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Retain and Develop Your Engineers With Mentoring, Coaching and Sponsorship

Employee churn in engineering teams is a major headache for team leads.

With staff turnover in the IT industry greater than in any other sector (13.2%) and even higher for software engineers specifically (21.7%), this is not an isolated problem.

Hiring software developers and engineers costs money. Recruitment, developer onboarding and software developer training are not free and when your top employees churn you’re losing valuable knowledge, skills and morale. On top of this, many companies are grappling with a high risk of engineer burnout and an incredibly competitive hiring landscape.

With so many companies competing over pay and benefits, how do you attract, retain and develop top engineers?

This is where holistically developing your engineering team through learning and development comes into play. By utilising mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in your engineering team, you can go a long way to develop your engineers, retain talent and avoid burnout.

Find out more about embedding mentoring in your engineering team with Guider.

 

Why is turnover so high in engineering teams?

There are a number of reasons for this. The top reasons developers leave their jobs are cited as; seeking higher compensation, a lack of advancement in their current role, more career growth opportunities, and being unsatisfied with leadership.

This is bad news for company budgets with the average cost to replace a highly-skilled employee estimated at 213% of their annual salary. Given the competitive hiring landscape, many companies are struggling to compete to attract top talent.

Pay isn’t a magic fix, however. Even large companies such as Google and Amazon suffer from a median employee tenure of just a year. The problem is that unhappy engineers can easily be lured elsewhere by better compensation, but quickly experience the same struggles and burnout that they had before.

So, if higher pay isn’t the answer, then we can quickly see that engineering teams need a solution that addresses the other root causes of employee churn. It’s time to look at software developer training, developer onboarding and pastoral care.

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What tools can I use to develop my engineering team?

A key tool to prevent employee churn is learning and development. This is where mentoring, coaching and sponsorship play a key role (but more on that later!)

Often, engineers can feel as though they’re coding machines, expected to deliver high-quality results without being offered the pastoral and holistic care to help them develop. Utilising software developer training is an important way to develop your team.

There are two key ways that learning can become a core pillar in your retention strategy:

1:1 support in technical skills development

A major perk for attracting and retaining talent is providing 1:1 support. By pairing engineers with senior engineers for mentoring and skill development you can provide a key channel for continuous, collaborative learning in your team. This will also build relationships and networks.

1:1 support in holistic development

Through mentoring, coaching and sponsorship, you can provide support in wider holistic development. Because engineers are not just there to code. We all need a range of people and communication skills in order to progress in our careers. Whether you want to develop your team or inspire future leaders, providing the right development opportunities is essential.

When you support people to hone their technical and communication skills, build relationships, successfully navigate power structures and implement change in their organisation, it impacts not just their performance but how they feel at work.

Helping people to feel seen, heard and valued improves job satisfaction and engagement. This in turn affects retention, preventing employee churn. So, by offering core benefits focussing on learning and development you can tackle multiple areas at once.

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How do mentoring, coaching and sponsorship benefit and develop engineers? 

Mentoring, coaching and sponsorship are three great ways to support learning and development in your engineering team. They work to improve both technical skill sharing and holistic development.

The benefits of mentoring engineers

Mentoring is the act of helping another person by listening, giving guidance and sharing your experience. It’s a powerful personal development tool that is centred on human-to-human connection.

Find out more about mentoring in our Mentoring FAQs.

For engineering teams, mentoring has multiple benefits. As codebases change, engineers need to be constantly learning to keep their skills up to date. By pairing engineers with a senior mentor, they can share skills and knowledge, creating a culture of social learning.

Mentoring can also up-skill your team in other areas such as communication, leadership, networking and confidence-building. It provides relationships outside of line management in which your developers can build their wider skillset.

The good news is that we know mentoring improves retention rates, with 72% retention for mentees and 69% for mentors. It can be used as part of developer onboarding and software developer training to make sure your hires want to stay.

Find out how to start a mentoring program in this step-by-step guide.

The benefits of coaching engineers

Coaching is the practice of a trained coach working with groups or individuals to develop in specific areas. While it’s similar to mentoring, the main difference is that coaches do not need to have experience in what the coachee is going through to be effective.

Find out more about the difference between coaching and mentoring in our guide  

Coaches are focused on building wider skills through the tools and techniques they learn in training. By asking the right questions, they can help you to find a solution. Offering coaching to your engineers creates targeted learning opportunities that unlock your team’s potential.

This tool is great for developing communication and personal skills, showing your developers that they are valued for their whole selves, not just their knowledge.

The benefits of sponsorship for engineers

Finally, sponsorship is when a more senior person, the sponsor, acts as a champion to someone more junior, the sponsee. They focus on opening doors and putting the sponsee forward for opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

A sponsor will go beyond the role of a mentor and actively provide their sponsee with opportunities for progression, promotion and more. Sponsorship has wide-ranging benefits for career progression, as individuals that may struggle to put themselves forward for opportunities have a channel to find further support.

It is also a powerful tool for diversity and inclusion. We know that there’s a diversity issue in the field, with women making up just 16.4% of the IT workforce. Done right, sponsorship programs are a fantastic way to break down systemic barriers to career progression for under-represented groups.

