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What to do When There’s a Problem with Your Mentoring Relationship

Previously: Preparing for LANS with your mentor(s)

How to be a proactive problem-solver

From time to time, you may encounter difficulties with your mentoring relationship. Perhaps your mentor has not responded to your last few emails or you run out of time during your meetings. The first step with these (and most other difficulties) is to be proactive. If you are having trouble getting in touch with your mentor, review your notes from your expectations-setting conversation to see if they mentioned any times when they have a hard time responding to emails or if they said that they respond best to phone calls. Doing so will allow you to be proactive and change your communication strategy. If you and your mentor tend to run out of time during your meetings, develop an agenda for each one and prioritize the most important items.  

If taking some of these proactive steps does not resolve the issue, have a conversation with your mentor about it. Remember that you are collaborators in this endeavor. As collaborators, you may need to re-calibrate the way you work together. If you are having trouble getting in touch with your mentor and they have not suggested alternative modes of communication, you may start a conversation by asking if there is a better way to maintain contact. If your meetings run out of time for important items even with an agenda, you two may be able to find a different time to meet or you may try sending your mentor your questions in advance of the meeting so that they have time to think through them.

If taking proactive steps and talking with your mentor does not solve the challenges in your mentor-mentee relationship, speak with your summer coordinator. They may be able to speak with your mentor on your behalf or find some other solution to the problem.

Action Item:

Review the expectation-setting documentation your mentor might have sent you (such as a mentoring compact or communication and feedback plan) to see if they should be revised or adjusted.

Up Next: Keeping your mentor(s) up-to-date after the summer ends