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Never Can Say Goodbye: Strategic Transitions in Mentorship Programs

Never Can Say Goodbye: Strategic Transitions When Mentors Leave

Never Can Say Goodbye: Strategic Transitions in Mentorship Programs

If you’re running a mentorship program, you’re going to have to deal with constant transitions. Coworkers will leave for new jobs, short-term mentorships will end, and participants may feel at a loss as to how to move forward.


Call us dramatic if you want, but ask anyone who’s had a particularly helpful mentor move on to another job, and they’ll tell you it’s tough. You can help the mentee move forward. Here’s how:

Encourage them to continue the relationship. While you are focused on managing mentoring within the company, remind the mentee that he or she can always speak with their mentor about keeping regular coffee dates on their own time. For Linkedin, Jason Sindel writes, “Take the time to establish that relationship beyond work so that you can still draw on them for ideas and advice. Also, always remember that good bosses never forget good employees and other opportunities may exist for you far beyond your immediate position.”

Call them in for a feedback meeting

Determining new goals and strategies begins with going over the successes and failures of the previous mentorship. Contributors for the Forbes Leadership section note that it’s important to take the time to “identify what role your mentor played in your career.” The mentee can move forward by determining if the same role needs to be filled by someone new, or if it’s time to seek a mentor with a different skill set and position.

If a mentee had a particularly stellar relationship with their mentor, he or she might not be so keen on replacing that person. Explain your company’s options for short-term, project-oriented mentoring or even reverse mentoring to present the mentee with a new challenge.  

Mandate an exit interview between the mentor and mentee

Not only should mentees talk to you about their experience, but mentors and mentees should facilitate their own exit interviews. This experience will help both parties to grow in the future and identify what they need in their next mentoring relationship.

Involve the mentee to assist as the company transitions

If the mentor that left was an impactful senior team member, the transition won’t only affect the mentee. Give the mentee specific tasks to help the mentor’s replacement acclimate to his or her new position. These duties could include making introductions, showing them around the office, or just showing them a great local lunch spot.

However you choose to manage this adjustment, the most important part of your job is letting the mentee know that you know he or she might be anxious. As your coworker anticipates losing an important connection, reassure him or her that you’re there as an advocate through their transition.

Kate Mason