How do I implement mentoring, coaching and sponsorship?

That’s where we’re here to help! With our mentoring software, you can set up and scale programs in mentoring, coaching and sponsorship with ease.

Our easy-to-use platform connects developers with the right people that can help them to:

✅ Up-skill

✅ Build networks

✅ Find holistic support


Find out more in our guide: What is Mentoring Software.

We guide you through the whole process, from set-up and promotion to feeding back the ROI at the end of the program. The Guider platform is a secure and simple solution to embedding social learning in your company culture.

Implementing a mentoring, coaching or sponsorship program will lead to better retention, engagement and productivity, while also helping to prevent burnout. Your engineers are the backbone of your company. By proactively investing in their development, you can create a team that’s built to last.

Want to find out more about how we can help implement a mentoring, coaching or sponsorship program at your organisation? Book a chat with our team today! 

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Skills Development

The Top Characteristics of a Great Mentor

By now we are all aware of the benefits of finding a mentor, but what about becoming one?

For many, identifying yourself as a mentor can feel… audacious. Stepping into the role of the trusted advisor takes confidence and a common problem is that many people just don’t see themselves as ready. I mean mentors are older, grey-haired, all-knowing entities, right?

Wrong. There are key characteristics that any great mentor has that do not require 30 years of industry experience and a top-level job title. You likely have some or all of these qualities already and if you are looking to grow professionally or prepare for leadership, becoming a mentor could be just what you need.

So, what are the characteristics you need to be a great mentor and how do you know if you make the cut?

What are the top characteristics of a great mentor?

You are a great listener

Listening is not just a core characteristic of a great mentor but of a colleague, manager and leader.

As a mentor, a big part of your role is to create a space in which your mentee feels safe, validated and heard. While you will impart wisdom and advice, it’s important to remember that your job is to listen to your mentee first and foremost.

If you already count yourself as a great listener or are trying to grow in this area, becoming a mentor is a great way to do this. Try practising the art of listening, validating and responding thoughtfully. It’s a key way to build positive relationships, show others that they are supported and prepare yourself for senior leadership in which listening is a key, yet underrated, skill.

You are invested in others

Mentoring requires investment on both sides of the relationship to work. As the mentor, being able to commit time and energy to your mentee is essential.

If you’re someone that genuinely enjoys helping other people to learn and grow, and gets personal satisfaction from helping others in the process, then you could be a great mentor.

Investing in others also has profound benefits. Mentors report feeling less stress and anxiety than non-mentors, plus they often find a greater sense of meaning and satisfaction in their work.

Remember: It’s not just about the feel-good factor. Becoming a mentor ups your chances of promotion by 6 times and can increase your chances of a pay rise by 20%!

You have a growth mindset

Your job as a mentor isn’t only to give advice. There is learning to be done on both sides of the relationship. By adopting a growth mindset and an open mind, a mentor can benefit enormously from the relationship.

Mentoring opens up your network to a range of different people and perspectives. Throughout the relationship, you will be working together to learn how best to achieve the development goals set out for the mentee. In order to do this, a mentor needs to stay flexible and attentive to how they too can adapt too.

Staying open-minded about what you can learn from your mentee will turn you from a good mentor, into a great one.

You are respectful and responsive

Similarly, a great mentor is both respectful of others and responsive. Your mentee will bring with them their own life experience and perspective, the goal of a mentor is to help them grow and to do that you need to create space for them to be themselves.

Respecting differences, whether it’s of opinion or life experience, creates the right environment for mentoring to work. Without this, the mentoring relationship would be negative and unproductive for both parties. Imagine sitting down with someone for a mentoring session only to find that they are disrespectful of your thoughts and opinions.

Respect and responsiveness are core skills needed as a manager and leader. Becoming a mentor is a great way to practice and nurture these important skills.

“Every day that you come into contact with different types of people and work through different challenges, issues, successes, you learn something. Every single time you have a conversation, you learn something about people’s behaviour, you learn something about their motivations, and you learn something about yourself…it’s rich, it’s rewarding…it’s a win-win.”James Newton-Brown, Head of Product Development at Marks & Spencer

Read more about our work with M&S here

You can give quality feedback

We all know that feedback can be as tricky to give as it is to receive. But constructive, tactfully delivered feedback is essential for personal growth and development.

As a mentor, you need to be comfortable giving and receiving feedback so that both sides of the mentoring relationship can develop. Feedback isn’t a one size fits all process. There are many different tricks and techniques to doing it well, the key is to work with your mentee to find the right way to deliver constructive criticism.

Learning how to tactfully deliver and receive feedback is an essential skill. It’s also another vital skill in management and senior leadership positions. If this is a skill you have or are looking to grow, you might make an excellent mentor!

Hear first-hand from our fantastic clients Clyde & Co the benefits of becoming a mentor. Find out more below

You have relevant knowledge and experience

Last but not least, having relevant knowledge and experience that you can impart to a mentee is a must. But hold on before you think you need to be an expert in your field before you can become a mentor.

