February 15, 2024

Tips and Questions to Hold Mentees accountable to Their Goals

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Last week, we looked at what it means to deal with setbacks when attaining goals and how to redirect your mentee on their course of action. We looked at situations that require a mentee to put their goals on hold or change their goals… and how that is okay if the situation requires this. But what if the setback is that your mentee is discouraged or afraid? How do you help a mentee keep pushing through a difficult time when they feel like giving up on their goals?

Set From the Beginning

The first thing to do is ensure the goals are set from the beginning. What did you discuss during contracting? When things begin to feel complex, it can be helpful to return to the contract and look at the short and long-term goals established within those first few sessions. 

Even if goals were set clearly, these goals or the circumstances can change over time. It is okay to see goals shift, but as a mentor, you should ensure they are shifting for the right reasons. If a goal changes due to unavoidable circumstances, such as family tragedy, serious financial issues or mental or physical illnesses, the path to reach it or the goal itself may change. However, a mentor should be on the lookout for goals that change without solid reasons. This often indicates your mentee is discouraged and feels like giving up. This is when some pushback may be necessary.  Ask your mentee to reflect on their initial goals and articulate why they want to change them. Make sure they are considering all options. 

It is helpful to explore the following areas when reflecting on goals:

Support for Well-being:

Consider overall well-being. How is your mentee’s well-being right now? Verve Lead’s well-being assessment can help you and your mentee articulate where they are with their health Then consider where your mentee wants to go from here. 

Professional Development:

Consider how your mentee could feel more equipped for their current role and goals, and how they could grow. Who can help them? What conversations need to happen to achieve this growth? 

Professional Standards:

Reflect on how these goals will affect your mentee’s life. Will they be able to keep their work/life balance? Consider psychological hazards for their goals and how to avoid them. 

Let’s look at an example: Your mentee is overwhelmed with the complexity of multiple ministry roles and life, and you can sense their hesitation to take action with their initial goal; to plant a new church. In their recent mentoring sessions, they seem to be avoiding the topic of this goal. You want your mentee to be able to set the agenda for your sessions but also want to hold them accountable to their goal. Here are some tips to make that happen: 

  • Review goals annually – Revisiting specific goals usually reminds mentees why the goal was important to them in the first place and why it still matters, or it sheds light on what has changed since the goals were initially made.
  • Ask questions to help them stay on track – Asking questions that lead back to their goals is a great way to encourage reflection without hijacking their agenda. 
  • Patience and persistence – The pace of change can be slow. Keep providing opportunities to reflect on their goals and gently guide them with questions.

Reflection questions to keep your mentee on track:

  • What would happen if you made  ______  a priority? 
  • Who can help you make this goal happen?
  • What is preventing you from taking your next step? 
  • What is going on in your life that is distracting you from your goal?
  • Are you changing/avoiding your goal because of a legitimate challenge or out of fear or discouragement? 

What’s next? 

If you want more tips for bettering your mentoring or professionally supervising, take a look at 

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