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Taking the right steps for healthy closure

It is very important that closure happens in a well-managed way. When healthy closure happens, participants feel a sense of accomplishment and the ability to move on.  Additionally, healthy closure allows for both the benefits of the mentee and mentor experience to be protected.  When appropriate closure does not happen, our mentees can feel betrayed, distrustful of other adults, not valued, etc.  Even worse, a match that does not end effectively can undo all of the work that was put into the relationship in the past and actually result in worse outcomes for young people than if they had never received a mentor, as articulated by mentoring research (Rhodes, 2009).

Healthy Match Closure Process

Healthy match closure is typically executed as follows:

  1. PM discusses the possibility of un-matching a pair in a weekly check-in with their manager;
  2. PM discusses un-matching with mentor to prepare them to play their role in achieving healthy closure with their mentee;
  3. PM discusses un-matching with mentee to normalize the experience and let them know what to expect;
  4. PM diligently updates the platform profile (for both mentee and mentor) with detailed notes, email conversations, or anything that would help future platform users understand the approach to un-matching;
  5. PM fosters at least one final interaction between the pair
    • Ideally, this is an online interaction where pairs engage in a conversation using the advice below and an in-person meeting to continue/conclude the conversation.  However, if in-person meetings are logistically impossible, the online interaction must be completed.
  6. PM formally un-matches pair on platform (link un-matching process);
  7. PM processes mentee and mentor records appropriately on the platform (i.e., queue mentee/mentor up for new match, if applicable);
  8. PM provides a buffer time of 2-3 weeks prior to re-matching mentees;
    • During this time, PMs should encourage mentees to continue reflecting on their previous relationship in the context of thinking through what they would like in their next mentor.  PMs should periodically check-in with mentees to get a sense of what kind of mentor would be a strong match for the mentee.

The Mentee Healthy Closure Experience

Sometimes mentees will begin to withdraw as they anticipate the ending of the relationship. Mentees can seem suddenly indifferent, cold or dropped out. People, especially young adults, do this to protect themselves from getting hurt. You may even see this in mentors! Be on the lookout for this and don’t take this behavior at face value.

Advice for Mentees

In both email and face-to-face closures, PMs encourage mentees to follow these strategies in closing the relationship:

  1. Talk about your feelings about the match ending
  2. Reflect on the past year:
    • Point out a time when your mentor helped you handle a difficult situation well
    • Share something you learned from your mentor
    • Share your favorite memory together
  3. Thank mentor for trying to be helpful
  4. If you plan on staying in touch, make sure you both understand how long you will stay in contact and in what way (i.e., two years, one email on the first of every month)

The Mentor Healthy Closure Experience

It is common and perfectly normal for mentors to feel relieved, sad, anxious or even guilty at the end of a match. If mentors express any of these feelings with you, let them know that this is to be expected and that this is a normal experience to have.

Advice for Mentors

In both email and face-to-face closures, PMs encourage mentors to follow these strategies in closing the relationship:

  1. Reflect on the past year:
    • Highlight a strength that you have seen your mentee develop
    • Point out a time when your mentee handled a difficult situation well
    • Highlight an accomplishment of theirs
    • Share something you learned from them
  2. Discuss their future
    • Remind them of the plans they have brought up with you in the past (this could be about academic, career or personal goals)
    • Ask them about any other goals, plans and dreams they have and encourage them to follow through
    • Remind them that you believe in them
  3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
    • Do not tell your mentee that you will stay in touch unless you would like to enroll in the Alumni pairs program
    • If you plan on staying in touch, make sure you both understand how long you will stay in contact and in what way (i.e.; Two years, one email on the first of every month)
  4. If mentee seems sad, anxious, angry, etc., tell the mentee that you notice this and ask them if they want to discuss this.