Cameron School of Business at UNCW

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Posted by Swain Center on Jan 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM


Guest Blogger: Laura Lunsford, Ph.D., Director, Swain Center for Executive & Professional Development

We tend to spend a lot of time at the start of relationships but neglect paying attention to how we might end them well.

For example, would-be lovers woo us with promises of dinners, chocolates, flowers. Yet breakups are usually seen as unpleasant. We spend time orienting new employees to organizations and hopefully to their new colleagues.

If employees leave on good terms they may have a reception at work to say goodbye (or not so good terms – well no party). When starting a mentoring relationship, we might devote time to getting to know the other person and understanding what their goals and aspirations are. What is the right way to ‘end’ mentoring?

When mentoring occurs naturally, relationships seem to move to their natural end by either drifting slowly apart or maintaining an enduring relationship for a lifetime. However, formal (assigned) mentoring relationships have a clear start and end dates. At least, the relationship ends or changes from what was originally constructed.

Being a great mentor (or mentee) also means you give attention to ending a mentoring relationship well. Mentoring relationships, like other relationships we have, go through stages.

Folks who study mentoring believe there are four stages:

Stage 1: Initiation

When you first get to know one another and establish goals to work on together.

Stage 2: Cultivation

When the main work of the relationship takes place through meeting are working together on a collaborative activity.

Stage 3: Separation

When there is a change to the structure of the relationship. In this case, moving from a formally supported relationship to perhaps a more informal relationship. It is a good time to reflect on accomplishments.

Stage 4: Redefinition

When it is time for the relationship to transition to friendship, colleague-ship, or no relationship.
Devote some time to stages 3 & 4. It is important to spend time at the "official" end to reflect on accomplishments and to look forward and think about how you might wish to stay in touch without the expectation or structure of a formal program.

Tips on Questions

Mentors might ask...

  • What did you learn in our time together?
  • Who might your next mentor be?
  • How would you like to stay in touch?

Mentees might ask...

  • What did you learn from mentoring me?
  • Why did you decide to be a mentor?
  • What advice do you have for me?
  • How would you like to stay in touch?

Consider having a celebratory moment, even if just a photo, to celebrate your time together.

Topics: Swain Center, mentoring

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Cameron School of Business at UNCW

UNCW was established as Wilmington College in 1947. The Department of Business and Economics became the Cameron School of Business in 1979. Focused on the transformation of today’s business world from the industrial age into the information age, business education at the Cameron School of Business is focused on the technical, analytical and interpersonal skills students will need to lead this fundamental change in the business world through the 21st century.

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