In any relationship, there are down times. Enthusiasm wanes. Boredom can set in. You find you have less and less to talk about.
Mentoring relationships are no exception. We find that these mentoring "slumps" tend to happen in the final months, especially as the mentoring pairs hit the nine-month mark.
This is one of the reasons why we recommend quarterly check-ins. During these check-ins, the mentor, mentoree, and mentoring program manager (MPM) come together to see how things are going. It’s the perfect opportunity to address challenges, such as waning enthusiasm.
But what can you do in between these quarterly check-ins, especially as you round the corner and head into the final three months? Here are some ideas:
1. Journal your way to new conversations. If you’re a mentoree, keep a daily journal. Between now and your next session, write down challenges and successes you have each day. Don’t overthink: just jot things down as they occur. You’ll be surprised by the conversation topics that will come up.
2. Go with the flow. At the same time, don’t worry if you no longer always have “topics” at hand. By the time a mentoring pair reaches the final months, a natural shift between mentors and mentorees occurs. It’s become more of a true relationship rather than a partnership where the mentor and mentoree are focusing on goals and objectives. When you meet, allow the conversation to happen organically. Talk about whatever is important until you come to the official ending.
3. Mix it up. Making a simple change—the time you meet or the location, for example—can be enough to inspire new perspectives and re-energize participants. So if you’ve been meeting for lunch in the office cafeteria, go for a walk or head off campus to a local coffee shop. Or try early morning instead of afternoon. You get the idea.
4. Ask other mentoring pairs for suggestions. Chances are if you’re part of a formal program, you’re aware of and/or know some other mentoring pairs. Compare notes regarding ideas. You could even do something fun by getting together with another mentoring pair for lunch or coffee and discuss some of the highlights of the previous months—this exercise will likely spark ideas.
5. Don’t mistake natural shifts for a lack of energy or interest. Again, it’s easy to think that these changes indicate a problem, when, in reality, they simply show how the relationship is maturing—and that’s a good thing. It’s the whole point, actually.
Remember, we offer short-term consultations in case you want to discuss certain aspects of your mentoring program. Reach out if you're interested.