Why and How to Adjust Mentoring Goals

Amanda Dreher - Monday, June 20, 2016


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.


Mentoring News in the Everyday

Amanda Dreher - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mentoring is all around us. We see the word thrown around on social media, the news and magazines. "Mentoring" has become a common buzzword. However, we don't often take the time to really consider how pervasive and impactful mentoring relationships really are. Let's take a quick peek at a few recent headlines to see how Mentoring is affecting our everyday.



“Bill Russell: We are nothing without our mentors”

by Bill Russell at



“Mentoring Programs Aim to Increase High School Graduates”

by Alexandra Pannoni at



“Obama, basketball star Stephen Curry team up on mentorship PSA”




“Sheryl Sandberg on Finding Your Mentor”

by Norah O’Donnell at



“European Summit on Mentoring”


Reciprocal Mentoring: Redefining the Mentoring Relationship

Amanda Dreher - Monday, May 23, 2016


“We don’t have enough senior people to put together a mentoring initiative, but we know we need it. What should we do?” Reciprocal Mentoring


 “We want to make mentoring available to all of our staff but don’t know how that will work. What can we do?” Reciprocal Mentoring


 “We want to create a learning community, one where people learn and share learning with others on a regular basis. How do we do that?” Reciprocal Mentoring


What is reciprocal mentoring?

Reciprocal mentoring is a relationship structure that harnesses the power of mentoring into a mutually beneficial relationship where each participant takes turns being the mentor and the mentee. Since much of the power of mentoring lies in the accountability and encouragement, both participants can be trained to be in both roles. This can double the potential for learning without doubling the number of participants. The mutuality of reciprocal mentoring breaks down barriers and prejudices, allowing for mentoring relationships to cross generational, global and gender biases.

Training and setting appropriate expectations are key to making this work, but once people understand the process, it moves forward quickly. The beauty of reciprocal mentoring is that it can be done in any environment because it doesn’t rely on expertise or seniority. In this way, it involves more of your staff, raising engagement levels of a broader base in your organization. Mentoring becomes a benefit, not an obligation. Experts can still give their expertise, but this frees them up to do that with more people (since they are not tied into just one mentoring scenario). It can exponentially increase the effectiveness of your mentoring efforts


How do we do this?

In past mentoring structures, the relationship has often been hierarchical with the mentor giving the mentee advice, expertise and wisdom. With reciprocal mentoring, both people in a mentoring pair serve as mentor and mentee. Sometimes they switch off every other meeting, sometimes they hold both roles in the same meeting. In the mentor role, they hold each other accountable and give each other encouragement and feedback on their goals process. In the mentee role, they work on goals and process learning. Both brainstorm where the mentee can find experts, resources and role models to work with to promote their learning (these things do not have to be provided by the mentor). The bottom line is that each person has someone in their corner encouraging them to grow personally and professionally in an integrated process.


Case Study: The Network of International Christian Schools (NICS)

When the CEO of NICS came to me, his genuine concern was evident on his face. The turnover rate for his teachers was extremely high. And while this was hurting their bottom line, his focus was truly on his teachers well-being. He wanted his teachers to feel valued. He wanted them to know they were important to NICS. He thought that a mentoring initiative would help toward this end, but there were so few senior teachers to be considered as mentors that giving all of the newer teachers a mentor was just not possible. As we talked, the answer became clear: Reciprocal mentoring. By using reciprocal mentoring, we were able to include all of the teachers in a mentoring relationship. The mentoring pairs took turns. One week a person would be a mentor. The next they would switch roles and that person would now be the mentee. Because the power of mentoring is in the accountability and encouragement, we found that with training and structure, these relationships were very successful. NICS reported a reduction in turnover and the teachers reported feeling valued and glad they were a part of NICS’s mission.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer


5 Misconceptions About Corporate Mentoring Programs

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The idea that mentoring is a key ingredient for employee growth, retention and engagement has caused many organizations to quickly adopt the idea of promoting a mentoring initiative. Too often, however, they go into it without the proper preparation and the end result is not at all what they had hoped for. The following 5 misconceptions are often the root of the dissatisfaction and frustration.


Misconception #1:  


Mentoring programs should just happen—it’s a natural process.

