There are many reasons why you might want to ditch your mentor. Maybe the relationship ran its course, maybe the mentor wasn’t a good fit, perhaps the relationship has been outgrown. Your needs may have shifted since the relationship was established or maybe your mentor was an emotional vampire who literally sucked the life out of you.
Relationships can be hard and break ups can suck. Same applies to mentorship. As there is a beginning to the relationship, there is an end. While in a professional mentoring capacity there is a process that both parties follow in bringing closure to ensure a finality to the relationship.
What tends to happen in the less formal mentoring relationships is that some tend to avoid any conversation as they may be uncomfortable with saying goodbye whilst others drift over time without any real explanation as to why. Unresolved closure can stain the fabric of the relationship unnecessarily.
When the relationship has gone off course and needs are not being met, it’s time to consider ending the relationship with class and grace.
Here are 7 signs that it’s time to break up with your mentor:
1. You’re no longer learning
When the gut feeling kicks in, the uneasiness is starting to filter, it’s time to put on the self-reflective hat. Ask yourself what value you have gained from your mentor and what you feel that you are not getting to be able to move forward. Delve deeper and take an internal exploration to identify what’s missing and if there is a possibility to reshape the relationship.
When you are clear on what you want it to look like, then it will position you to decide as to whether your mentor has the mindset, heartset and skill set to facilitate the growth experience. When you hit the pause button you begin to unveil your needs and the future pathway. If you are no longer learning or chemistry is not there, don’t prolong the inevitable. Staying in the relationship is a disservice to both parties. It’s time to move on.
“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.” – John C. Maxwell
2. You’re no longer doing what’s required
Every so often one or the other party fails to show up or completely abandons the relationship. When a mentor is assigned or imposed, mentees fail to take it seriously and often leave or do the required minimum with no desire to continue. Phase things out gradually and don’t burn the boats by abandoning the relationship. You may need them in the future to take you to dry land.
3. You have unproductive meetings
A series of unproductive meetings may be a signal that a mentoring relationship has run its course. You shouldn’t be afraid to explicitly dial down the frequency of meetings or stop them entirely. End the relationship by simply letting them know that you have grown through the experience, provide specific examples and you will be in contact with them if a specific issue arises in the future.
4. Too many cancellations or reschedules
Too many cancellations or reschedules should ring alarms bells. As a good beginning is important, so is a good ending. Be prepared to end those relationships that are unproductive and lack commitment. Invest in the ones that will take you to the next level.
Be as truthful as why the relationship is ending and tie up loose ends. No need for anyone or any details to be left hanging. Honor the relationship for the growth opportunity and remain respectful beyond the conversation. You never know when paths will cross.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” – Bob Proctor
5. They keep giving you the same advice over and over again
Most mentor relationships begin with the purest of intentions. Mentors provide guidance based on their experience and sage advice. The mentee role is critical in listening to the content that is being provided and how this advice is crafted to suit a situation. The literal application rarely works as the parameters in its application would be different.
It is necessary to craft individual solutions to challenges. If your mentor offers the same advice to you in multiple situations or insists that the way they proceeded was the only pathway to consider, then warning bells should start to ring.
6. Your mentor isn’t letting you fail
Mentors can provide sound advice, guidance and direction when needed to transcend limitations, finding solutions or trying to keep your head above water in a sinking ship. Even though the mentor can play the savior role, it’s not helpful or healthy.
If you invest too much time relying on the advice of others to solve problems, you run the risk of never failing and experiencing one of the most valuable ways to become a better professional human being. Learning experiences are not always positive yet lead to contemplation and new possibilities.
Always doing the right thing breeds complacency and stagnant thinking. The growth is in the learning and failure is just feedback. The ones who truly succeed are not afraid of taking risks and expanding their unfamiliar zones.
7. Mentor is experiencing separation anxiety
As most parents experience their children leaving home, same principle applies to the mentee wanting to distance themselves from mentors. Mentors who are not ready for the separation can feel abandoned, angry or resentful and even impede the mentee’s opportunities for progression stalled.
When breaking up the relationship, delicate and respectful handling is required. Do not attempt to give feedback while emotions are running high. Invest in maintaining a good rapport within the professional network around the mentor.