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When Your Mentee Doesn't Participate Regularly

This article is meant to help mentors navigate the program when their mentees are inconsistent. There will always be ebbs and flows with any pair relationship. However, you may only know some context when there's a drop off in communication and find yourself lost as to what to do next. Below offers some guidance of how to approach moving forward. And as always, your program manager is there to help support you and your mentee.

Some of the ways you may see your mentee exhibit inconsistent behavior are:

  • Uncommunicative: Your mentee no longer sends regular updates on their progress, and communication is sporadic and irregular.
  • Disengaged: When your mentee does take the time to check in, they don’t have much to report or any questions to ask. This indicates that the mentorship has not been a priority for them.
  • Unreliable: Your mentee has begun to miss scheduled meetings and task completion dates. Their inconsistency shows they are no longer taking the mentorship seriously.

Why your mentee may be inconsistent

Your mentee may drop off in communication for various of known and unknown reasons. There's a certain level of disruption and distraction in the life of a high school student. Their attention span, time, and energy is getting pulled in seemingly endless directions. Your mentee may be juggling school, employment, extracurriculars, friendships, family obligations, a significant other, hobbies, and the college application process on any single day.

As for why they may not be completing their lessons regularly, they may have recently come down with an illness, they may be getting pulled out of the iMentor class for school-related programs and initiatives, there might have been family bereavement, a change of class schedule, and countless other scenarios.

In this occurrence, the best thing you can do as a mentor is be understanding a sympathetic. You may hear your mentee say things like, "I don't care about iMentor." The important part to remember is that there may be an underlying factor to why they're reacting strongly to the program itself. Something doesn't have to be grave in order to affect your mentee. So practice patience, and be there for you mentee whenever they come back around.

Where you may see it

As a mentor, you may feel disempowered when your mentee is inconsistent or absent in communication. When this occurs there are some concrete steps you can take in order to be proactive. Remember one of the most powerful things you can do as a mentor is to model the behavior you wish to see in your mentee.

Lessons

Complete your lessons on time every week. This ensures that your mentee always has something to read, even if they don't write anything themselves. You also don't want to miss a couple of weeks because your mentee missed a couple of weeks, and before you know it there hasn't been content created in a month or so on the platform. It may seem awkward to complete Lesson activities when there is nothing to work off of, but using the lesson as the overarching theme, you can write more universally about any one topic. 

Conversations

Another opportunity to try to check in with your mentee is Conversations. The feature is always available to use even if you've completed your Lesson for the week. Utilize the tool to send short and informal messges, links, images, or anything else your mentee may be interested in. If your mentee is responsive on Conversations, they may be more likely to consistently participate in other ways. 

Events & In-Person Meetings

Your mentee may have RSVPed to an event to later not show up. This can be incredibly frustrating to mentors who make it to every event. However, the more you stay consistent, the more likely the mentee will become consistent over time. This is critical to building a strong personal relationships. Meeting in-person is critical to becoming a strong pair. So if your mentee has not shown up to a specific event, you can reschedule it at a later date at another location. Plus, you can meet your mentee for a Pair Expedition (formally known as Out of Program - OOP) if you've been permissioned to. Although it is sometimes frustrating to be consistent when your mentee is not, it is one of the greatest skills you can exhibit to your mentee.

How you may change it

Maintaining a strong and sustainable relationship with your mentee can be an easy task if these simple yet powerful points are kept in mind:

  • Encourage your mentee to initiate conversations about progress and development from time-to-time.
  • Plan your activities well in advance and keep a written schedule so that both parties are in sync.
  • Change the style of meetings once in a while to break the monotony and keep your interactions interesting and engaging. You might alternate the format you use for meetings, such as phone, video, or email conferencing.
  • Ensure that your mentee is aware of your confidentiality so as to encourage transparency in communication and motivate honesty.
  • Encourage your mentee to revisit goal statements and long-term plans on a regular basis and make adjustments to them based on progress and new knowledge gained.
  • State your expectations from the beginning and find out what expectations your mentee has. 

These points may seem simple and intuitive, but they often get overlooked, and they can mean the difference between a mentee who is fully engaged and one who has completely checked out. Taking the time to incorporate these practices into your mentorship will ensure that your mentee remains enthusiastic and productive throughout the relationship.