Professional Career Goals Can Be Achieved Through Preparation Conversations


In order to see results, putting together a plan of action is a good place to start.

There may come a time in a professional’s career when they want to make a change. Whether that involves advancing their position, moving to another organization, or changing industries all together, regardless of the intention and desired outcome, a mentoring relationship is an excellent opportunity to consider. A mentor and mentee can easily begin developing a mutually beneficial and successful mentoring relationship through engaging in three mentoring conversations: Awareness, Exploration, and Preparation.

Best course of action

A mentor and mentee begin to get to know one another through Awareness Conversations. They build trust and rapport by finding common ground and becoming comfortable. Once a solid foundation is established the relationship moves on to the Exploration Conversations, the point in time when the mentor and mentee examine a number of possible opportunities and ultimately decide on the best direction in which to head. The final of the three conversations involves planning how to prepare  for ultimate success. 

Confidence to carry on

Preparation Conversations are conducted through the engagement between both mentors and mentees. It is not the sole responsibility of the mentee to then carry on with the planning portion on their own. The mentoring relationship doesn’t stop there. Even though the mentor may have helped the mentee decide and determine their way to achieve the end result, they continue on to see things through. The mentoring relationship still serves a purpose in encouraging and advising. Together the mentor and mentee outline the next steps to take to reach desired outcome. The mentor also continues to play a vital role in maintaining the mentee’s confidence level through Preparation Conversations.  

Committed and laser focused

Preparation conversations are helpful throughout a mentoring relationship anytime a series of committed actions are under consideration. Sometimes, the preparation itself causes some to realize just how ready they are to take the next step in their journey.    

Desired outcome requires a clear view

You find yourself in a Preparation Conversation once the desired destination is in clear view and after a course of action has been established and committed to. There is a big difference between having an intention to do something and preparing to do something. Preparation is often the difference between a hoped-for aspiration and a dream fulfilled. 

Indicators that the time is right for a preparation conversation.

  • When you want to consider your options for goal accomplishment
  • When you want to gain commitment for the next steps
  • When you want to consider the time and effort necessary to reach a goal
  • When you want to determine the skills (resume alignment, interviewing, etc.) to practice, that will help you gain confidence and ensure success

Best practice recommendations for preparation conversations.

  • Identify Activity – Discuss the appropriate actions to move toward goal accomplishment. By listing out the relevant tasks or activities that lead toward the goal, you can learn about avoiding common pitfalls and obstacles.
  • Plan the Sequence – Once you have established a course of action or series of tasks, determine the appropriate sequence. You may discover concurrent activities or critical dependencies will affect the order.
  • Set Measures – Lastly, consider how you will know success has been reached. It is best not to set outcome goals (like a promotion) but rather measure performance gains (i.e., improved understanding or ability). By determining measures, you transform good intentions into achievable goals.

Helpful Questions:

These preparation questions can help you determine a committed course of action.

  • What are the necessary next steps?
  • What are we willing to do?
  • How does this align with the hoped-for results?
  • Will this fit into the expected timeline?
  • What will success look like?