The point of a mentor is that you use your experience to guide others. This doesn’t mean having all the answers. Supporting someone to work things out for themselves is a more powerful way to learn than simply being told what to do.

As a mentor, you may have experiences that you don’t count as mentor ready yet. Completed a few rounds of appraisals? Managed a team? Successfully transitioned career? These are all skills that many people value and need advice on.

You don’t need 20 years of experience to become a mentor, in fact, it can be more helpful to provide advice when you are closer to a specific problem or experience.

Remember: Knowing all the answers doesn’t necessarily make you a good mentor but  guiding someone to the right answer does!

‍Becoming a great mentor isn’t about age or job title, it’s about your attitude and the skills you bring to the table. With some positive self-reflection, many more people will find that they have what it takes to become a mentor than they realised.

There are many different ways to mentor someone. For example, peer mentoring is an excellent way to develop your skills and confidence as a mentor before stepping into a traditional 1:1 relationship.

So, if you have some or all of these top characteristics then why not give mentoring a go?

Want to find out more? Talk to us by booking a demo and find out how Guider can help you to create a smart, scalable mentoring solution for your organisation. 

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Skills Development

21 Questions for Inspiring Great Conversations

Guider has one simple mission: we want to power a billion inspirational conversations. To do that, we work hard to create mentoring software that facilitates quality matches and makes mentoring accessible for all.

But how do you turn your conversations from good to inspiring?

We’ve all been there, sometimes it takes a little bit of prompting to get a great conversation flowing. That’s why we’ve put together 21 questions to help you have inspirational mentoring conversations. These questions are designed for both mentor and mentee to get you to break the ice and get straight to the good stuff.

While we can’t join every mentoring session and start conversations for you (that would be weird for us too), we can provide conversation starters to take along to your next session.

Questions for mentors and mentees

  1. What made you join the program?
  2. What do you want to gain from this experience?
  3. How often do you prefer to meet?
  4. What’s the best way to communicate?
  5. What do you most want to learn about?
  6. How do you prefer to give and receive feedback? 
  7. Is this your first time as a mentor/mentee?

Questions for mentees to ask their mentor

  1. How did you get into the industry?
  2. What made you want to become a mentor?
  1. What do you see as your greatest achievement to date?
  2. What skills do you rate most highly in your current role?
  3. Do you have a mentor yourself?
  4. What piece of advice do you wish you had when you were at my stage?
  5. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?

Questions for mentors to ask mentees

  1. What do you want to get out of this experience?
  2. What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
  3. What is in your power to change?
  4. What’s your biggest goal for the next year?
  5. When do you feel time flows most at work?
  6. How do you like to receive feedback?
  7. Who in your team supports you the most?

These questions are just a start – make sure you keep note of any further questions you have and bring them along to your next session.

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Skills Development

10 Questions for Building Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is more than just a buzzword: it’s a lifelong skill that has huge benefits to your work and personal life.

It’s the practice of looking at yourself honestly, without judgment, for the purpose of understanding who you are. This affects not only how we feel but how we express ourselves to others and can make us better communicators.

When entering into a mentoring relationship, cultivating self-awareness will help both parties to make the most of the sessions. An understanding of yourself can reveal more clearly what your goals are and what’s standing in the way of achieving them, as well as what you are bringing to the sessions as a mentor.

Read more on the benefits of mentoring for learning and development with Guider.

So, to support the journey to greater self-awareness for you and your teams, we’ve put together 10 questions to get you started.

10 questions for developing self-awareness:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What am I best at?
  3. What am I worst at?
  4. When does time flow for me?
  5. When do I feel bored?
  6. What are my values?
  7. When do I feel most energised?
  8. When have I felt successful?
  9. Where do I see myself in 5 years?
  10. What does support look like to me?

Remember to answer honestly. There are no right or wrong or good or bad answers to these questions. The goal is simply to learn more about yourself.

These questions are just a starting point, you may find you think of more or want to discuss these with a mentor or a friend. The point is to start thinking about who you are and how this relates to your professional and personal goals. Good luck!

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Skills Development

How Failure Leads to Success

When we fail, why should we feel embarrassed about it? Why do we feel this overwhelming sense of regret and shame when we are faced with failure?

While most people view it as a step backward, it is actually a big step forward. Failure helps us learn and progress, and without it life would be rather stagnant. This article will focus on how failure actually leads to success…

How Did We Initially Learn About Failure?

From a young age, we are taught that failing is bad, and is something to fear. We may have felt embarrassed from raising our hands in school and getting the answer wrong, performing poorly on an assignment, or scoring below the passing grade on an exam. We are taught to avoid that feeling at all costs.

Developmental psychologists have conducted research on early childhood experiences of failure and what its effects are on adults’ levels of confidence. Psychologists have found that memories of failure that seem so meaningless now, could have negatively impacted the way we think and act. A student who gets embarrassed speaking in front of a classroom full of their peers may avoid public speaking for years until the fear is confronted.

