GovLoop has facilitated five cohorts of its government-wide mentoring program over the past four years, connecting more than 250 mentees with seasoned public sector professionals in that time. To help these mentoring partnerships achieve success, we share tips and insights that facilitate the relationship every step of the way.
In talking with program participants and being a mentor myself a few times, I’ve discovered three key questions that help a partnership finish strong. If you’re participating in a formal mentoring relationship right now, consider including these queries in one of your concluding conversations:
1. What Did We Achieve Together? Think back to the beginning of your mentoring relationship. What were your goals? What were your core challenges? Did you achieve your goals? Did you address and overcome the challenges? Try to pinpoint 2-3 specific victories that you achieved because of your mentoring partnership. Name them. Celebrate them together. You’re both better because you’ve known one another - express gratitude for the opportunity.
2. What Lessons Did We Learn? Maybe you missed the mark on a couple goals. Maybe you attempted something significant and came up short. Maybe you moved in a different direction entirely. Take stock of the mishaps, the missteps, the miscalculations and the missed opportunities. There’s just as much (and sometimes more!) to learn from those experiences. Ask “why did that happen?” with your mentor as a sounding board and reframe the outcome not as ‘failure’, but as a bit of data that makes you far more savvy when you run into similar circumstances down the road.
3. What’s Next? Ask this question in two ways:
- What’s the next step for your career? Ask your mentor for advice on what he or she thinks is your next move. Share some ideas proactively, bouncing them off your mentor to gain insight or reveal blind spots. Set new goals and/or refine your original ones.
- What’s next for your mentoring partnership? Most GovLoop mentoring relationships continue beyond the formal conclusion of a cohort. Perhaps you won’t meet as frequently, but could move to a monthly or quarterly sync ups. Whatever it is you’d like to do, decide together whether you’re bringing the relationship to a close or establishing a new rhythm for the future.
If you ask these three questions as a mentoring partnership, you'll more effectively close out your partnership by celebrating your successes, citing your lessons learned and setting the course for impact beyond your time together.
Have you been in a mentoring pairing? What else has worked for you in finishing a relationship strong?