of specific steps to achieve that result.
In your Mentoring Workbook, locate the exercise titled "Mentoring Action Plan Worksheet." In the space provided, for each of your goals developed in steps two and three, write down:
- what skills or knowledge you will need to acquire to achieve the goal,
- the outcome or how you will know when you have accomplished your goal,
- the action steps needed to be completed
- the resources needed
- your target completion date.
Once the resources are identified and recorded, your mentor can often aid you in acquiring the proper tools, equipment and human resources that you need to accomplish your objectives by your deadline.
Putting it all together
Putting it all together is a complex process because, although this course of action provides the greatest opportunity for nurturing learning and development, the mentoring partners experience vulnerability to misunderstandings and road blocks that can derail the relationship. Even if you have followed the steps in this training and, as a result, your goals are clearly articulated, the objectives well defined, and the action steps identified, every relationship must find its own path.
For additional information, click here or go to your Mentoring Workbook for a summary list of "Tips for Mentees."
Bringing Closure to Your Mentoring Relationship
All relationships evolve and change. By their very definition, mentoring relationships are developmental and focused on the transformation of the mentee from novice to professional in their chosen field. When this has occurred, an integral part of the closure experience is a highly focused conversation about the specific learning that has taken place as a result of the mentoring relationship. Ask yourself:
- Did we acknowledge our accomplishments?
- Did we evaluate learning outcomes?
- Did we discuss the application of the new learning?
- Were our milestones celebrated?
As soon as it is determined that the goals and objectives of your partnership have been met, it is time to reflect on what has been learned, celebrate and move on. Now is the time for you, as a “retiring” mentee to focus on what you have learned, what made the mentoring succeed, and how you can apply those reflections to future mentoring relationships.
Your future mentees are out there waiting for you,
and nothing would honor your mentor more
than following in his or her footsteps.