We often find students living in educational environments where mistakes are forbidden. In such high-stress environments, mistakes are bound to happen! What these students do not know, is that failure is life’s greatest teacher. It is what shapes us to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Find our more about the benefits of embedding mentoring in learning and development with Guider

Changing the Way We View Failure

Through a three-step process of Explore, Embrace and Excel, we can change the way we view failure from something deterring to something encouraging.

1. Explore:

Get outside of your comfort zone, venture the world as it is and live as boldly as you feel!

2. Embrace:

If you left your comfort zone and were faced with failure, embrace it knowing that it will be a valuable lesson in the future.

3. Excel:

Find the positive take-aways from your personal experiences of failure, and utilize them to fuel success.

Coping With Failure

First, acknowledge that failure is by no means the end of the world. Realize that failure is temporary, and that something good is happening here. It is also comforting to remember that your persistence and dedication to your goals will eventually be rewarded with success.

Every time you fail, you are learning, and you are growing. Recognizing this gets easier with repetition and practicing positive self-talk.

Practicing Routine Failing

Forbes has described “routine failing” to be something very beneficial when coping with failure. Routine failing means you are actively doing something to move forward and get outside of your comfort zone. When we remain still, we strictly limit ourselves in what we can achieve.

Routine failing means taking daily risks, like a task you are unsure if you can handle, ignoring negative thoughts and comments from yourself and others, and leaping into the unknown. Instead of overthinking for the purpose of avoiding failure, put that attentive energy into listening to your gut instinct.

Failure Runs in Every River

When we look up to someone as a role model or mentor, we picture them as being flawless. Our biggest role models and mentors had to face failure many times in order to get to where they are now. Discussing failure with a mentor helps to normalize the idea of failure, understanding that it is something experienced universally rather than individually.

Here is a great article on some famous individuals who refused to let failure overpower their drive for success!

Meet Resilience, Your New Best Friend

Resilience is what enables you to bounce back from a failure and keep going. There will always be certain moments in life where you feel as if you were knocked down, but resilience is there to empower you to stand back up.

Think about your failure and why you wanted to take that risk in the first place. Is this a job you had always dreamed of having? Remember what it felt like to get that job offer, despite if you felt unqualified applying.

No matter what the failure was, having resilience guarantees you learn the lesson and apply it to your future. Resilient people can be fearless and feel good about themselves even when they are not at their best. Their confidence is fuelled by their determination and, most importantly, their past failures.

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Skills Development

The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

Practicing positive self-talk is more important now than ever. In such an unthinkable time, it can be difficult to stay aware of the world while keeping a positive outlook. Amidst listening to the news, we forget to listen to what we’re saying to ourselves.

The question is, how can we listen to the news and practice our self-talk simultaneously?

Practicing positive self-talk can be difficult, so Guider is here to help you to master the skill…

What is Self-Talk?

Self-talk is the running dialogue inside our heads. Our inner monologue consists of the things we say to ourselves both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes, we talk through something step by step in our head, and other times we say things that are more hurtful than helpful.

It is the voice that speaks without giving it much attention, and it can actually have a bigger impact on us that we realize. What we say to ourselves subconsciously can directly impact how we feel and respond to a current situation.

What are the Benefits of Positive Self-Talk?

Positive psychology studies how we individually flourish through building a life of meaning, purpose and optimism. Researchers have found that positive self-talk can help immensely with work performance, learning, self-awareness, and managing anxiety.

1. Reduces stress

  • Positive thinkers utilize better coping strategies when faced with challenges
  • Positive self-talk reframes the way we look at stressful situations and how we can approach them → Going from “this is too difficult” to “I can do this!”

2. Boosts confidence

  • Having positive self-talk boosts self confidence because it helps to believe we are capable of achieving goals and believing in ourselves

3. Helps to build better relationships

  • People look up to their coworkers who are optimistic, as it helps people to collaborate and cooperate more effectively

How Do I Distinguish Negative Self-Talk from Positive Self-Talk?

The way psychologists distinguish negative and positive self-talk is by the tone that our inner monologue speaks in. Our brains are hardwired to remember negative experiences over those that are positive. By showing yourself more understanding and self-compassion, our brains can be rewired to think more positively.

For example, say that your supervisor asks you to redo an assignment you handed in. In that moment, what would you say to yourself in your head? Would you say something that is negative and deterring, or positive and reassuring?

  • Negative self-talk would say: “I’m so embarrassed that I didn’t do the assignment correctly. I feel like a total failure.”
  • Positive self-talk would say: “I’ll learn from my mistakes this time, and do a better job next time.”

Do you hear the difference between the two? Think about any times you have said something a bit harsh to yourself that you could have said more positively.

Turning Negative Self-Talk into Positive Self-Talk:

Practising effective strategies to turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk has proven to be successful. Here are some to help you:

Don’t be too harsh on yourself when things go wrong

  • Instead, analyze the situation as if you were talking your coworker through something that went wrong for them
  • We tend to be biased toward and harsher on ourselves

Failure is not the end of the world

  • Failure allows us to experience, learn and grow
  • Embrace failure when it happens!

Focus on the positive too, not just the negative

  • There are negatives and positives in every situation, so don’t only focus on negatives!

