Let’s Talk About Mentoring

Mentoring is a long-term commitment between two individuals designed to help the mentee achieve measurable and non-measurable goals. Let’s break this down.

Long term: Since this is a vague term that could mean anything between weeks and decades let’s put some meat to it. The duration of a mentorship program is determined by the goals discussed during the initial conversation. However, I believe a minimum duration should be 6 months. I believe most mentorships will be longer and, if done right, will end up being an informal life-long commitment.

Two Individuals: This is a partnership between the mentor and the mentee with each individual having an obligation to the other.

  • The mentor is to provide sound guidance, ask key questions to best understand the needs of the mentee, offer encouragement and provide additional directions as they arise.
  • The mentee is obligated to be introspective, honest and open to information.
  • The mentors are not being paid for their services, therefore it is the mentees’ responsibility to initiate communication, ask questions and make the phone calls on the agreed upon dates.

Measurable Goals: In a mentor/mentee relationship goals should be established in order to define the mentees’ needs and what success looks like. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

  • Example: “Obtain my Bachelors of Science in Occupational Safety and Health with a 3.5 gpa or better by June 2020.” This goal is Specific down to the GPA; Measurable based upon the receiving a diploma; Attainable for a senior in college; Relevant for the safety profession and Time-bound by June 2020.

Non-Measurable Goals: There are some goals that aren’t so easily measured, but are essential nonetheless. Non-measurable goals do need to be defined and clarified. A statement like “I want to be a better safety professional” is a great goal, but what does that really look like? Mentors need to help break that statement down into definable pieces. Sometimes, by breaking it down we can turn some non-measurable goals into measurable goals. Most of the vital skills of safety fall in the non-measurable goals categories. “Be a better safety professional” can be:

  • Establishing relationships with staff and crew
  • How to influence others without creating conflict
  • How to handle conflict
  • How to have the difficult conversations

Somewhat measurable goals: Although this isn’t listed in the definition of mentoring, it is something to consider. A “somewhat measurable goal” is a goal where training can be provided, but the application of the training can’t be measured.

  • Example: A person can read a book or take a class on conflict management. This can be measured simply by reading the book or taking the class, but the application of what is learned is not measurable.

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