At all phases of the mentoring relationship, both you and your mentee should feel motivated and confident that each is contributing toward shared goals. Once the mentoring relationship has served its purpose and the long-term goals are achieved, or it becomes clear that those goals are not going to be met, it is helpful to have a framework or set of conditions in place for when the association should change or end.
Mentor Responsibilities in the Closure Phase:
- Be sensitive to when the relationship has run its course
- After formal mentoring relationship is finished, follow up on your mentee’s successes
- Provide a summative evaluation of the experience
- Say “thank you” and give credit where credit is due
- Learn from your experience when mentoring others
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Preparing for Closure
If closure is to be a meaningful experience, mentoring partners must prepare and plan for it beginning in the Alignment phase. The first step toward closure is a review of the intentions laid out in the mentoring plan. What was accomplished? What is yet to be done? What really worked? What was not successful? By meaningfully engaging in these questions, good closure should catapult both parties forward into a new stage.
Typical reasons for closure/redefinition:
- Accomplished intended achievement (e.g. independent grant, promotion, etc.)
- Lack of adequate progress toward goals
- You or your mentee leaves institution
- Shift in mentee’s research focus & development
To ensure meaningful closure, consider the following:
- Be proactive. Agree on how you will come to closure when you first negotiate your mentoring partnership. Make one of the ground rules an agreement to end on good terms. Many mentoring partners adopt the no-fault rule, meaning that there is no blaming if the partnership is not working or one person is uncomfortable.
- Look for signals. Check out your perceptions and assumptions when the first indicators appear.
- Respect your partner. If he or she wants to end the relationship and you don’t, you must honor their wishes.
- Evaluate the relationship. Periodically, check out the health of the relationship. Make sure your needs and those of your partner are both being met. Make ongoing evaluation a commitment.
- Review your goals. Regularly review your goals and objectives with your mentoring partner. Gauge where you and your partner are in the accomplishment of goals and objectives.
- Integrate. When it is time to come to closure, ask how you can use what you’ve learned. Without closure, you lose the value-added dimension of integration. Good closure involves taking what you’ve learned from the mentoring relationship and applying it. Focus on both the process and the content of the learning in your discussion.
- Celebrate. Find meaningful ways to celebrate your accomplishments and be vocal in your appreciation of each other.
- Move on. Once you have redefined your relationship, “let go” of the relationship as it was and embrace it as it will be going forward.
From Zachary L. and Fischler L., (2009). The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 99-103.
Topics include: ending the relationship
- Holmes, D. (2010). Mentoring: Making the transition from mentee to mentor. American Heart Association Journal, 121, 336.
- Chong, S. (2009). Mentoring: Are we doing it right? Annals Academy of Medicine, 38(7), 643.