A Three-Step Guide to Positive Self-Talk:

1. Listen to what your inner monologue is saying:

  • Is it mostly positive or negative?
  • Would your close friends, coworkers or mentor talk to you in this way?

2. Learn what thoughts seem to be recurring.

  • Is there a common theme in your self-talk?
  • Think about what this might say about yourself, and why these thoughts might be coming up.
  • Is this negative self-talk stopping you from achieving your goals?

3. Replace the negative with the positive.

  • Switch gears from negative to positive by changing statements to be kinder.
  • For example, change “I can’t finish before this deadline” to “I’ll do my best job to finish on time, but I can only do the best I can.”
  • Really imagine how you would speak to a friend — often we speak harshly to ourselves and more kindly toward our friends.

Try this out with your mentor as an exercise!

What is the Connection Between Mentoring and Positive Self-Talk?

Mentoring and positive self-talk are very connected. When we improve our self-talk strategies, we are better able to connect with our mentors. Mentees with positive self-talk are more likely to have positive mentoring relationships because they are willing to work on their desired areas while not falling into a negative mindset.

Positive self-talk allows there to be an open channel of communication between a mentee and their mentor, leading to more success within and outside of the workplace. Try working with your mentor on improving your positive self-talk the next time you meet!

Read now: How To Run A Productive Mentoring Session

When is the Best Time to Practice Positive Self-Talk?

Given that we have more free time on our hands than we did before, now is the perfect time to practice positive self-talk. Guider strongly recommends that we take care of ourselves during this unthinkable time, and work on the things we usually do not have time to work on.

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Skills Development

How to Set Goals and Actually Achieve Them

It’s all well and good saying you want to achieve something, but following through is the hardest part. However big your ambitions may be, one of the most effective ways of getting there is setting clear goals. In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top 5 ways to set goals and achieve them…

1. Set time-sensitive goals

When you set out to achieve something, it’s important to know when you want (and expect) to have achieved it by. Whether it’s the end of the week, in 6 months, or in 2 years, you must always put a timeline with each goal to give you a realistic chance.

You can then group your goals into micro, short term, and long term categories. Here are some examples of common goals and their timelines:

Micro goals (in the next few days)

  • Tidy your room
  • De-clutter and organise your work station
  • Do that thing you’ve been putting off
  • Get a personal best in a run or workout
  • Ask your manager for feedback

Short term goals (in the next 6 months)

  • Network more
  • Stop procrastinating and improve productivity
  • Learn a skillset from a colleague / mentor
  • Increase the number of days you exercise per week

Long term goals (6 – 12 months)

  • Get a promotion
  • Become a subject matter expert
  • Get an additional qualification or certificate
  • Win an internal recognition award

Long term goals can then be broken down into micro or short term goals to make them more achievable! Another way to reach your longer term goals will be to establish good habits, which leads us on to our next tip…

2. Identify the difference between goals and habits

When thinking about micro or daily goals, you may find yourself actually thinking about developing good habits.

A goal is something that you work towards and achieve, such as running a marathon, or writing a book. Whereas a habit is a repeated learned behaviour that becomes routine. ‘Drink more water’, ‘get up on your first alarm’, and ‘take the stairs’ might seem like good personal goals to set yourself, but really they are good habits you want to develop.

This is an important differentiation when setting your goals, as habits require a different process to achieve. Habits and goals are both important, and often achieving one can help you achieve another. For example, if you have a weight loss goal, developing a habit of healthy eating or exercising will be a good place to start. Equally, you may set yourself a goal of making something a habit, such as ‘In three months’ time, I will be in the routine of stretching as soon as I wake up’.

Want tips on developing good habits? This gives some great insight.

3. Make a mentor accountable

If you don’t share your goals with anyone, life will find excuses and you’ll most likely drop them, as no one will know. Sharing them with someone is proven to change that dramatically.

In fact, research has found that you’re 70% more likely to achieve a goal if you’ve shared it with a mentor first. (Source)

At Guider, we’re familiar with the importance of mentorship. Having a mentor can increase confidence, self-assuredness, motivation, aspiration, communication skills and more. But it’s important you know why you want a mentor, and what you’re hoping to have gained or achieved from the relationship. When you become a mentee on Guider, you’re able to set goals and timelines for those goals. Your mentor will automatically be able to see this so they can hold you accountable, increasing the chance of achieving your goals.

If you don’t work in a large company that has an internal mentoring scheme, it can be hard to gain access to mentorship. Mentoring marketplaces help connect you with mentors to support with goal setting and business advice.

There are plenty of people out their with the skills to support you in your development – you sometimes just need a platform to help you find them.

Need inspiration? Read our 10 personal and career development goals

4. Always visible, always in writing, always well phrased

In order to regularly review your goals, they must be written down. The act of writing out goals also helps you formulate them into something tangible. Don’t just take our word for it, research has shown that goals are 40% more likely to be achieved if they are written down. (Source)

If you don’t write your goals down, life will get in the way and new circumstances could change your goal perception. While it’s important to be flexible, you don’t want your priorities to shift to the point you forget how important a goal once was to you.

