Tips for Collaboration and Success When Matches Are Struggling

  • Work with program staff, your mentee’s parent/guardian, or your site-based liaison to identify concerns. This may be a time to revisit your motivation and expectations and reaffirm your commitment to the match. Or, it may be a time to begin a positive closing process. All matches close, and all matches (all relationships!) have ups and downs. Sometimes early closure will benefit both you and your mentee. Other times, a couple of match meetings can get things back on track. Don’t be shy about identifying what is and is not working for you. Describe those moments or activities when your time together is great. And describe the situations that don’t seem workable. Draw upon your instincts and the expertise of your match partners.
  • What strengths do each of you bring to the match? Have you spent time trying to figure out what your shared interests are? Does your mentee have any goals that you could help her or him achieve?
  • What challenges are you facing? Are you needing to feel more respected, appreciated, or present, or do you find your youth disengaged, lost, or withdrawn? Program or site-based staff can often help you take a productive perspective on what’s happening − they’ve addressed these issues regularly.
  • Step back and chat about what each of you expected, and what success looks like, from your perspective and from the perspective of your mentee. Do you have common goals? You may want to have this discussion initially with your mentee’s parents/guardian or program staff, who can guide you in ensuring the conversation with your mentee is positive and productive.
  • How are the other relationships in your mentee’s life going? How about your relationships? Any big life changes for either of you? Do you need to communicate more with the youth’s family? Does your mentee need to understand changes that are occurring in your life? Are either of you distracted by other events? Often youth interpret inattention as lack of interest in them (mentors perceive their mentees’ inattention in the same way), so keeping an open dialogue about what both of you are bringing to your time together is key.
  • Perhaps your mentee simply wanted someone to play games with, whereas you’d hoped to be exploring art galleries and community festivals. Or vice versa! Try to identify common interests and goals. Ask your mentees parent/guardian or your staff support person for ideas and activities that might meet your interests and those of your mentee.
  • Generally, matches can get back on a positive track. If a match closure is on the horizon, it is critical that you work closely with your program staff in order to ensure your mentee retains a positive feeling about the match.