Is it possible to have a mentor that’s no good? Or one that even brings out the worst in you?
Is it ever okay to “fire” them? If so, should you let them down gently or rip off the band-aid, so to speak?
“Mentorships, like any relationships, can be good and bad. Here’s how to evaluate whether it’s working for you and how to end the relationship without burning the bridge – after all, you may need their help in the future,” says Ivan Misner, a professional mentor and Founder of BNI.com, the largest business networking organization in the world.
Ivan is the author of Who’s in Your Room? The Secret to Creating Your Best Life (Hardcover) and he’s been interviewed by NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC’s Your Business, Fox Business, Forbes, Fortune and others. Ivan is available to discuss:
Before embarking on a mentorship, do this:
1. Find out if your mentor is qualified to offer good advice. Before you decide to embark on a mentorship, be sure that this mentor is a high performer in the area that you seek advice. Do your research first, or you’ll be sorry later.
2. Determine if your personalities clash. It’s not uncommon for personalities or behavioral styles to be a mismatch. If you put someone who is extremely data driven together with someone who is extremely relational – it is destined to fail.
3. Decide how often you’ll evaluate it. You should absolutely evaluate your progress regularly. Not only should the mentee be prepared to fire the mentor, but the mentor should be prepared to fire the mentee, just don’t burn bridges in the process! It’s ok to end the mentoring relationship when it is needed as long as it’s done with respect.
If you have to end it, Ivan says here’s how to do so without ruining the relationship:
1. For the mentor: I would start by asking the question: “Is this process working for you?” If so, “Tell me how it is working for you (be specific)?” If it is not working, I’ve said to people: “It’s ok to end the process and consider revisiting it later when it might be a better fit for you.”
2. For the mentee: It would depend on the situation. If the mentor seems too busy, I would say that “I appreciate your interest in helping me but you seem pretty busy and this may not be a good fit for you at this time. Maybe we can pick it back up later when you are more available?” If you are not getting value from the mentorship, I would start by taking a look at YOURSELF. Are you telling the mentor what you really need and are you listening to what they are sharing? If the answer is yes, continue the relationship for a short time in “homeopathic doses” and then gradually remove yourself from the relationship. The person is volunteering their time – there’s no need to confront them on their lack of value.
3. Ivan, have you ever ended a relationship with a mentee? Yes, I’ve had to end relationships with mentees who just didn’t follow through with scheduled meetings or my advice. I always gave them a few chances – but there were times where enough was enough. I don’t like pouring water into a bucket with holes in it when people don’t want to make the effort to patch the holes.