Don’t forget the importance of the language we use, even to ourselves! It’s crucial to phrase your goals correctly, being specific and assured. For example:

  • Don’t write ‘I will do more do more exercise’, but write: ‘I will increase my weekly exercise by 2 sessions a week with a minimum of 30 mins a session’.
  • Don’t write, ‘Learn more skills’, but write, ‘I will find a mentor in another department and learn a skill that they hold and then master it for myself’.

Tip: Use language like ‘I will’ instead of ‘I would like’

5. Set goals that motivate you and align with your purpose

People often set generic goals because that’s the easier thing to do. But we’re all different, with different personalities and motivations, so it’s best to set goals that are highly specific to you.

If you’re finding the goals you’re setting just not sitting right with you, they’re most likely not right for you.

The point here is that you will much more likely succeed if you set a goal that aligns with your personality, interests and belief systems.

At the end of the day, setting and achieving goals is meant to be fun and rewarding, so do something you actually want to do, not something you just feel you should do.

Finally – stick with it!

Setting and achieving goals is not just about the result, it’s all about the journey. If you stick with it, you can create a life whereby your goals (and good habits) are ingrained into your daily activities.

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Skills Development

10 Personal & Career Development Goals (That Are Actually Achievable)

New year, new you?

As we enter a new year, it’s time to think about what we want to achieve, and set some personal and career development goals for 2023.

I say goals, rather than resolutions, because according to research, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by February 15th.

The problem with New Year’s Resolutions, is that they are often broad, wishful statements as opposed to measurable goals – with ‘losing weight’ and ‘drinking less’ being among the most common. When giving yourself a whole year to achieve or change something, there’s a high chance it’s going to get forgotten about pretty soon.

Find out more about the benefits of mentoring for learning and development with Guider

Instead, we should all be applying the SMART goal methodology to our personal and career development.

SMART goals are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-based

When using this criteria, a vague resolution such as ‘be more organised’, can quickly become a personal goal with a viable deadline. The SMART process will also help you realise whether a goal is realistic or not, and if you find it’s not you can adjust your expectations accordingly and fine-tune the goal.

Goals are naturally subjective, however, if you’re looking to go down a path of self-improvement in 2021 and are stuck for where to start, here are 10 personal and career development goals to inspire you:

Goal #1: Wake up 1 hour earlier and use it wisely

This one’s for the morning people of the world. Adjusting your sleeping pattern by an hour can give you extra time to start a morning routine.

(Plus, I can guarantee you’re still going to be tired whether you wake up at 07:00 or 06:00, so you may as well make it 06:00).

The reason this goal is a good one for your self-improvement, is that you can achieve a lot in a quiet early morning hour.

Rather than rolling out of bed and diving immediately, bleary-eyed into your day, you gain a bit of extra time to yourself to focus on something that will make you feel good and fulfilled. This early bird activity can be different for everyone depending on your hobbies and interests, but here are some ideas of things you can do in less than hour that are good for your wellbeing and productivity:

  • Go for a run or walk
  • Stretch your body
  • Meditate or practice mindfulness
  • Read a few chapters of a book
  • Write down your thoughts in a journal
  • Tidy your room / workspace
  • Treat yourself to a nice home cooked breakfast
  • Do a chore you’ve been putting off
  • Plan your focuses and goals for the day
  • Listen to TED Talks or podcasts
  • Practice a foreign language
  • Work on a creative passion project

Whatever you choose, commit to it every day for 1 month and you won’t look back – this is a goal that will very quickly become a habit.

If you’re not a morning person, don’t despair. Why not try shifting around your routine in another way: we’ve heard a lot about morning routines, but what about evening ones? Giving yourself structured time in between work and sleep means you can participate in the activities above and reap the rewards.

Goal #2: Start journaling daily

This is a great personal development goal for any time of year. Journaling helps improve our self-awareness, productivity, and can even reduce stress and anxiety. As we formulate our jumbled thoughts into words, we rationalise and understand them.

Journaling doesn’t just need to be an account of your day-to-day, but a place to reflect and document your thoughts and experiences.

It’s up to you which areas of your life you focus on in your journal, but here are some journalling exercises and ideas to get started:

Every day, write down:

  • Your goals for the day
  • Things you’re grateful for
  • Things that made you happy that day
  • Things that made you stressed that day
  • Your personal achievements / things you’re proud of
  • A challenge you’re facing
  • An account of your dream last night (if you can remember!)

As you start to journal, you’ll quickly realise what is and isn’t beneficial to you, and fine-tune the exercise. It can take as little as 10 minutes out of your day to do, so set a daily reminder on your phone and get started.

Read our 10 ways to encourage employees to focus on self care here

Goal #3: Begin a new hobby (or pick an old one back up)

Many of us are guilty of letting our hobbies slide, declaring each year we’ll “get back into painting” or “take piano lessons”. These creative or athletic pursuits naturally fall by the wayside in our busy work and social lives.

