Sustaining (or Dissolving!) the Relationship
In the first two parts of this series, we provided tips and strategies for both establishing and strengthening a successful mentoring relationship. Now we’ll take a look at how to sustain and appreciate the connection and also determine when, how, and why to “break up” or dissolve the relationship.
Once Jodi and Ryan had settled into a comfortable routine, they took time to reflect on the schedule of their check-ins and decided that transitioning to a monthly frequency would be more appropriate and still sufficient, since their relationship was firmly established and Ryan was more confident in his grant professional role. They also continued to connect via email in between check-ins, sometimes to follow up on a discussion item, sometimes to reschedule a check-in, and sometimes just to give general life updates to help maintain that personal connection.
As Ryan grew and developed in his role, he didn’t need the same type of foundational support from Jodi, but she could still act as a sounding board when he encountered challenges or needed some outside perspective on continuing to promote the importance of grants to others in his organization. He was able to more proactively interact with colleagues and leadership, even reaching the point of having his CEO produce an organization-wide communication to highlight grant development efforts and processes.
Working with his supervisor, Ryan also developed an organizational grants policy and set of procedures for all grant applications. Basically, these guiding documents placed the onus on his organization’s department managers to assign staff members to communicate and plan with Ryan throughout the grant proposal process. The policy and procedures also apply to Ryan’s collaboration with outside project partners, including the Northwest Colorado Recreation Foundation, which is currently enlisting his help on grant proposals to build a community recreation center.
Now that Ryan has the support system he needs within his organization to sustain his success, what happens next with Jodi’s mentorship? Does the relationship between Jodi and Ryan continue indefinitely? And if not, when, how, and why do the partners choose to dissolve the relationship? Part of mindful mentoring includes not only appreciating the benefits of the relationship from both sides but also the ability to know when to “break up.”
One potential catalyst for a wrap-up may be if one partner experiences life or work changes that impact the relationship. And in fact, Jodi recently changed jobs to pursue a new opportunity focusing on her education background, so she will be continuing her grants work only on an ad-hoc basis through some contract work rather than as an essential responsibility of her job function. However, Ryan and Jodi both agreed to sustain the mentoring relationship through at least the end of this year, since Jodi’s expertise and understanding remain valid and helpful for Ryan as he continues to evolve from a true novice to a more intermediate grant professional.
And both of them also continue to benefit personally and professionally from the connection!
Ryan was able to find balance by implementing several mindful strategies, such as seeking support by finding a mentor through the Grant Professional Association’s (GPA) Mentor Match program, asking Jodi questions as he navigated his “newbie” experiences, and taking full advantage of available resources – including both Jodi and the GPA! As a mentor, Jodi has found satisfaction in nourishing the next generation of grant professionals, helping to keep talented and passionate people in the industry, and giving back to the grant community at large by sharing her experience and expertise. Jodi and Ryan will additionally make a joint presentation on their mentoring relationship at November’s 2019 GPA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
For all these reasons, Jodi and Ryan highly encourage other grant professionals to seek opportunities to become a mentor or mentee. GPA offers an easy and efficient method for members to find a match, and a mindful mentoring relationship can benefit not only the individuals involved but also the grant industry and community as a whole.
So get out there and find your mindful mentor match!