Written By Dr. Liz Selzer
Have you noticed that your mentee has been dragging his or her feet while working toward the goals he or she has set? Are you confused by this since it seems you agreed on the goals together, and that your mentee at that time seemed ready and motivated to move forward?
Goals should be inspiring. When written in the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), they should be easy to work toward in a timely fashion. If you are noticing a lack of enthusiasm, numerous and frequent excuses for not completing the goals, or your mentee seems uncomfortable when you discuss his or her progress, then you need to see if the mentee’s goals should be adjusted. Changing goals is not a sign of failure or lack of dedication but actually the mark of a mentor who cares about the success of the mentoring relationship.
Often mentees are nervous to tell their mentors that their goals are not inspiring them to action. It helps if you as a mentor are open to adjusting goals so they really fit what the mentee hopes to accomplish. A clear and open discussion will help mentees feel comfortable in adjusting the goals so they are motivating, resulting in more progress toward their personal and professional growth. So how do you go about figuring out where the adjustment should be focused? Here are a few tips:
Where to look:
- One of the first areas to assess is whether or not the goal is attainable. Often mentees are not as motivated to complete a goal if they see it as too difficult (they will not know how to start working on it and may feel too defeated to move forward).
- The flip side may also be true, that the goal seems too easy (they will procrastinate because it isn’t challenging and doesn’t give them much of a sense of satisfaction to complete it).
What to do:
- If the goal is too difficult, you can either make the time longer to accomplish the goal, make the goal smaller, or break the goal down into even smaller chunks so it is easier to reach.
- If the goal is too easy, either shorten the time to accomplish it, or increase the difficulty.
Where to look:
- The second place to focus is on the relevance of the goal. Sometimes mentees agree to goals because they think that is what their mentor wants, but the goal is not truly relevant and meaningful to the mentee. If goals are not meaningful, mentees will lack the needed motivation to complete them.
What to do:
- Have a discussion with your mentee about what they are passionate about related to their growth objectives. Focus on the energy that produces. Assure the mentee that you are not tied into any of the specifics of the goal and that you just want to support his or her growth through encouragement and accountability.
The bottom line is to encourage honest and open discussion with mentees about their goals. Keep the dialogue open throughout your relationship. Let your mentee know that you are supportive of his or her efforts and are willing to adjust the process to help them accomplish all they hope to achieve.