But hobbies are something we should not be neglecting. Having hobbies can significantly reduce stress by taking our minds off things, as well as increase happiness and fulfilment. Not to mention, learning a new skill and seeing yourself improve is incredibly rewarding.

So 2021 is the year to actually do it. On average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit, which immediately gives you a realistic and practical time-frame to work towards.

It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Choose something you’ve always been interested in – particularly if you have friends who already do it as you can combine it with socialising – and take the plunge!

Goal #4: Reduce your screen time

For many of us, our phones rarely leave our sight.

Without even realising, we have become so dependent on our phones that the average person spends over 3 hours a day on it.

As useful as they are for work, communication, navigation, entertainment and more, they are also all-consuming.

When it comes to our attention spans, our phones are literally affecting the way our brains work, which is in turn affecting the way we work and communicate.

We have, in fact, become so used to distractions from our phones, that we subconsciously crave them – checking even though nothing has notified us, and picking them up absentmindedly when we should be doing something else.

At work, our phones can distract us to the point of reducing productivity by up to 40%. While in our personal lives, they are distancing us from our partners and families.

In 2021, make it your goal to reduce fruitless time spent on your phone, and make a conscious effort to be more present. Set time limits on your apps (or even delete apps all-together) and leave your phone away when you’re in company or focusing on a project at work.

We promise, you’ll feel better for it.

Goal #5: Get yourself a mentor

In order to set and achieve goals all year round, it helps to have somebody supporting, guiding and advising you.

Getting a business mentor is an incredible way to develop in your career in a relatively small period of time. Whether it’s bagging that promotion, increasing your confidence in big meetings, or changing your approach to work, a mentor can seriously help.

Not only that, a mentor is an effective way of improving personal development and self-awareness as well. The benefits of mentoring are endless, increasing confidence, happiness, job satisfaction, promotion possibilities and more.

So how do you go about it?

  1. Determine your specific career goals
  2. Assess your network and identify potential mentors
  3. Put in the groundwork – make conversation, support their work, and be proactive
  4. Ask them for coffee to pick their brain about a specific topic
  5. Access their experience and the chemistry between you to see if they could be the person to help you achieve your goals
  6. Ask them to be your mentor

For more info, check out our full guide:

How To Find A Great Mentor

Goal #6: Learn to code (even just a little bit)

This is both a personal and career development goal, and it has the potential to be life changing.

Whether you like it or not, the digital age is not slowing down. With advancing technology and rising automation, the world needs more coders than ever.

There are countless free resources to help you learn to code online (check out this list), as well as meet-ups and communities that support people teaching themselves. Even if you don’t have the time (or interest) to learn to code yourself, at least set a goal to become familiar with the theory and logic coding relies on, as well as the key languages.

By learning to code, you will be up-skilling and making yourself more employable – which seems a good goal for 2021 if you ask me.

Goal #7: Ask for that pay rise

Sometime in 2021, it’s likely you’ll be up for a performance review.

Unless you set yourself the career goal to negotiate a salary increase, you might find the chance slips you by.

Salary discussions can be uncomfortable, but the opportunity does not arise all year round. So if you believe you deserve a raise, you need to be prepared for that conversation.

Collate examples across your time at your company that show how much value you have added to the business, and the impact your projects are having on your key metrics. If you can justify and provide data driven evidence for your pay rise request, you’ll be in a far stronger position to achieve it.

This career goal is clearly measurable, as well as time-sensitive as you will have a date to work towards. You can do it!

Goal #8: Eat vegetables every day

A much simpler goal than getting a pay rise or learning to code…but valid nonetheless!

Everyone has different health goals depending on fitness levels and exercise / food preferences. However, one thing that unites us all is the power of vegetables.

This might be a small or a big behaviour change depending on your current diet, but set yourself a personal goal to eat a variety of vegetables every single day. An easy way to do this is by ensuring at least half of your meals are always veggie.

The vitamins and minerals we get from vegetables do wonders for our bodies and minds, and so this is an easy but powerful goal to set yourself for 2021. Moving to a more plant-based diet is also a benefit to the environment, so you’ll be helping more than yourself.

Goal #9: Learn to say no

For those prone to people pleasing, this is a tough one, but it’s definitely an important goal for both our personal and career lives.

If you find yourself always saying ‘yes’ to social occasions you don’t want to go to, or to co-workers trying to offload their work on to you, make 2021 the year that you learn to say no.

A lot of the time, our fear of upsetting or angering people by saying no to them completely outweighs our own desires and interests. Many of us are conditioned to be overly helpful and to please others at all costs, but often the things that we feel we have to do, can do far more harm than good.

Forcing yourself to an event, or going out of your way for somebody when you don’t want to, can result in higher stress and dissatisfaction. Not to mention it takes up time that you could be reallocating to things and people you actually care about.

Reduce the time, energy and money you spend on things you don’t want to do in 2021: just start saying no.

Goal #10: Do something just for you monthly

Following on from that goal, why not use all that extra time to focus on yourself.

In our hectically busy lives (where we’re constantly doing things for other people) often the person we neglect most is ourself. Every goal on this list should help to contribute to a happier, more fulfilled and successful you, but this one is the cherry on top.

