Last year my company hired someone to deliver a mentoring workshop, and at the end we were all assigned a mentor. I got stuck with this guy who barely communicates, isn’t interested in helping me, and we haven’t even gotten together in months. Every time I pass him in the hall, I feel weird because we’re not doing anything the program taught us. Yet, no one in my company is formally checking up on these relationships either. I’d prefer not to work with him, but don’t know what to do.
My Mentor’s a Mess
Dear My Mentor’s a Mess,
Mentoring relationships are most successful when they’re voluntary, and it doesn’t sound like your company took that into consideration when assigning mentors with protégés. Even if expectations were clearly defined in the beginning, it sounds as if both of you have dropped the ball.
As a protégé you are just as responsible for making this relationship work, so I encourage you to set up a meeting with your mentor to discuss the situation. Be clear, direct and say, “Thank you for meeting with me, as I’d like to discuss our roles as mentor/protégé. Given that we haven’t been consistent on meeting or discussing accomplishments, I’m curious to know if you think this is something we should re-commit to, adjust or simply move on?”
If your mentor throws it back in your lap and asks what you’d like to do, say, “I appreciate what you’ve been able to provide up to now, and I don’t want to take more of your time on this. I’d like to stay in touch, however, and let you know how things go.” That way you’ve graciously left the door open for future conversations without a structured relationship. Now you don’t have to dodge him when he’s coming down the hallway! Be on the lookout for a replacement — you’ll be glad you did.