Feedback is an essential and often overlooked part of a successful mentoring program. When implemented correctly, a mentor can help increase work performance and develop valuable new skills for career development. A mentor program between an experienced individual and a newer employee can be highly beneficial by encompassing feedback from both parties throughout their mentor and learning program.
Feedback allows the mentor to assess where the mentee stands while identifying problems and finding solutions. It acts as a driver for experiential learning and development. However, a relationship of respect and trust must exist to avoid a stress-induced response from either party. In this article, we discuss the importance of feedback, how to implement it, and provide valuable tips for giving and receiving feedback from a mentorship.
Mentors often provide feedback to determine if their mentee is accomplishing set goals, while mentees can give feedback to ensure the mentorship style and skills best suit them. This notion expands the relationship as both parties participates in constructive criticism. Providing opportunities to give feedback from the mentee can be done by following these steps:
1. Establish a schedule
Let your mentor know you want to incorporate feedback into your partnership and determine how often this will occur. This schedule can be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – the more regular it is, the more beneficial the feedback process will be. By scheduling in advance, both individuals can prepare for the meeting/chat and generate logical and comprehensive talking points. On top of this, showing respect for each other's schedule and time can contribute to the required respectful relationship.
2. Have guidelines in place
You may develop guidelines for your feedback, including questions and goals that both parties want to include. Having guidelines in place can help bolster confidence and structure of the feedback-giving process and make it more likely for the mentee to become involved in the feedback process. Some guidelines you can follow for giving effective feedback include:
- Make it impersonal, relate it to job performance and behaviours and less about the person. To do so, avoid the use of 'you'; instead of saying 'you did not do this correctly', state, 'I may not have clarified how to do this, but…' this removes the blame and accusation aspect of feedback giving.
- Ensure it is specific. The general feedback doesn't guide the individual in the right direction and may lead them astray and confused. Here, you want to make particular references to observations of behaviours and performance
- The feedback must be understood. To do this, you want to use specific questioning and challenging questions to ensure the recipient fully understands what you are saying.
- The feedback should only focus on those areas that the recipient has control over. If issues arise from a whole team, the focus should be on how to overcome the problem as a team instead of what the individual did.
- The feedback must be addressed when necessary. Feedback should be timely and addressed as soon as possible or when needed.
- Finally, the feedback should be manageable by the recipient. Giving feedback that is difficult and far to reach won't benefit any party involved; ensuring that it is achievable at an individual level is extremely important if you want to see behaviour changes or results.
3. Have an outline
Similar to having guidelines, an outline provides structure to your feedback by providing observations and thoughts for the mentor. Organising information into a readily available and readable summary will also provide talking points for the meeting, boosting the cohesiveness of the feedback supplied.
4. Decide how long the meeting will be
Determining how long the meeting should be will help you stay mindful of your mentor's schedule and organise your topics to fit within the time frame. Coming prepared to your session will indicate that you care about your mentor's time and will likely boost your overall relationship of respect and trust.
5. Address concerns where they arise
Addressing current concerns will help you increase productivity during the feedback session. By effectively communicating your current concerns, they become more relevant, and the mentor will likely act quickly to address them. This will allow both of you to work together to address the concern, and your mentor will come to appreciate your proactivity and respect for their expertise.
6. Be appreciative
Beginning and ending the feedback session with positive feedback will set the tone for the session and the following. Acknowledging the mentoring efforts and the work they put in for you will show your appreciation for the time they put into you. It also indicates that you care about your career development and position within the company.
Optimising your mentor process should be done through honest and respectful feedback.. Being open, honest and diplomatic with one another creates a relationship of trust and respect. The more this happens, the more successful you will find in your mentor program. Good mentors build good relationships, and by following these steps, you create an environment that can foster the most desired mentor/mentee relationship.