How To Measure Results of Mentoring
Mentoring is ambiguous. It has become a buzzword that people generally perceive as a good thing, but there isn’t a cookie-cutter way to approach it either for mentees or mentors. Hopefully, this series has provided guidelines and context to keep in mind as you navigate your mentoring relationships. One more thing to add to your tool kit is the ability to recognize whether your mentoring relationship is making a difference or not. In the words of Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
It’s easier to track results if we’re talking about a formalized mentorship program. In that case, the company, institution, or program can measure factors such as (1) mentor/mentee engagement — e.g., how many appointments they have and attend, (2) school grade improvement or promotion readiness at work, (3) quality of deliverables, etc. But how can you track this if it’s an “informal” relationship and it’s just you with your mentor/mentee? In fact, even if you’re part of a formal mentorship program, you still have to know whether it is making a difference for you specifically or not. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you track the results of your mentoring relationship:
Take notes and reflect on your conversations. Ideally, as a mentee, you have prepared in advance of meeting your mentor on what you want to consult them about and get their insights so as to maximize your time together. While you meet, take notes and be receptive to the conversation. After you’re done, take time to reflect on the exchange. Take your time and start connecting the dots.
Apply the learnings to your next meeting or task. Start integrating those learnings into your everyday life. Start by identifying the key moments where you anticipate you’ll need to apply those learnings most, that’s where you’ll have the greatest impact. For example, if you received advice on how to participate more in a meeting, identify the next big meeting you will be a part of. Anticipate talking points, questions that might arise, and be prepared with back pocket answers or questions of your own. Apply the learnings during the meeting and notice the reactions in the room to what you had to add. Was there a difference from other times in the past? Note them down and make sure to bring them back to your mentor next time you meet. Now, you’re building on the advice you’re receiving.
Make it a habit. If you do this at least once a week, or even once a day if you’re feeling ambitious, you’re already scaling your learnings and making a habit out of it. This is called “the Kaizen effect”, where you get 1% better every day. The trick is to create systems around it so that you don’t rely only on memory or one-off efforts to do it. Once you implement a system, it’s easy to improve 1% a day.
Don’t let the word “system” overwhelm you. You don’t have to build a hefty system or spend too much time on it that you feel you’re dropping the ball on the tasks you do need to deliver. Rather, this is more about building triggers. To follow the meeting example above, if you’re trying to prepare for meetings so that can add value, make it a habit to block 15–20 minutes the day before the meeting to prepare. The very act of blocking your calendar for that is already a system. Do this for every key/major meeting and it quickly adds up.
Ask for feedback. After a few weeks of implementing your learnings, ask for feedback from your peers, your manager/boss, school teachers, etc. Do they notice a difference? How can you improve? Take that back, reflect on it, and share it with your mentor. Now, compare that to your baseline, when you first started, do you notice an improvement? That’s your result and it can be (at least partially) attributed to your mentoring relationship.
A very important note here: even if your mentor is great and is giving you great advice if you’re not intentional in applying the advice and noticing the difference it has made, then results will hardly show.