Make yourself a priority with mentoring
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It can sometimes be hard to make time for yourself or to put energy into your own development when you are in the midst of day-to-day responsibilities and deadlines at work.
Making yourself a priority might feel impossible, but it can occur within a mentoring relationship.
If you’re not sure where to start or what to do next, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are four steps to help you prioritise your mentoring plans and help you move toward accomplishing your goals.
Step 1: Identify your goals.
What do you want to accomplish through your mentoring relationship? Write down your goals – all of them. Put together your dream list of what you want to tackle during your relationship. You can brainstorm this list with your mentor.
What can you help your mentee accomplish? As you and your mentee consider goals for this mentoring relationship, be clear about which ones you can help the mentee work on.
You may not be the best person to help with all of their goals, and that is OK. The important thing is that you and your mentee acknowledge this, and if you feel comfortable doing so, you might be able to recommend other people for them to connect with.
Step 2: Weight your goals.
Mentees: OK, you’ve made a list of all the things you’d love to accomplish with your mentor. Great! Now you need to add a dose of reality into the mix.
You most likely can’t accomplish all of the goals on your list, so now it’s time to ask yourself which ones are the most important to you.
To do this, weight your goals. You can do this by force-weighting each (i.e., give them a numeric value, such as numbering them one to five, or 10, or however many goals are on the list), or you can give them a letter grade (with very important items receiving an A or B, while less important items get a C, D or F).
You could even create a scoring system and assign each goal with points based on factors such as if the goal will impact your career, if the mentor can help you address it, etc.
To help your mentee weight the goals on their list and determine which are the most important to them, provide feedback on which goals you think can be accomplished within the timeframe of your relationship.
You likely have experience with some of the items on the list and can provide insight on what is realistically feasible within the time constraints of your relationship.
Put together your dream list of what you want to tackle
Use this as an opportunity to share what you’ve experienced, while also listening to your mentee to truly hear what they are saying about what is important to them.
It is a great chance to practice being present with your mentee.
Step 3: Refine your list.
After weighting your list of goals, you next need to reevaluate the entire list and reorder the list if needed. You should take into consideration your mentor’s feedback and your own opinion of how important each goal is.
Adjust your list as needed so that you are left with a revised list of goals that starts with your most important and flows down to the least important. From there, you should come to an agreement with your mentor on which of the goals you will focus on during your relationship.
And keep in mind, you can adjust this list throughout the relationship, so if you meet the goals you set out to accomplish, you can always add more if you are both open to it.
Mentors: Give your mentee support on whatever their final weighted list of goals is. Remember, this relationship should be focused on the mentee’s development.
If they decide they want to tackle a goal that you don’t feel well-suited to help with, be upfront about your hesitation and consider recommending that they find someone who can help them with that specific goal.
This may mean they need to find a new mentor for the relationship, or it could just mean that they need to find a new mentor or a coach for one specific area of their development (and that you can still be their mentor on the other areas).
The critical thing here is that you have an open and honest discussion with your mentee about these issues.
Step 4: Take action.
Mentees and Mentors:
Now comes the easy part. Get to work on those goals!
Mentoring is not a static activity nor is it a once-and-done event. It is a lifelong pursuit of learning to help better ourselves and further our development.
Focus on meeting your current mentoring goals, and then reevaluate to see what your next mentoring adventure could entail.
And most importantly, never stop learning or taking time for your own personal and professional development.
About the author
Laura Francis is chief knowledge officer at River.
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