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Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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1 Setting goals and objectives

There is a notebook with the heading ‘My goals’ next to a pen, phone and cup of coffee.
Figure 1 Setting goals

One of the first things your mentor will ask you about is your goals – both for your career and the relationship. The discussions you then have will enable you to set objectives and measure progress towards those goals.

Your mentor will work with you to break your main goals into small, more manageable ones. Running a marathon might be a useful analogy. The marathon is the main goal and the smaller ones that will get you there might include: buying the right equipment; joining a running club; planning a training programme and implementing it; running a half marathon etc.

So, what career goals could a mentor help you with?

Activity 1 Identifying your career goals

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Try to answer the following question in 30 seconds.

What are your three most important career goals right now?

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Life coach and hypnotherapist Bennie Louw (no date) explains his ‘Quick List method’ as follows:

What we have found is that when you only have 30 seconds to write your three most important goals, your answers will be as accurate as if you had 30 minutes or three hours. Your subconscious mind seems to go into a form of “hyper-drive” and your three most important goals will pop out of your head and onto the paper, often to the surprise of the person doing the exercise.

What did you come up with? Were your goals short, medium or long term?

In career terms, Rowan (2011) suggests short term = 6–12 months, medium term = 1–3 years and long term = 3–7 years.

As you learn more about mentoring and coaching throughout this course, you’ll be in a better position to identify whether you need a mentor or a coach to help you to achieve the goals you have identified. For example, a mentor might be in a stronger position to facilitate profile raising or skills development in your workplace. A career coach might be a better choice if you know you need to change jobs or career, but don’t know where to start.

In a career context you could have many different goals, ranging from raising your profile in the workplace to developing your skills in a specific area or even finding a new job.

The Management Mentors’ newsletter ‘What to talk about in your business mentoring relationships’ (no date) suggests typical topics for discussion, including:

  • These are my top 3–5 strengths, and these are my 3–5 areas needing development. How can you help me with those areas? What has been your experience working in these areas?
  • I’d like to discuss my relationship with my current [manager], including what works and what doesn’t. I’d appreciate any insights you can provide in enhancing my relationship with my [manager].
  • What lessons have you learned along your career path that you feel would be helpful for me as I consider my own future?
  • I’m involved in doing a presentation next week. Would you be willing to attend and provide me feedback on how I interact with others at the presentation?

In the next section, you’ll look at how a mentor might structure your discussions in order to support you in achieving those goals.