Mentoring relationships can sometimes mimic any other type of relationship in life: They can have moments of frequent connection, followed by lulls in activity. This ebb and flow is natural and could be a reflection of what your relationship needs at any given point in time.
But what happens when your mentoring relationship loses steam and starts to fizzle? Even people with the best intentions can find themselves feeling unmotivated by their mentoring relationship from time to time. If this happens to you, it could be time to give your mentoring relationship a boost to energize it. Try these four steps to reinvigorate your mentoring relationship and regain your momentum.
1. Ask for Feedback
Open dialogue between you and your mentoring partner is critical for a healthy relationship. Asking tough questions of yourself and your partner can help you assess why your relationship seems to be stalled. To start this process, ask for feedback from your partner to gauge his or her opinion on the status of your relationship and see if your views align. Do you both feel like things are not on track, or does one of you see things differently?
A difference of opinion is not necessarily a bad thing; it could just be a sign that you are looking through different lenses, which could actually be helpful. You can use this candid conversation and feedback to discuss how you both view the relationship, what you feel is going well and what you wish were working better. That deep dive into your opinions of the relationship can give you a starting point for making adjustments.
2. Examine Your Mentoring Goals
Do you feel like you aren’t progressing on your mentoring goals or that your conversations have become monotonous or predictable? If so, it could be a sign that the focus of your relationship is not clear. Take the opportunity to reexamine the goals you set for this relationship. Are they still valid? Have they been met? Have your needs changed? Do these goals still fit with how your relationship has evolved? Could new or revised goals help reinvigorate your relationship? Look at your goals with a critical eye, and solicit your mentoring partner’s input as well. Then, redefine your goals as needed.
3. Set Priorities
Goals that may have been important to you at the beginning of your relationship may no longer be as critical now, or they may not even be goals anymore. If your priorities have shifted, you may find that your commitment to the relationship has shifted as well. Use this opportunity to recommit yourself to the mentoring relationship and the goals you have developed together.
If your assessment makes it clear that the mentoring relationship is not aligned with your goals or priorities anymore, don’t be afraid to admit that it might be best to end the relationship and move on, should the new priorities point you in that direction. It is better to end a relationship rather than stay in a dysfunctional one.
4. Recommit to Your Mentoring Relationship and One Another
If you have reassessed your goals and priorities and believe that you can continue with the mentoring relationship with a new (or renewed) focus, recommit yourself to the relationship and to your mentoring partner. Make a promise to yourself and to him or her that you will be responsive, reflective, engaged and dedicated to the relationship — and ask your partner to do the same. Determine how you will hold one another responsible for commitments, and don’t overlook practical considerations, such as setting up recurring meetings with your mentoring partner and pledging to keep those appointments.
It is possible to regain momentum in your mentoring relationship — if you want to. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” I hope your mentoring relationships inspire you in amazing ways every day!