When it is time to spread your wings – 7 tips for closing your mentoring relationship

As the saying goes…

‘All good things must come to an end’

The closure phase of a mentoring relationship needs just as much attention and careful planning as the beginning of the mentoring relationship. The closure phase is an opportunity for both parties to reflect on progress, accomplishments, and lessons learned, regardless of whether you have experienced a positive mentoring experience or not. Above all, a good closure offers the opportunity for both participants to prepare for the next phase of professional growth, goal accomplishment and for some, the next phase of career.

If you are participating in a formal mentoring program you will likely have a program end eate. If you find yourself in an informal mentoring relationship, you might find that the mentoring relationship may come to a natural close over time depending on your goals and focus areas. Regardless of what type of mentoring relationship you are in, closing the mentoring relationship when the time has come is not only courteous but good practice.cide

1. Be proactive rather than reactive

It is important that both parties know that the arrangement is coming to a close, so as a courtesy and to wrap things up neatly, allow yourself at least four weeks to plan and work towards the end of the mentoring relationship.  Consider the date, time, format, and duration and provide early notification to your mentoring partner.

2. Become clear about what your expectations are at the end of the mentoring relationship

It is important as you work towards your last meeting with your mentoring partner, you are clear about whether you are willing or want to maintain a professional relationship, or perhaps you will both decide to move on. It is a fantastic result to keep a mentoring relationship working in the long-term if the arrangement is working for you both. But don’t be afraid to step away if the relationship is not serving you any longer, or you simply have other priorities or areas of focus to devote your time. Regardless, state your intentions clearly to your mentoring partner.

The dynamics of your mentoring relationship will dictate and decide your path. Sometimes you both may sense if you would like to continue or not based on how the mentoring relationship has played out over your time together. Above all, make sure that you complete a closure or continue the process to provide each other clarity on next steps.

3. Reflect on your accomplishments

Reflect on your original goals set in the early stages of the relationship, review how far you have come, and identify which goals or action items are outstanding. Perhaps you might light to go a little deeper into your accomplishments during your mentoring relationship.  Learning from experience is great, but when coupled with intentional reflection you can uncover and articulate the key lessons learned during your time together. Consider the following questions:

  • How far have you come since the commencement of the mentoring relationship?
  • What worked well in the mentoring relationship? What didn’t work so well?
  • What did you find most challenging about your mentoring relationship?
  • Did you achieve your goals and objectives?
  • What accomplishments or gains did you make?
  • How can you celebrate your success?

4. Provide feedback to one another

Think about the feedback you can provide to your mentoring partner about the program and how you felt the program and relationship have tracked.

  • What was it like working with one another?
  • How well did you both communicate?
  • What would you do differently as a result of your mentoring relationship?
  • What worked well? What didn’t work so well?

5. Share your learning

A mentoring relationship is not just about accomplishing your goals, it is also a time of development, growth, and change through learning. Consider the following questions:

  • What are your significant learnings because of the mentoring relationship?
  • Did you experience any unanticipated learning, challenges or surprises during your mentoring experience?
  • Did you experience any disappointments? What did you learn from this?
  • Based on what you have learned, what will you now do differently in the future?

6. Share your goals and next steps

A nice way to wrap things up is to share new goals and objectives with your mentoring partner. Make sure you compare and contrast these goals to the goals you set at the beginning of the mentoring relationship. This will provide you with the chance to realise how much you have learned, how you have developed, grown or changed. It is also nice to provide each other with a view into the next phase of your career or personal life.

7. Pay it forward

For mentees, you may find the guidance and advice that you gain from your mentor is invaluable. You might be feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and be feeling you couldn’t possibly repay them in many lifetimes! I have been there before – trust me.

What I have learned from my mentors is that the best way to show your gratitude is to ‘pay it forward’. Consider becoming a mentor yourself and share your knowledge, insight, and know-how with another aspiring ‘you’!

For mentors, keep mentoring! Try to bring your peers into the art of mentoring if they are not doing so already. Discuss the benefits of mentoring including:

  • Being recognised as an industry leader and subject matter expert
  • Development of mentoring and coaching skills including leadership, providing feedback, communication and interpersonal skills
  • Develop insight into emerging issues and trends across the industry and within specific contexts
  • Derive personal and professional satisfaction by serving altruistically and supporting the development of others.

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