3 Approaches for Determining the Appropriate Time to End a Mentorship Program

Published on
November 20, 2014

As with any relationship, finding a business mentor can be a gratifying and reciprocally beneficial experience. But if the relationship is not going as anticipated and you are not gaining the expertise and guidance from the relationship you wished for, it might be time to move on. An essential part of developing a successful mentoring relationship is identifying when it isn't working or is no longer needed. Read on to learn how to identify the signs of a declining mentorship and when it's a point to stop it.


One of the biggest challenges in a mentoring program is ending the relationship because it may surprise or begrudge. But you must put these worries aside and remember that this is your career; you must keep moving ahead. An evident sign that it is time to end the relationship is when mentors/mentees feel that they have achieved their goals. In this case, there should be no concerns about hurt feelings or discomfort. Both parties have achieved what they set out to do, and both should feel rewarded for a successful mentorship. Likewise, if much effort is being put into a mentorship that is not profiting any party (mentor and mentee) or not going anywhere, it is best to move on, and there should be no hurt feelings. Ultimately, a mentor/mentee relationship is a business relationship with goals and expectations. If those expectations are not met, then both parties are better off ending the relationship and seeking a program that fits.

Progress is Unclear

One of the goals of a successful mentor/mentee program is to provide an interactive learning experience. Throughout the program, participants should be proactive and evaluate the relationship regularly. At these intervals, both the mentor and mentee should be able to identify what they've learned, how they've grown, and what goals they've achieved. If regular evaluations do not yield positive results or aren't being conducted at all, then that is a sign the relationship isn't working. Perceptions are essential, and they can be developed early on. If either the mentor or mentee perceives that sufficient effort and dedication are not being put forth, the relationship will inevitably fail. Recognize the signs early on, and don't be afraid to pull the plug if the time is right.

Communication is a Struggle

In a successful mentor/mentee relationship, regular communication is vital. Participants should make a point to stay in touch, if only through occasional emails. Face-to-face interaction is meaningful, too, as it cultivates trust and sustains momentum. If one party is avoiding the other, either by declining invitations to meet or not responding to communications, this is a sign that something is amiss. You can try to reopen the lines of communication, but once trust is lost, it is tough to gain it back. Both a mentor and mentee need to know that all parties are invested in the relationship's success, and if they constantly have to struggle over communication, then it is time to move on.  

If you do decide to end your mentorship, try not to do it abruptly. Give as early notice as possible, and always end the relationship in person. More often than not, both parties are already aware that the mentorship is failing or has run its course, so there really shouldn't be any surprises. Be polite and courteous, and be sure to thank them for their time. When done right, ending a mentorship program can be the final step in ensuring a successful mentorship relationship.

Succeed in mentoring with Mentor Cloud

Are you struggling with a declining mentorship? Contact MentorCloud to understand the signs and what steps you should take towards advancing. If this post was valuable to you, please feel free to share it across your social media channels. Also, please give us your thoughts on best practices and your experiences with mentoring. Thank you for reading, and check back in every Monday and Thursday for original posts on the #powerofmentoring!

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