Coral Stanion-Nazeri has mentored two people through CharityComms.
The digital services partner at Action for Children explains why setting boundaries, staying positive and encouraging self-reflection are key to supporting mentee goals.
“What people think they want may not actually be the root of what they need. When I meet my mentee, I will have read what they’ve told CharityComms they want out of a mentoring relationship and I’ll use our first meeting to dig beneath this.
I start thinking about goals by asking my mentee to consider what they’re good at and where they want to be. Usually, when you’ve asked for a mentor you’ve got a problem. I find doing a Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results (SOAR) audit helps mentees look at it in a more positive way. If you’re feeling stuck at work, it can help you to look outside the situation and be more aspirational, which can shape what it is that you want help with.
I explain that I expect my mentees to define what they want to get out of me and set a schedule. Boundaries like this are important in setting goals.
Doing the SOAR audit can help break goals down into small steps. For example, one mentee wanted help growing into her management role as running her team wasn’t going too well. I worked with her to focus less on how horrible work was because she couldn’t trust her team and more on how she wanted it to be. We’d set small actions at the end of sessions, like trying out saying ‘No’ more or setting up a steering group so she could practice letting go of control. I’d ask ‘What are you going to do if that doesn’t work?’ and ‘What’s the next step after that?’.
Now things are going better in her role and her boss says her team are developing. She feels more confident at work, something that wasn’t a goal she came to me with, but it’s an outcome and maybe what was underlying.
We keep track of how we’re doing against our schedule. I don’t like to impose structure but will mention actions we set at the end of a session at the beginning of our next meeting. This helps you track how little things are building towards what your mentee wanted to do to start with and if you’re moving in the right direction.
Keeping a diary can be a good way to keep track of mentee’s goals. If, for example, someone wants to be a better manager, they could keep a record of what they notice about their strengths when they’re managing people. Doing this self-refection on how they got to where they are can help people see patterns themselves which you can discuss.
If you don’t set goals together, it’s more difficult to track progress. Change can be difficult. It’s easy to get stuck discussing the same things, but with clear goals, you can keep track of progress and both learn something. I’ve learnt that it’s easy to jump into solution mode but sometimes the best thing to do is listen, question and let your mentee work through what they need.”
Read more top tips and guidance about being a mentor in our resources section.