One of the keys to a truly successful mentorship relationship is building a sense of accountability early on. Establishing accountability from the beginning will help both parties in the mentorship relationship to actively benefit from the exchange. Often times, mentorships end up fizzling out because the mentor provides advice, connections, etc to a protégé who does not understand that they must be an active member of the partnership. One of the first things that a new mentor should do is have an active discussion about accountability with their protégé and create an outline of what accountability will look like moving forward.
Create a Timeline
It’s impossible to plan out every single step of a protégé’s career; but that doesn’t mean that realistic goals and benchmarks should not be set. A clear timeline will allow both parties to agree upon exactly what is expected to come from their relationship.
When establishing a timeline, it’s important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly. A mentor may have certain ideas based on their experience, while a protégé have certain ideas expectations based on their ideas of what success look like. Remember that nothing is cast in stone; these goals and time frames can be reassessed if need be.
The purpose of the timeline is to allow the protégé to assess exactly what needs to be down in order to reach their goals, and gives them something to work towards. With a timeline in place, a protégé will be less likely to wait around for a mentor to give tips and advice, and it allows the protégé to be proactive within their career.
In a mentor & protégé partnership, it’s important for both parties involved to take an active part in the measurements of progress and success. This will keep both parties aware of what is going on, and allow for healthy and active discussion on what has been accomplished, and what (if anything) has become stagnant in the plan.
One of the best ways to create accountability is to have a regularly scheduled meeting (bi-weekly, monthly, etc) that should not be broken; have a backup date scheduled as well. Consistency is key, and the continued meetings and discussions will keep everyone active and eager to have events and topics to report about.
Have a way to keep track of progress and accomplishments. Both people can keep a journal, or there can be a running document. Just make sure that there’s a way to actively measure that progress and accountability.
The Keys to Healthy Accountability Discussions
- Good Timing: It’s important that the mentor (and protégé) be able to read the situation at hand. If one party is already down for whatever reason, it’s important to create a situation of comfort and optimism before delivering negative or hard news. Poorly-timed chastising could very well destroy a healthy mentor-protégé relationship.
- Positive Attitudes: It’s important to keep positivity and happiness at the forefront of any discussion. A great mentor should be able to instill a sense of confidence in their protégé, even if there are negative topics that need to be discussed. No one benefits from being constantly bombarded with negative energy.