“For me, talking about the end of a mentoring relationship starts in your very first meeting. With my three mentees, we agreed a timescale in the first session.”
Being flexible and not taking things personally is useful when you’re approaching the end of your mentoring relationship. I worked with one of my mentees, a communications officer, for six months. He had taken on some PR work in his role, so wanted some insight into that. Towards the end, our relationship started to dwindle off as we tried to find times to meet. He emailed me to tell me that he was very grateful for my support and that he was going back to full-time education. Another mentee said ‘This will be our last session’ after about eight months. She was changing jobs.
I wasn’t frustrated at all by these endings. It was absolutely fine that my mentees wanted to end early. I was able to support them with what they needed and they no longer needed the support.
The final session
When you have agreed a final session, it’s nice to have a more informal one, perhaps meeting in a different place. The final session with the mentee I worked with for 12 months was much more informal. We met for a coffee, caught up as she’d started a new job and chatted about the whole year. It was an opportunity for us to recap and remind ourselves of her goals at the beginning. You could also explore what other support your mentee might need in the future and discuss whether you will stay in touch.
One of the main things I’ve learnt from being a mentor is setting clear parameters to make sure that everybody’s expectations are being managed. I think that’s important from the beginning, and helps you approach the ending, so you’re both on the same page.