While mentoring is a natural process in that relationships occur with natural affinity, productive mentoring relationships benefit from training, structure and setting expectations. Unstructured, or natural mentoring will still occur in a learning environment, but coupled with a structured initiative, you will supercharge your efforts. 



Misconception #2:


Mentoring programs should be based on matching people who possess specific expertise with people who need that expertise for professional development.

This type of matching has worked and will continue to be effective if it fits the strategic goals of the organization and mentoring initiative. However, this is not the only criteria for matching pairs. Since the power of mentoring lies in accountability and encouragement (not just in a hierarchy of expertise), there are a number of matching paradigms that may actually work better for what you are trying to achieve. For example, mentor matches may occur across divisions to reduce divisional silos, or across gender lines to elevate women in leadership. 



Misconception #3:


Mentoring relationships are long term, lasting many years in some cases.

While informal relationships may continue for a lifetime, structured mentoring relationships are more effective if they last only six months to one year. This allows for multiple mentors throughout a career, resulting in multiple learning opportunities from multiple perspectives and skill sets. 



Misconception #4:


Having any mentoring program is better than not having one at all.

Without structure, training and setting appropriate expectations for the participants, mentoring initiatives can actually become a negative experience rather than a positive one. It is unfortunate when a potentially strong mentoring experience fizzles due to unclear parameters, unequal expectations, or a lack of training on how to really maximize the process for both mentors and mentees. 



Misconception #5:


Mentoring is a “nice to have” option to encourage personal growth.

Mentoring is more than a “nice to have,” it is a must. It is a bold yet accurate assertion that every organization should be utilizing the power of mentoring to maximize engagement, retention, productivity, strong corporate culture and career path growth. Mentoring utilizes your existing human resources, costs relatively little to implement, and creates measurable results. 


Mentoring is a powerful tool that every organization should utilize, but if done poorly it can have more of a negative affect than a positive one. Understanding the above misconceptions can springboard you to a place where you can apply mentoring to your current organizational goals thus making a real difference in the work experience and productivity of your employees and ultimately impacting the bottom line of your organization.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer



Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought as I sat in the back of the classroom where the instructor had just informed us that finding a mentor was a requirement for the final year of the master’s program I was working through. It seemed a waste of my precious little time. Give me books and papers and I can crank through this program and get that coveted “piece of paper” as evidence of my academic accomplishment. But as life would have it, I could not graduate without this seemingly useless time waste, so a mentee I became. To my surprise, the perception of the softness of this learning method was quickly dispelled. I soon saw the often intangible value of mentoring as the most significant mode for truly learning critical personal and leadership development skills that no book or paper could have provided. I had to take a new and radical view toward this idea of “mentoring.”  


Mentoring has a rich history. It has been around as long as there have been people learning life skills and trades from others. The word mentor, with its origins in Greek mythology meaning a trusted advisor and friend, has been morphing over time to reflect new attitudes toward learning and personal development. Moving from the traditional hierarchical, top down type of relationship to one whose benefits are recognized now as more mutually beneficial, mentoring has become a synergy of perspectives, experiences and respect.


In an effort to capture the essence of this powerful tool for personal and professional development, a new understanding of what mentoring entails becomes imperative. It is not a stagnant exercise but rather one with powerful life. It is not one directional but vibrantly interactive. It is not about the mentor creating a “mini-me” but rather about helping a mentee bypass through their limitations, grasp onto their unique strengths, and power through to new growth activities.

The word “mentor” often has intellectual and emotional baggage for people, some helpful, some not as much. In an effort to jolt us out of any preconceived  notions of old paradigms, I encourage the use of a new term:MENTORICITY. That is, mentoring powered with electricity, simplicity, veracity, and authenticity.


Mentoricity = Mentoring +  


Electr - icity:

It is the spark to jump start significant life change and personal development that propels us forward.


Simpl - icity:

Although much of its beauty is in the simplicity of the process, the results are exponential.


Vera - city:

This approach drives personal development through the veracity provided by regular accountability and encouragement.


Authent - icity:

It increases our authenticity as a leader when we learn on a personal interactive level rather than a “one size fits all” process.


As a result of this super charged, radical view of mentoring, MENTORICITY has life, gives life, appreciates life, transforms life. Take hold of your opportunity for MENTORICITY. It will be the best personal and professional development decision you have ever made.


Written by Dr. Liz Selzer


Mentor Leadership Team




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