How to End a Mentoring Relationship Effectively

In this article, we will be sharing why and when you should end a mentoring relationship and how to do so.

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We’ve all had experiences with mentors in our lives, whether or not they’ve had the official title, we can all think of experiences where someone has supported and guided us on our journey to accomplish something. Mentoring comes with many impressive benefits which is why more and more professionals are seeking mentors to help them develop.

But, what happens when you need to end a mentoring relationship? For most people, ending a mentoring relationship can feel like a complex task, but it doesn’t need to be. That’s why, in this article, we will be sharing why and when you should end a mentoring relationship and how to do so.

When and Why You Should End a Mentoring Relationship

Each mentoring relationship is unique. From the topics we discuss to the time we spend with our mentor. For example, a mentoring programme focused on leadership might take place over a year, whereas a mentoring programme focused on learning a new software could last a month. Most people when they enter a mentoring relationship, often decide how long they think it should last. We highly recommend this for anyone entering a new mentoring relationship, as it gives the mentee and mentor a timeframe that they can use to help manage their sessions and put learning priorities in place. If there is no defined end-date set, then the decision to end the relationship between the mentor and mentee can get more confusing and complex.

We believe it's important to understand why mentoring relationships can end, not only for mentors and mentees but programme administrators. Whilst, we can’t truly understand why all mentoring relationships come to an end, here are a few common reasons why they do:

1. Completion of Mentoring Goals

As mentioned, many mentors and mentees have a schedule in place which determines the duration of the mentoring relationship. All mentoring relationships also have goals in place which are things the mentor and mentee work towards together. As these goals are often achieved during the agreed-upon timeframe, the mentoring relationship naturally comes to an end since the goals have been accomplished, which means mentoring is no longer necessary for participants.

2. Change in Circumstances

Another common reason why mentoring relationships end is due to external factors and changes in circumstances. Whether it’s due to new professional opportunities, personal commitments or geographical moves, in our lives things can happen, after all, we’re only human. However, these uncontrollable factors and changes can disrupt the sessions and make it more challenging to continue the mentoring relationship.

3. Mismatched Mentor/Mentee Expectations and Needs

A mentoring relationship is only prosperous if there is an alignment between the mentor and mentee regarding their expectations, needs and wants. When there is a constant mismatch in these aspects, or either the mentor or mentee feels their expectations and needs aren’t being met, then it will lead to dissatisfaction within the mentoring relationship and ultimately impact the effectiveness of the relationship. In cases like this, it’s important to end the mentoring relationship to ensure that both participants can seek more compatible opportunities.

4. Lack of Chemistry or Compatibility

A mentoring relationship is similar to any relationship we have in our lives. From our co-workers to our friends, we all know that we can’t get on with everyone and that’s completely fine. In mentoring, the chemistry and compatibility between the mentor and mentee play a substantial role in the overall success of the relationship, with it being vital that both individuals can establish a strong connection with one another. If this doesn’t happen, the mentor and mentee will be unable to build trust or rapport, which will impact the value and longevity of the relationship.

5. Personal Growth and Independence

A good mentoring relationship empowers the mentee to facilitate their own personal and professional development, so it’s only natural that a mentee reaches a stage where they become more independent and self-sufficient. As mentees gain the skills and knowledge needed, the mentoring relationship will come to an end. However, this isn’t a bad thing as it shows that the mentoring relationship has been truly beneficial and successful for the mentee.

Mentoring relationships, as you can see, come to an end for various reasons. Whether that's due to a change in circumstances or just a lack of chemistry. Either way, it’s essential that as a mentor or mentee, you understand these reasons and know when your relationship needs to come to an end.

How to End a Mentoring Relationship

After spending a long time with a mentor or mentee, saying goodbye isn’t always easy. When it comes to ending a mentoring relationship, it must be thoughtful and polite, to guarantee a respectful and positive transition for both the mentor and mentee. Listed below are things you need to do when ending your mentoring relationship.

1. Reflect on the Experience

Whether you're a mentor or mentee looking to end the relationship, it’s important that before you do so that you reflect on the overall mentoring experience and evaluate how it has influenced your personal and professional growth. If you’re a mentee, look back on what you have gained from your time with your mentor and whether your needs have been met. Review your accomplishments and consider what you might want to achieve going forward. For the mentor, reflect on the experience by reviewing if the relationship was successful and what you can do going forward to improve your mentoring skills. Reflection allows for both the mentor and mentor to evaluate their next steps.

2. Communicate Openly and Honestly

There's no denying that the key to a thriving mentoring relationship is one where communication is clear and honest. However, this doesn’t just matter for the duration of the mentoring relationship but is essential when it comes to ending it. When mentoring relationships end, the mentee and mentor need to talk sincerely about their thoughts and feelings regarding the relationship. Feedback needs to be provided tactically, with each party respecting the other's feelings. It doesn’t matter if your relationship has come to an end due to goals being accomplished or whether you’re just not a good match, never leave your mentor or mentee in the dark when ending a relationship.

3. Provide Closure and Future Support

Closure is an essential component to effectively ending a mentoring relationship. Before ending a relationship you need to ensure that all loose ends are tied up, with any duties or tasks being addressed and providing each other with the necessary resources and documentation needed to move forward. It’s also important to state how both parties feel about additional support. Whilst some mentors and mentees might not plan to stay in touch after their relationship ends, if it was successful, then we highly recommend that you do. If you agree to remain in touch, then you need to discuss things such as occasional check-ins, connecting through professional networks and future support options, as a way of having a professional relationship outside of the mentoring one. This is particularly important for the mentee as it shows they can have continued guidance and support if needed.

4. Celebrate Success

To make sure that the relationship ends on a positive note, then the mentor and mentee need to connect and celebrate success. If you're a mentor, make a list of all the skills, knowledge and milestones your mentee has accomplished throughout your relationship. If you're a mentee, then write down how your mentor was able to have a positive impact on your growth. Celebrating the success creates a lasting impression and leaves both parties with a sense of accomplishment.

5. Say Thank You

Lastly, always say thank you to your mentor or mentee. Saying thank you goes a long way and it shows you respect and acknowledge each other's contributions to the relationship. It’s essential to pay respect and show gratitude when ending a mentoring relationship due to the amount of time and effort that goes into building a successful mentoring connection. This appreciation will help end the relationship on an optimistic note, which is something you always want to strive for with your mentor or mentee.

Final Thoughts

Ending a mentoring relationship is a natural and essential part of growth and development. Concluding a mentoring relationship is also equally as important as starting one and needs to be done in a way that shows respect and gratitude. When ending your relationship, remember to reflect on the experience, communicate honestly, provide closure, celebrate successes and say thank you. By ending the relationship, you’re not saying goodbye to them forever, but instead, hopefully, you're making a life-long professional connection.

If you want to find a mentor, be a mentor, or do both, then sign up to PushFar today.

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