Mentoring is a wonderful activity that brings together not only two individuals looking for ways to mutually grow both personally and professionally, but also a practice that enhances the opportunity for employees inside a company to transcend and for the organization itself to be better by ensuring the people that make up their ranks, are individuals committed to growth and the accomplishment of the mission. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about all of these benefits before in our many articles on mentoring, and one of the things that we have always said is that just like any endeavor you are about to undertake, you must have a clear direction of where you are going. A ship needs a bearing as well as a map to navigate the vast waters, and just like a vessel, so does your mentoring relationship need to have meaning and a clear objective in mind in order to be successful. Today we want to talk about mentoring plans, about how they are put together and the criteria to judge whether they are working the way they should.
A mentoring action plan is a way for a mentee to realize where they are currently, where they want to get to by the means of their new found mentoring relationship, and more importantly, how they are going to go about actually getting there in the first place. The first thing that must be done is to ask yourself some really insightful questions like: What exactly do I want to accomplish from this relationship? Which skills do I lack or need to improve in order to be a better version of myself? Are there any alliances or partnerships I am interested in forging? Is there a way to measure what I have learned and put it to the test? How can I apply these new skills to my current position and how can they help me advance further professionally?
All of these can help mentees create a vision statement. A vision statement is all about seeing yourself in a place where you are not yet, but where you want to get to eventually.
Creating a vision statement can be considered the first action to take when putting together your mentoring action plan as it is used as the basis of decision-making processes and a way to find out what you really want to get out of your efforts being placed into the mentoring program. A vision plan requires for you to make a list considering the questions we talked about earlier, and also include things that you see as your own personal weaknesses and strengths. This information can help you identify your capabilities, limitations and immediate goals to pursue.
The next logical step is to actually identify those goals and state them in a specific and realistic way so they are attainable considering your current skills and intentions. Taking a look at your past performance reviews or analyzing prospective jobs or positions you would like to attain are great ways to identify areas of possible development. Remember the acronym SMART when are putting together a set of goals to work towards.
S stands for being specific about the things you want to achieve. M is for those goals to be measurable and meaningful for you, your environment, the company, etc. A is for attainable, achievable or action-oriented instead of empty words that are nothing more than just hopeful-thinking but lacking direction and acceptance. R stands not just for realistic by also relevant and reasonable. It goes without saying that your goals must lead you somewhere and not simply be something else you are able to do, since that by itself, doesn’t amount to much. Last but not least, we have T that stands for tangible, time-based and timely because you have to set timelines in order to know if this is working at all or you are just wasting your time. Challenging yourself is quite important because nothing worth it comes along without hard work.
Setting deadlines should come after and this is the way you get motivated to see progress and push yourself to continue moving forward. This can be done by having schedule benchmarks and feedback sessions to evaluate progress together and adjust accordingly.
The real change begins when the mentoring action plan is truly put together and subsequently put to work. Having everything laid out for you is the best way to take charge and begin to work towards objectives that can be measured and closely monitored. Regardless of how things are done, mentoring relationships are organic partnerships and they will find their own way to move forward because they do not all work the same way. Your particular case may find a different set of challenges as those of your coworkers and have common strengths that others may wish they had. The important thing is to continue growing and to always understand the importance of proper planning.