Things to consider when closing a mentoring match

Communication is the biggest component in managing and closing a mentoring match.

It is important for individuals in a mentoring match to spend time getting to know each other. This time spent is a part of the relationship building process. Matches can get to know each other by doing a variety of activities including sports, school work and social outings. A solid relationship is needed to establish trust between an adult mentor and youth.

As mentoring matches focus on the growth of their relationships, mentoring professionals have to always be aware of circumstances that would cause a match to close. You never want a match to close due to low or no communication. This is why match support is so important. Mentoring matches should have an identified professional to contact if they are having issues in their match or challenges in communicating or meeting. Some match closures can be avoided if individuals communicate and have support.

There are various reasons why a mentoring match may need to close. A few examples include mentor requests a close, mentee requests a close, parent or guardian requests a close, mentor cannot get in contact with mentee, mentee cannot get in contact with mentor, non-compatibility, participant is no longer interested or a participant is too busy.

Things to consider when closing a mentoring match:

  • Ask yourself if the match was properly supported.
  • Think about things you could have been done differently (mentoring professional).
  • Communicate with the mentor, youth and family.
  • Ask why the mentor, mentee or family wants to close the match.
  • Ask if anything could have been done different to prevent the issue or challenge.
  • Brainstorm ways for match to remain open.
  • Inform all parties verbally or by mail about the match closure (mentor, youth, parents).
  • Facilitate a match closure meeting.
  • Rematch mentor and or youth as soon as possible.

Communication is the biggest component in managing and closing a mentoring match. If a mentoring match is having challenges, encourage participants to communicate with each other and their mentoring professional. If the identified staff member is in constant communication with the match, then there is a better chance of the match working through challenges and not closing. If a mentoring match has to close, remain calm, be honest and make it the least stressful situation for all parties involved.

Michigan State University Extension offers staff mentor training that covers the many stages of adult and youth mentoring matches, including when a match has to close. You can find information regarding mentor training and best practices at the Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring website. 

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