A good mentoring closure experience offers mentors and mentees an opportunity to take stock and plan for the future. Not everyone is comfortable with having a closure conversation.
“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry that we are moving up, rather than out.” (Ellen Goodman)
- Good closure offers an opportunity to maximize and leverage learning. Spend time creating a shared sense of progress as you bring your relationship to a close. Whether you are a mentor or mentee, preparing in advance for final mentoring meeting will help you maximize and leverage your learning. Ask yourself the following questions: In what ways have I grown and developed? What have I learned about myself? How has that learning contributed to my professional development?
- Good closure offers an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to move on gracefully. Never close the door to a mentoring relationship without opening the next door. Once you’ve reviewed what you’ve learned, spend time talking about the future and the next step in your learning and development journey.
- Good closure creates developmental momentum that extends far beyond the lifecycle of the mentoring relationship. Mentoring partners often come away with significantly deep learning that is sustainable over time. Think about your mentors, past and present. Chances are your mentors’ wisdom resides within you as the “voice in your head.”
- Good closure offers an opportunity to return. Your relationship with your mentoring partner will be different once the mentoring relationship ends. You may decide to continue the relationship on an ad hoc basis or informally. Be proactive and talk about these changes before they take place. Once you have redefined your relationship, it is time to “let go” of the relationship as it was and embrace it as it will be.
Takeaway: According to author Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , “We’re always in a hurry to move forward. We don’t like to look back,” to reflect (USA Weekend, September 9, 2012). And yet, this is precisely what is required to experience good closure of a mentoring relationship.