Mentoring And The Importance Of Setting Goals


When participating in a mentoring programme, you will be asked to consider and define mentoring goals. But why is having a clearly defined goal so important, what happens if goals are not met, and what does a mentoring goal look like?

The whole basis of a mentoring relationship is communication, but if there’s no clear direction or end goal to frame these conversations around, the mentoring relationship may not have the benefit or end results that one would expect.

Let’s take a closer look at mentoring goals –

Why are mentoring goals so important?

Mentoring will involve discussion between a mentor and a mentee at regular intervals.

It can be easy to stray from your original plan or what you set out to discuss during conversations, especially when they flow easily. How often have you gone onto a call, or into a meeting with good intentions to decide something or make a solid plan, and it’s not until you come out that you realise there wasn’t any real progress made?

Or, what if you had planned to discuss something during a weekly meeting with your mentor, but something came up before the meeting and you feel it’s very important to discuss that, instead? This is normal; life happens; however, having clear goals can help you get back on track.

Setting goals in the first session of your mentoring programme will benefit both the mentoring relationship and the overall mentoring outcome.

Other reasons for goal setting can include:

Accountability –

The mentoring programme should have goals for both parties in the mentoring relationship. This allows a clear overview of what each party is expecting to gain from participating and provides some accountability – particularly if there are goals that are not being met, and need further discussion.

Guidance –

Setting mentoring programme goals early in the relationship allows both the mentor and the mentee to agree on what is appropriate and necessary to discuss during the relationship. If none of your goals are related to your personal life, for example, you don’t need to spend time discussing it during meetings or check-ins.

Motivation –

Rather than focusing on the big picture, setting smaller, more specific goals can help keep someone focused and motivated. Goal tracking should be consistent and will help to evaluate whether the programme is effective or not, and why.

Evaluation –

How can you evaluate your programme if you don’t have goals? Things such as mentee engagement, mentee outcomes and participant numbers are all goals that can be set and then used when measuring the effectiveness of your mentoring programme.

Often, mentoring programmes may be in receipt of funding or a particular budget, so being able to use goals to evaluate the efficiency of the programme can also help you when reapplying for funding.

What do mentoring goals look like?

An excellent mentorship programme will have both mentor and mentee goals. Both parties will work together during the period of their relationship, to achieve these. Goals will be very much personal and vary from person to person, as well as be dependent on the overall aims of the mentoring programme.

Mentoring goals could be short or long-term, and below we take a look at some examples for mentees, mentors, and organisational goals.

Mentoring Goals For Mentees:

What’s the purpose of having a mentor for you? Do you want to follow in their footsteps or use the advice and guidance they share to inform your own career decisions? Know this will help inform the kinds of goals you want from your mentoring relationship.


  • Improve knowledge and skills, such as communication skills
  • Build your network
  • Grow your career


A popular goal for mentees is to learn and develop professional knowledge and skills. It’s likely that a mentor has a number of years industry or education experience and they are readily available to offer you insight and share this with you. Pin-pointing specific skills or knowledge areas you would like to learn is a good place to begin.

Mentors may have a number of professional contacts – for example, within an industry or setting that would be beneficial to the mentee. By attending networking events or conference opportunities with your mentor, you can begin to build a worthwhile and strong network.

Mentoring goals will often have a career focused element. Such as advancing or growing a career. Mentors may have taken a similar careers path to you and will have insight into ways you can work towards promotion. Not only that, mentors can assist you with references or interview practices, having possibly lived through similar ones, themselves!


Mentoring Goals For Mentors?

  • Grow leadership skills
  • Gain new perspective
  • Become a better mentor


Leadership skills can play an important part at any stage of your career. Becoming a mentor can develop leadership skills in news ways. Mentoring will grow your ability to provide important leadership responses such as encouragement, motivation, and sometimes the hardest – (constructive) criticism.

As a mentor, you are there to provide knowledge and guidance to your mentee – but during this time, you will be exposed to new ways of working or approached, and will have the opportunity to gain new perspective.

Even long-term mentors may be looking for the opportunity to become better at what they do. Measuring this goal may look like evaluation forms, or the goal-meetings of your mentees.


Organisational Menntoring goals:

  • Improve and promote diversity, equality inclusion.
  • Reduce level of staff turnover
  • Create future leaders


Workplace mentoring programmes are a good place to start in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion. Mentoring programmes focusing on diversity may support and empower minority employees in upskilling or growing their careers. Inclusion mentoring programmes may focus on reverse mentoring – such as pairing younger employees with older employees to help them with the use of technology, for example.

Did you know that 22% of staff turnover happens within 45 days of starting a new job? This could be for many reasons, but perhaps most obvious – would be lack of support for new recruits. With recruiting a new employee costing around 3 x their annual salary, mentoring programmes can help reduce staff turnover.

One of the brilliant things about mentoring, is that often those who have been mentored not only go on to become mentors themselves, but, leaders within their workplace or profession. Perhaps as an organisation you would like to create a number of future leaders who will mentor new employees? This is a great mentoring goal, which is clearly measurable.


How To Set Achievable Mentoring Goals

Did you know, that by writing down a goal you have a 40% more chance of achieving it? There are several goal frameworks out there – one of the most well know, being SMART.

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable. Relevant and time.

Goals should be specific and clear so that it is easy to recognise when it has been met. They should be measurable, providing some sort of benchmark in order to meet them – such as making 10 new connections within an industry or maintaining 3 new members of staff for more then 6 months. Goals should be achievable, and not completely impossible – they should be goals that can be met using the skills and tools available to you. Relevant goals should be in line with your values, and what you want to achieve. By creating timelines, you will be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to feel motivated to take steps to achieve the goal.

An example of a SMART goal for a business with a high staff turnover, may look like this:


Specific and Measurable: Employ and retain 2 new members of IT support staff – for a period of 12 months from the date of their employment

Achievable: Meet with each staff member, on a weekly basis for 1 hour

Relevant: We need to reduce staff turnover, due to high HR costs

Time: We will achieve this by the end of the working year


Final thoughts on mentoring goals, and takeaways:

Participating in a mentoring programme is a fantastic and rewarding opportunity for anyone. Setting clear goals at the start of the process increases your chances of reaping fruitful, beneficial rewards and results – whether you’re a mentor or mentee.

Mentoring goals will vary depending on the individual, profession, mentoring programme genre, and aims – but it is critical that they are clear, defined, and attainable.

By evaluating the mentoring progress on a regular basis, goals can be reviewed and extra steps taken to help them be met, or issues