Creating Personal Accountability in Mentoring Relationships

Are you vested in your success?


Kate: When I first became Joe's mentor (he was working for me part-time and was still a graduate student), I encouraged him to develop a vision for his life. I told him, "Joe, when you graduate, you will spend 40 to 50 hours a week in your job. Are you just going to show up and do work in exchange for a fixed dollar per hour, or are you going to work with a purpose to help you achieve your goals?" 

Joe: I worked with several companies, such as Walmart and Union Pacific, before joining SC Visions in 2006. I was accustomed to people showing up all day and making good money, but they would just kind of check in when showing up for work and check out when they left. I didn’t feel fulfilled by the work I was doing because I couldn’t see where it was leading. When I started working with Kate, it became obvious I needed to understand why I do the things I do. It required knowing what my purpose was and having a vision for my life.  

Kate: A good example of how Joe applies this as he works for SC Visions is he purposely finds projects that can help him realize his vision. He often searches for pet projects for which he goes above and beyond, and volunteers his time because it helps him do things to reach his vision.   

Rule 2: Focus on the What, Not the How

Under a vested agreement, the buyer specifies “what” it wants. It then becomes the provider’s responsibility for determining “how” it gets done. Not mandating how work is to get done (assuming regulatory compliance and other quality levels are met) opens the door for creativity.  

Kate: I was never one to micro-manage the folks I work with—even young professionals like Joe. My focus was to create an environment that would allow Joe to do meaningful work, which would not only benefit SC Visions and our clients, but also benefit Joe. We’d sit down and create desired outcomes—the results we wanted to achieve for a particular project on which Joe was working. Then I would encourage Joe to own the creation of how he would achieve the success.

Joe: I love to figure out and understand people, so for me, this is where I get to have fun. I get to work on projects that help move SC Visions closer to its goals while working in a way that helps me achieve my goals. One of the hardest things for me to “get” was how to take the time and really listen, and then feel empowered to participate in defining what success looked like. In previous jobs, my bosses would simply tell me how to do something, assuming I was the new kid on the block. Kate is really good at setting a vision and getting me excited about it. When I can take that and turn it into something specific, with little guidance from her, I feel empowered. 

Rule 3: Clearly Define and Measure Desired Outcomes

All parties must be explicit in defining the outcomes they want. These outcomes are expressed in terms of a limited set—ideally, no more than five—of high-level metrics. Organizations should spend the time, collaboratively, to establish explicit definitions for how relationship success is measured.

Kate: I challenged Joe to ask the question, “How do you know you are successful?” Was his success just about making money? Or was there more to how he defined success? I challenged Joe to write down his personal vision for himself, and then create a personal scorecard that tracked his success against clearly defined and measurable goals that were important to him.

Joe: At first, this concept of defining my future success seemed very awkward. Wasn’t my job to show up and just do the job? I really didn’t have a clue as to what I was trying to achieve. I had tips and ideas on what to do, but no path to really follow. Kate shared her personal scorecard (she calls it the Balanced Scorecard for Life) and challenged me to come up with my own version. My Balanced Scorecard for Life focuses on those areas of my life that are important and allow me to live out my vision: Get a tattoo at 95! My life areas are Live Wealthy, Balance Lifestyle, Live Healthy, Have Fun, Love and Be Loved (family focused), Career/Business and Contribute to Society. Each life area has individual goals. Some are easy to measure (how much money I make) and others harder to measure (guide my kids into a life they want to live).

Rule 4: Implement a Pricing Model with Incentives

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