How to cope when your mentor leaves the company

Turnover is hard. It’s hard on senior management, it’s hard on the morale of a team, and it’s especially hard if it directly affects you. And while turnover does indeed happen everywhere, it’s not every day that it involves the departure of a mentor and close friend of yours.

While it’s easy to let the immediate shock of that individual no longer being there every day to get to you — and no doubt understandable — it’s also important to keep a few things in mind as you adjust to his or her absence:

  1. Put your best foot forward. If your mentor happened to be your manager, you have to accept that a new manager will eventually step in and he or she will not act the same nor treat you the same as your mentor did. This may be a tough pill to swallow but at the end of the day, your job is still your job and you will want to try to see eye to eye with your new team member. Try and rise to the occasion by remaining positive, upbeat, and taking initiative so that your new boss knows you are a team player. And who knows? This person might not become your next mentor but you might end up learning a new thing or two and be better off for it.
  2. Give it time. With a change in leadership comes a change not just in the way you as an individual are managed but also a change in the overall dynamic of your team. Communication will be different, the team’s chemistry will be off, and the workflow will be jilted. The first few weeks will be difficult, as your new manager will constantly be feeling the shadow of his or her predecessor, and you will be pining for the old days. But remember: with this transition comes a grace period that is necessary for both the newcomer and for you. Think back to when you first started and how many months it took to grasp the ins and outs of the organization, your new role, and the team. And then think about how many more months it took to really feel like you were a part of the team. Instead of thinking of the new manager as the person who took your mentor’s place, embrace this individual and the change as a welcome opportunity to get to know and learn from someone new.
  3. Your mentor can still be your mentor, just in a different way. While your mentor might not physically be at the company anymore, this doesn’t mean he or she is gone from your life. All this means is that you have to seek him or her out and find ways to connect outside of work. Your relationship wasn’t defined by the place you both worked at; rather, it was defined by a connection that isn’t limited by a company or a common building. Although it won’t be as easy to grab lunch during the work week or take a walk for morning coffee before an important meeting, if you are as important to that individual as he or she is to you, you both will make the time to see each other.

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to see someone who you have learned and grown from leave but their departure can mean a new chapter for you, and represent an opportunity for growth for someone else.

I’m 29 years old and here is what I know about myself: word enthusiast, dog lover, new-found cat lover, over-committer, and oftentimes, loyal to a fault.

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