What to Do When Your Mentoring Relationship Has Stalled Out

Laura Francis
Written by
Laura Francis

How to Get Momentum Going Again

Mentoring momentumA good mentoring relationship can have a powerful impact on the people involved. It can help you build confidence as you improve your skills in critical areas. It can help you advance your career as you build your network and gain insights from experts. It can help you make profound connections with colleagues and improve your overall feelings toward your workplace and organization.

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. Here are four ways you can reinvigorate your mentoring relationship and get momentum back again.

1. Request feedback on why things have stalled.

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. (Check out our Mentoring Health Assessment eBook for more on maintaining a healthy relationship.)

To get started, ask for feedback from your partner to gauge their 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 look at things 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, what you wish were working better, etc. That deeper dive into your opinions of the relationship can give you a starting point for making adjustments.

Ideas for Mentoring Activities

2. Reexamine your mentoring goals.

Another step you can take to get momentum going in your mentoring relationship is to reassess your mentoring goals. Perhaps you don’t feel like you are progressing anymore or that your conversations have become monotonous or routine. These could be signs that the focus of your relationship is off-kilter. (Here are some signs you may need to end your mentoring relationship.)

Take the opportunity to reexamine the goals you set for this relationship. Are these goals still valid? Have they been met? Have your needs changed? Do these goals still fit with where your relationship has evolved to? 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. Reminding yourselves of why you started this relationship in the first place can be a great motivator to inspire you to give attention and take action in this relationship once again.

3. Reorder your priorities.

As with reexamining your goals, you should also reassess your priorities for your mentoring relationship. Once you have revised or entirely new goals formed, you may find that you need to switch some priorities around as well. Goals that may have been important to you at the beginning of your relationship may no longer be as critical now. They may not even be goals for this relationship anymore. This is something you will need to determine.

Keep in mind that the priorities you have may differ from your mentoring partner. This is a key moment when you want to engage in open and honest conversations with your partner as you determine where this relationship should go. If your priorities have shifted, this may in turn mean that your commitment to the relationship has shifted as well. If possible, use this opportunity to recommit yourself to the mentoring relationship and the goals you have developed together. But 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 just might be best to end the relationship and move on, should the new priorities point you in that direction. It’s better to end things and move on, rather than stay in a dysfunctional relationship.

Mentoring relationship4. 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 focus, then you need to recommit yourself to the relationship and to your mentoring partner. Make a promise to yourself and to them that you will be responsive, reflective, engaged, and dedicated to the relationship—and ask for your partner to do the same.

Determine how you will hold one another responsible for your commitments and explicitly state that you will call one another out if you see old habits starting again. Affirm that you are building a safe space for honest dialogue where you can express your needs, opinions, fears, and hopes, which will allow you to put energy back into your relationship. And don’t forget the practical things, such as setting up recurring meetings with your mentoring partner and committing to keeping those appointments.

Getting momentum back into your mentoring relationship can be done—if you want it to happen. You have to decide if the relationship is worth your time and energy. If it is, then you owe it to yourself and your mentoring partner to make the effort to do it well.

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