Articles on: For Mentees

Is it Time for a New Mentor?

At some point, most mentorship relationships will reach a critical inflection point where the mentee (or mentor) asks the question: is it time to break up this relationship? Don't worry - this is a natural feeling!

Much like personal relationships, mentorship breakups are not easy to navigate.

We at Plato want to make it easy to meet new mentors and mentees and begin relationships with people you otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet. At the same time, we want to make sure you remain comfortable in your relationships, and, if needed, have a low barrier to exit when you are ready. For this reason, we've established time-based mentorship, which you can read more about here.

But what are some signs to look out for that might help you decide if it is time to move on?

You aren't learning: sometimes mentorships begin to stagnate. This could be for a few reasons: your partner doesn't have the right experience, their experience doesn't resonate with you, or their style of learning simply doesn't align. Sometimes this becomes apparent right away, and sometimes it happens as your goals develop and change. In the end, the most important part of mentorship is being able to better oneself, and if that isn't being achieved in your relationship, it might be a time to change.

Your levels of commitment don't align: we like to think that you get as much out of mentorship as you put in. But sometimes, you can put in effort that isn't reciprocated by your mentorship partner, which can be frustrating and demotivating. Sometimes levels of commitment change over the course of a relationship as well - there could be high engagement as you start to work on a problem together, but that momentum begins to decrease as time goes on. You might start to see action items falling through, and meeting preparation begin to falter.

Your needs shift: we work in an industry where everything can change overnight. In some situations, your mentorship partner might no longer be able to address new questions and challenges that you need to work towards.

Your conversations begin to lose focus: especially in longer-term relationships, conversations may shift from being value-oriented to more of "check-ins" or discussions about ad-hoc topics. This is fine for a few one-off instances, but for Engineering Leaders with busy schedules, we know your time (and your partner's time) is precious. If you aren't getting the value you need out of your 30 minute sessions, perhaps it is time to reflect on your mentorship relationship.

Note that all of these can be relevant signs for both mentees and mentors. Symptoms of these signs often appear as rescheduling or cancelling meetings last minute, a lack of topics to discuss, or a lack of preparation for calls. If you find yourself thinking that it might be time for a switch, it is best to have open conversation with your mentorship partner to address it before those questions become worse.

While Plato will provide you an opportunity to naturally check and reassess your relationship every 6 months, we ask you try your best to keep things professional between you and your mentorship partner.

Be transparent: we're all professionals. Honesty about your questions about your mentorship will be met with respect. More likely than not, if you are having such questions, your mentorship partner is feeling the same way too. It is better to be open about your doubts early, allowing you to either address them or decide to move on, instead of letting them linger.

Reflect on the positives: your relationship with your mentorship partner does not end when your recurring meetings end. We live in a small world, and there is always a chance you will need to reach back out to your mentorship partner in the future. Ending on a positive note, reflecting on shared learnings and appreciating the effort you each put into your time together, will keep your doors open for future connections.

Updated on: 02/14/2023