Every month, treat yourself to something you enjoy. These don’t have to be lavish trips or luxuries, but anything that brings you happiness.

Everybody is different, but here are some ideas from us:

  • Visit a special or memorable place
  • Get a massage
  • Hire a cleaner
  • Go to the theatre
  • Bake something tasty
  • Buy new bedding
  • Watch the sunrise / sunset
  • Go to a library or art gallery

The list could go on and on…

Figure out what makes you happy, and make sure you do something solely to that end, at least once a month in 2023.

Categories
Skills Development

Personal Development: How to Take Responsibility for it

Personal development has become quite the buzzword in recent years as we’ve all become a bit more aware of our own emotions, skills and strengths.

But what’s caused this hype around personal growth and self-awareness?

Partly we can put it down to the rise of social media, and with it the increase in public conversation and shared experience. What was once private information – privy to the experts of cognitive psychology, business coaching, and behavioural science – is now shared over Twitter and YouTube, and is accessible to us all.

As well as that, it turns out that millennials are hungrier to know themselves than the generation before. Described as the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s, millennials care deeply about their mental health, careers and working lives.

Where in the past, work may have been seen as something you had to do to put food on the table, something distinct from personal life (hence the classic ‘work life balance’ doctrine), a lot of millennials see things differently.

With the expectation to find a job that is fulfilling and inspiring, comes the strong desire to learn and develop in order to feel happy and healthy at work.

Where do you begin with personal development?

It’s one of those terms that’s easy to say but harder to break down into something tangible.

We’re typically not taught to self-reflect, which is why it doesn’t always come naturally. However, it’s important to remember that you are the best placed person to solve your own problems (most of the time) and so personal development is something that needs to be actively worked on.

Find out more about the benefits of mentoring for learning and development with Guider.

Simple personal development strategies…

‍Here are 6 easy ways you can take responsibility for your own personal development:

1. Write things down

This may not sound groundbreaking, but studies have shown that we are 40% more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.

This figure goes up to 70% if those goals are also shared with a mentor, but more on that later.

Firstly, formulating the jumbled thoughts in your head into clear words on a screen or paper helps you understand and action them better. It is both cathartic and methodical.

Secondly, writing to-do lists and goals down physically holds you accountable to them.

And thirdly, writing down how you are feeling increases your emotional intelligence as you can start to recognise patterns and understand why you are feeling a certain way.

So grab that notepad and kick off your personal development journey.

‍2. Set goals

If you’re not in the habit of setting goals, now’s the time to start (put that notepad to good use).

To set effective goals, you must outline what you want to achieve and where you want to be so you can think of the best way to get there. If you’re having trouble formulating your goals, you can use this model to keep on track.

SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Check out our essential tips to goal setting here!

3. Understand how you work and utilise it

We’re all different. From energy levels to concentration span to methods of learning. What works well for one of us can cause stress and anxiety for another.

A crucial step in personal development is understanding how you work best, which can only happen if you make a conscious effort to analyse your behaviour at work, school or university.

  • What time of day do you feel most productive?
  • In what environment do you feel most creative?
  • When you have an idea, do you prefer working it out on your own before sharing it, or do you have to tell people straight away?

The answers to all of these questions point to methods of working and learning that can help us work smarter once we understand them.

4. Work on your strengths, not  just your weaknesses

When thinking of personal development, it’s easy to default to the need to work on things we’re not good at, such as: ‘getting less distracted’, ‘increasing confidence in meetings’, and ‘planning better’.

But it’s also really important to keep getting better at the things we are good at.

Part of becoming more self aware is identifying your strengths. Try listing what you think you’re good at. If you’re prone to self-deprecating thoughts you might find it difficult, but that’s why it’s even more important to do it!

You can then set goals to get even better and turn your skills into expertise.

5. Find a mentor

Mentoring is another term – like ‘personal development’ – that seems easily said but not as easy to action. But the reason it’s so discussed is because the benefits are endless.

Those with mentors are more likely to increase:

  • Self-confidence
  • Job satisfaction
  • Aspiration
  • Likelihood of promotion
  • Loyalty to company
  • Fulfilment at work

Sounds good right? But how do you find a mentor? The simplest way is to speak to your organisation and find out about any workplace mentoring programs they are running.

You can avoid any bad mentoring experiences by using mentoring software to find the perfect mentoring match!

6. Commit to and invest in your personal development

Like any skill, practice (and effort, dedication and passion) makes perfect. You’re not going to see results unless you commit to your self-development. And you’re not going to commit unless you want to.

Think of ways (that work for you) to ensure you actually put these strategies into practice. Your analysis on the way you work should help you also understand how you learn, which can help you think of ways to make personal development a habit, not a pipe-dream.

Set reminders on your phone, make a personal development plan, take up meditation, start journaling, ask mentors or friends to hold you accountable for goals or actions – start small and find what works for you!

Personal development is an ongoing exercise.

The whole point of it is that it doesn’t end, which is why it’s often so hard to start.

What’s important is to start putting small behaviours into practice that help you understand yourself and get you to where you want to be!‍