It’s a good idea to plan the ending from the beginning. Set an end date. This could be an actual date or it could be when a specific task is completed. This makes it clear that the relationship is not open ended and can save possible distress in the long term. Endings can be difficult for many people. It’s important to recognise this and to give mentees time to prepare. You will also have your own feelings about endings and may need to recognise and manage these. If you are still going to be in regular contact with your mentee after the mentoring has ended, you may need to negotiate how you will manage that new relationship with them.
It is also a really good idea to build in review meetings and/or agree to informally review at each meeting.
When the mentoring relationship has come to an end, you may want to encourage your mentee to consider what if anything should replace it. If necessary, you could assist in making an arrangement for any further mentoring to be undertaken. This may be with a different mentor. There are benefits to this in terms of reducing dependency and collusion. The new mentor will also probably have different areas of expertise which may also benefit the mentee.
Endings can be more difficult to organise when the objectives are not so clearly defined. For example, this could be when mentoring deals with general development or a new venture that doesn’t have a specific end date. This is where formal review dates can be invaluable. At this point if sufficient progress is not being made, either the relationship should end or an extended period should be agreed to enable the mentee to move to a further measureable stage in their development.
What to do if the relationship is not working
It is useful at the beginning of the mentoring relationship to discuss how you and your mentee will know if the relationship is working or not. If it is not working, it is advisable to have a plan as to what should happen.
You should work to enable your mentee to become empowered and to examine what they want either from you or from any future mentoring arrangement.
- Include an exit strategy in your overall plan
- Plan for any transitional process if necessary when the relationship comes to an end
- Don’t let unsatisfactory relationships drag on
- Do work to empower your mentee to identify and ask for what they need in any future mentoring they may undertake
Kay, D. And Hinds, R. (2005) A Practical Guide to Mentoring. 2nd ed. Oxford: How to books Ltd.