Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Successful Coaching

Your first goal is to establish a coaching relationship around your mentees’ goal setting and attainment. Your role as a mentor is to provide support and promote your mentees’ progress towards their goals, which will in turn increase the chances of a positive outcome. 

An important point to remember is that you are not doing the tasks for them, and you are not expected to be an expert in whatever the mentee is trying to achieve. Rather, your goal is to support their efforts and journey along the way to goal attainment. As long as you’re able to encourage the mentee to work on their goals and troubleshoot any issues that arise, you’ll be a successful mentor. 

Below are some tips for developing a strong relationship with your mentees that focuses on goal coaching.

Build a strong mentoring relationship

All successful helping relationships are built upon a strong relationship and good rapport. Strong relationships are built off of trust, shared understandings, and clear expectations and roles. Before goal setting and coaching can occur, mentors must form strong mentoring relationships with mentees. To learn more about the pillars of building strong mentoring relationships, please consult your program manager about taking our interactive course.

Understand accountability & just “being there”

If you take a step back and consider your role as a mentor, remember that your job is not to fix a problem or complete a goal for a mentee. Your role is to support the mentee through their journeys.

With that in mind, now consider what expectations you may have for your mentee. Would you expect the mentee to become an expert in the topic of their goals? If the goal was to complete all homework assignments for the semester, would you expect them be getting perfect grades in school right away? Probably not, because that isn’t your role in this case. Instead, consider clear expectations around goal progressYour role is to encourage the process, not specific results. Mentees have control over the process, but not necessarily over the results. 

It is important to communicate this to your mentee, too. You should remind your mentee that your role is to encourage working towards a goal. Having a discussion about what is reasonable and possible for the mentee to complete is important. We’ll cover this later in this course.

Finally, it is also important to talk about expectations about communicating with your mentee. Do you expect your mentee to respond to your messages immediately? Probably not going to happen every time. It is important for you to consider your own schedule and talk about reasonable expectations for how often you will communicate.

It is critical to remind them that if they have any immediate safety concerns, it is their (or their parents) responsibility to reach out for professional help, including calling 911 if warranted.

Provide support, not control

Remember, your goal is to support your mentee as needed, and not to enforce any specific behavior. Focus on addressing your mentee’s needs and helping them through the difficult journey of goal attainment. Resist the “righting reflex” or the urge to fix your mentees’ problems for them. If they’re doing well on their own, you can spend your mentoring time practicing their new skills and celebrating small successes.

Alternatively, if they’re resisting working towards any subgoals altogether, you might want to meet them where they are, with empathy, validation, and acceptance, and explore obstacles from a place of understanding. Be ready to back off, and delay encouragement if you feel that pressure is undermining the quality of the relationship. This means being intentional in managing your own feelings about your mentee’s engagement. You might experience their disengagement as a reflection on you and feel hurt or frustrated. Your mentee is likely to pick up on negative feelings from you, and this can create a negative cycle where they respond to your frustration by withdrawing even further.

Understanding your mentees’ goals

The key to providing effective support is understanding your mentees’ goals. Be sure you are clear on what the goal actually, and how you plan to measure it. Some things to keep in mind:

  • What is the ultimate end goal? What does this look like?
  • What exactly are the subgoals?
  • What are the potential barriers that could arise

Consider familiarizing yourself with the details. If the goal is to finish reading a text book for a class,

  • What class is the textbook for? What topic?
  • How many pages and chapters are there?

Familiarizing yourself with these details will allow you to provide more specific support, including providing feedback and identifying and problem solving barriers.