Beyond the Mentoring Relationship

Create a learning plan to continue your professional development.

Paula Moscinski

Your mentoring relationship has come to an end, leaving you with a choice. You can treat the experience as a onetime event in your career, or you can use it as a springboard to launch the next stage of your professional development. The challenges that lie before you may seem daunting now that you are without a mentor. But remember that even with a mentor, you were always responsible for your professional growth.

Maintaining the Momentum

When you became a protege, you made a commitment to yourself to open up to new possibilities, take risks, and learn from every experience. Without a mentor as your personal advocate, you need to find a way to maintain your passion for learning and development. Begin by asking yourself questions that will help you sustain your commitment:

  • What was the one aspect of my development during my mentoring experience that I want to continue cultivating over the next six months to a year?
  • How will focusing on that aspect make me more successful and influence the contribution that I want to make to the organization?
  • What are my risks if I stop right now, and what will I gain if I press on?

Anchored in your commitment to continue on your professional growth path, you're now ready to take a strategic view of your development and chart its direction.

Developing a Plan

The direction that your growth takes can be captured in a learning plan that you create and manage. The plan should be an outgrowth of an assessment that you make of your mentoring experience, so take stock of your mentoring outcomes. What are you taking away from the experience that is most valuable to you? What were your personal transformations? What did you discover your growth edge to be? In other words, what is that skill or personal characteristic you continue to resist or struggle with—the very thing that will get you closer to your vision of success and achievement?

Answering these questions will help you hone in on new avenues for developing your growth edge. Participating in pertinent training programs, 360-degree feedback, job shadowing, and a project outside the scope of your job are just a few learning resources to consider. Show that you are serious about your plan by talking it over with your supervisor and making your professional development goals part of your performance review.

Finding Support

One of the major benefits of your mentoring relationship was the support you received from your mentor. He or she had a personal investment in your success; however, just because your mentor is no longer around doesn't mean that support disappears. You can continue to receive that same kind of guidance and assistance by enlisting a co-worker as your sounding board or connecting with other proteges to form your own support group. Also, depending on the direction of your learning plan, you may want to find a new mentor, one with specific experience in the areas you want to develop. If you had a positive experience and you feel there is still more you can learn, you may even want to renew your relationship with your previous mentor.

Moving beyond the mentoring relationship is more than just holding on to what you gained from the experience. It's about how you plan to build on it as well.

Paula Moscinski is an executive coach and senior consultant at Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc.

Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc.
2 N. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1433
Chicago, IL 60606
(800) 648-0543

From Healthcare Executive, January/February 2003