What To Do If Your Mentorship Relationship Is A Bad Match

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Dec. 28 2023, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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Imagine you’re in your career growth journey, ready to climb the ladder. Your mentor is supposed to guide you, but things aren’t going smoothly.

Mentorship is like a career guide, giving you insights and support. For millennial women, it’s crucial for turning goals into reality, but even the best partnerships can have hiccups.

Signs Of A Bad Mentorship Match

Just 37% of professionals currently have a mentor, and 90% of those with a mentor express increased career satisfaction. Recognizing these signs is crucial for steering your mentorship ship back on a course or knowing when to seek a new navigational partner. 

After all, a mentorship that lacks these key elements is like a ship without a compass, making it challenging to reach your professional destination:

1. There’s a lack of communication.

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Effective mentorship relies on open dialogue. Suppose your mentor is more elusive than available and meaningful conversations are rare. That could be a sign of a mismatch. Communication is the glue that holds mentorships together, and when it’s lacking, the partnership may not flourish.

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2. You’re not getting constructive feedback.

Honest and constructive feedback is the backbone of mentorship. Input from others is vital in shaping your overall career assessment. A mentor should be a supportive critic, helping refine your skills and navigate challenges with valuable insights.

3. Your mentor is often unavailable or lacks enthusiasm in interest.

A mentorship match requires active engagement from both parties. A mentor that consistently appears disinterested or is frequently unavailable can hinder your ability to learn and grow. Someone who invests in your development is present, attentive and committed to your success.

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Why Recognizing A Bad Match Is Crucial

A bad match in mentorship can shake your confidence and throw off your career path. It’s like walking a tightrope without a safety net. 

Mentoring matters because it helps people grow into valuable members of society. Spotting a mismatch early is vital to keep your confidence intact and ensure your career stays on the right track.

A mentorship that isn’t working can lead to burnout and frustration. It can feel like running on a treadmill with no progress. Addressing a bad match early will help prevent this from happening.

Tips For Addressing A Bad Mentorship Match

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Addressing a challenging mentorship involves a proactive and strategic approach. Here’s how you can transform a struggling mentorship into a more productive and fulfilling one:

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Initiate an open and honest conversation.

Start by scheduling a meeting with your mentor to discuss your concerns openly. Frame the conversation positively, emphasizing your desire for a more effective and supportive mentorship. Use mindfulness techniques like controlled breathing or positive thinking to reduce anxiety. Avoid blame and focus on finding common ground.

Seek feedback and express concerns.

Actively seek feedback from your mentor regarding their perspective on the mentorship. Express your concerns tactfully, providing specific examples if necessary. Creating an environment where constructive criticism is welcome can lead to a more transparent dialogue.

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Explore alternative communication methods.

If face-to-face meetings aren’t working, explore alternative methods. Some people prefer virtual meetups to traditional ones. Every day, 350 million individuals use Zoom for meetings. Experiment with email updates, scheduled video calls or even occasional check-ins to find a communication style that suits your mentor’s availability and your preferred mode of interaction.

Reevaluate and adjust goals collaboratively.

Take a collaborative approach to reevaluating goals. Discuss and adjust your objectives to align with your evolving professional aspirations and your mentor’s expertise. This shared goal-setting process can inject renewed purpose into the mentorship.

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Consider seeking guidance from mentorship organizations.

If challenges still persist, reach out to mentorship organizations for additional support. They often have resources, workshops or experienced advisers who specialize in navigating complex dynamics. Utilizing external guidance can provide valuable insights and strategies.

How To Turn A Bad Match Into A Good One

When faced with a challenging mentorship, be proactive. Talk openly, seek feedback or try different communication methods. These strategies can turn a struggling connection into a valuable asset.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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