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When to Stop Working with a Mentor

by | Jul 31, 2023 | Advice, Business, Mentoring

Road Closed sign

Mentoring relationships are an essential part of personal and professional growth. A mentor can offer valuable guidance, support, and advice to help you achieve your goals. I wrote “What is a business mentor?” and “Are you ready to work with a mentor?” recently which address how to start your work with a new mentor. However, there comes a point when it may be time to stop working with a mentor. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding whether to move on.

The Journey of Mastery

The journey of mastery takes you through several stages(*), from explorer to novice, practitioner, expert, and finally, master. Each step requires different support to make the transition – knowledge, skills, experience and finally, insight.

How Long Should You Work with a Mentor?

How long you need to work with a mentor depends on what stage of the journey you are currently on and the stage your mentor is at. Mentors can share their knowledge and skills, but if your business has already embedded the knowledge and learned the skills it needs (at that point, you are a practitioner), this support will no longer be valuable. Expert mentors can also bring the benefit of their experience, but the time will come when your own experience is sufficient for the level of expertise you seek. No mentor can lift you beyond their level.

Signs That It May Be Time to Move On

Several signs suggest it may be time to stop working with a mentor. One of the most important is when you have reached the same level of expertise that your mentor can offer. Move on if you are no longer learning new things from your mentor. Another sign is when your goals and objectives no longer align with your mentor’s. If you are no longer working towards the same goals, move on. In both cases, it’s time to find a new mentor who can better support your current objectives.

How to End a Mentoring Relationship

Ending a mentoring relationship can be difficult. That is because you will have shared many personal experiences with your mentor, your confidant; it can feel emotional to end the arrangement. Of course, it is essential to do so respectfully and professionally. Scheduling a time to meet with your mentor, ideally face to face, to discuss your decision. Be honest and direct about your reasons for wanting to end the relationship. Thank your mentor for their time and support, because in many ways the only reason you can, and must, move on is because they have achieved your objective.

Conclusion

Mentoring relationships can be precious but are not meant to last forever. Knowing when to stop working with a mentor is an integral part of the mentoring process. By considering your goals and objectives and your mentor’s level of expertise, you can make an informed decision about when it is time to move on.

(*) There is more detail about the stages of the journey of mastery in Intentional Mastery; Step beyond your expertise and build better business, by William Buist and it is available here…

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Written by: William Buist - all rights reserved.